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Samsung ST70 review

Tim Smalley
20 May 2010
Samsung ST70
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
140
inc VAT

The disappointing image quality in both still and motion pictures makes the Samsung ST70 a camera with more style than substance.

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Specifications

1/2.33in 14.2-megapixel sensor, 5.0x zoom (27-135mm equivalent), 126g

Samsung has made it clear that it wants to make massive inroads into the camera market this year and take over the number one spot from Canon. As such, it has released a large number of compact cameras designed to suit a variety of users, with the ST70 sitting atop the fashion pile.

The slim, stainless steel body measures just 16mm thick when the lens is closed and has an angled base that means it sits seven degrees from the vertical, making it ideal for using any flat surface as a makeshift tripod. On the back, there's an excellent 2.7in screen that's viewable in bright sunlight and has good viewing angles, but isn't as vibrant as some others we've seen recently.

The controls have been laid out well on the rear and there are a couple of extra buttons on the top near the shutter release, which itself has been designed to be more comfortable thanks to its slight forward tilt. There's no mode dial, which makes switching between modes a little cumbersome. It's obviously designed for those who view their camera as a fashion accessory, but it's quite a bit more than that, as there are some fairly lofty specs on paper.

Chief among these is the 14.2 megapixel 1/2.33in CCD sensor and an effective 27-135mm f/3.5-5.9 lens. The lens is OK and doesn't suffer from too much distortion at both the wide and telephoto ends of its zoom range. Sadly, it's quite soft at its maximum zoom, even in the centre of the frame, which makes it seem like images are out of focus.

The sensor supports ISOs ranging from 80 to 3200, but our studio tests revealed that noise reduction is very aggressive even at the lowest sensitivities. Tonal gradations aren't particularly smooth and quite a lot of fine detail is lost, but overall it's not too bad at ISO 400 and below. Banding and chroma noise start to appear in tonal gradations at above ISO 800 and resolution makes a quick transition from mediocre to very poor.

Skin tones aren't too bad, although they do look a little soft and sufficiently Botoxed in the Smart Auto mode, which is what the camera will most likely be used in. It's as if there's some additional processing going on, which would explain the short delay after the shutter is released. We recommend switching the camera to program mode, as that removes a lot of the processing and faces look much more natural as a result.

In outdoor scenarios, the ST70 makes a concerted effort to take reasonably well-exposed pictures, but more often than not it suffers from very poor dynamic range. Clouds are quite often turned to white blobs in the sky while grass looks quite dull because it's underexposed to compensate for the sky. This is more than likely caused by the decision to pack 14 million pixels into such a small sensor.

Video quality is also unimpressive, with poor detail in even well-lit environments. Aggressive noise reduction is clearly playing its part again.

Our final annoyance is the move to the micro SD card format, which is obviously a consequence of its tiny dimensions, but we would've rather seen a slightly larger camera and an SDHC slot. Micro SD cards are tiny and they're very easy to lose, which is not something you want if you're taking important photos.

We're also not entirely convinced with the ST70's ability to take photos you'd be happy-enough with. With Fujifilm's FinePix F70EXR, our current favourite compact camera, costing just £10 more than Samsung's ST70, we'd recommend spending just a bit more to get a much better camera.

Basic Specifications

Rating**
CCD effective megapixels14.2 megapixels
CCD size1/2.33in
Viewfindernone
Viewfinder magnification, coverageN/A
LCD screen size2.7in
LCD screen resolution76,800 pixels
Articulated screenNo
Live viewYes
Optical zoom5.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent27-135mm
Image stabilisationoptical, sensor shift
Maximum image resolution4,320x3,240
Maximum movie resolution1280x720
Movie frame rate at max quality30fps
File formatsJPEG, MP4, WAV (audio)

Physical

Memory slotSDHC
Mermory supplied27MB internal
Battery type3.7V 850mAh
Battery Life (tested)240 shots
ConnectivityUSB
Body materialstainless steel
Lens mountN/A
Focal length multiplier5.5x
Kit lens model nameN/A
AccessoriesUSB cable, Charger
Weight126g
Size56x97x16mm

Buying Information

Warranty1 year RTB
Price£140
Supplierhttp://www.tesco.com
Detailswww.samsung.co.uk

Camera Controls

Exposure modesauto, smart auto, program, scene
Shutter speed8 to 1/2,000 seconds
Aperture rangef/3.2 to f/5.9
ISO range (at full resolution)80 to 3200
Exposure compensation+/-2 EV
White balanceauto, 5 presets, manual
Additional image controlscontrast, saturation, sharpness
Manual focusNo
Closest macro focus20cm
Auto-focus modesmulti, centre, face detection, tracking
Metering modesmulti, spot, centre weighted, face detection AE
Flashauto, auto & red eye reduction, fill-in flash, slow sync, red eye fix, flash off
Drive modessingle, continuous, AEB, motion capture, self-timer