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Samsung ST500 review
|DATE REVIEWED: 18th Nov 2009||Add Camera To Comparison Chart|
|Camera Type||Compact||Shutter Speeds||8 - 1/2000 sec|
|RRP||£249||ISO Range||80 - 3200|
|Megapixels||12||Focal Length||27 - 124mm|
|Weight||169g||Aperture||f3.5 - 5.9|
|Dimensions||100 x 60 x 19mm (WxHxD)||Focus Distance||80cm - inf|
|LCD Size||3 inches||Zoom (Opt)||5x|
|Zoom (Dig)||4x||Storage||MicroSD / MicroSDHC|
|Max Resolution||4000 x 3000||Battery Type||Li-Ion|
You have to hand it to Samsung, ever since the company arrived in the compact market a few years ago, innovation has been a keyword. Not image quality, but style, looks, features and wacky ideas.
The Samsung ST500 is packed with clever ideas and ideas that, well, let’s just say show a vivid imagination. The first thing is the look of the camera. It’s slender, but solid, the front is a glossy black plate with a blue trim, the back is dull matt black and is dominated by the 3” widescreen LCD.
There’s technically only one button on the back of the camera and that’s to switch to playback mode. On the top is the on/off button – with a natty blue glow – the fire button and one of the smallest zoom rocker switches ever made. And that’s it.
Everything else is controlled on the big screen because it’s touch-sensitive. Samsung has released a touch-screen so the next question is how to beat that? Introduce vibrating feedback for every selection of course. Now you know when you’ve tapped something. That, though, isn’t the party piece.
On the front of the ST500, initially hidden from sight behind the gloss black finish – which does look lovely – and next to the Schneider-Kreuznach lens, is another colour LCD. It can do three things. The first is provide visual confirmation of certain features being used or activated. Okay, so that is pointless.
The second use is to show a live view of what the lens sees. The use for this is obvious and is flagged up in the current TV campaign. No more struggling to get you and your friends in the shot while holding the camera at arms length, now you can see whether any heads are being cut off. It’s the ultimate camera system for the Facebook generation.
The third use is quite clearly the work of the deranged. Put the camera into the Small child Scene mode and you get an animation of laughing clowns. Now this might work, or it might terrify small children.
The Samsung ST500 does have other worthy features beyond the expected face recognition and tracking. For a start there’s the useful 27mm equivalent wide angle lens. It fairly races out of the housing and is ready to shoot in about two seconds. It has a 4.6x optical zoom reach which, while not being extravagant, does a job.
There’s a hefty 12Mp resolution, that’s more than anyone will ever need in a compact and in case you find your memory card is full, there’s the backup option of having 55Mb of internal memory. Good for a dozen shots at Fine quality. Mind you, finding the memory card could be an issue because the ST500 uses the micro-SD format. Okay, SD was small enough, micro-SD is mouse-food size and is just too small. Camera manufacturers, please stop now.
If there are any flaws in the technical armament then one is the flash, which is rated at 3.4m using AutoISO. Now, as the ISO effectively extends the range, you can surmise that at low ISO ratings it doesn’t really extend much beyond six feet. Enough to light the person in front of you, but not much else.
The other slight criticism is the macro. The regular zoom macro is rated at 5cm, and the SuperMacro at 3cm but those numbers seem slightly generous. Either way, it isn’t the right up to the lens type of macro that we’re perhaps becoming spoiled by.
The final criticism is the menu system on the back. It’s clear enough, but in a rush to make things happen quicker, any selections disappear before you can read what it is they do and to change your mind or select something else then involves repeating the tapping sequence. Until you’ve memorised what everything does, this makes it take longer.
Aside from that there are few complaints. The metering is predicated on exposing for the ground or people and damn the sky. There is of course noise at low ISOs thanks to stuffing 12Mp into an unfeasibly small space, but it’s not bad and colour rendition throughout is bright and cheerful.
Having an ISO3200 setting is welcome and here the noise suppression algorithms go into overdrive. The result is something that looks quite painterly as the detail disappears, but it isn’t unpleasant and is worth having. It’s only in the shadows that the processing tends to leave noise alone.
There are no proper exposure modes, just scene modes and the Program mode where you can play with most of the other parameters, but let’s face it, there doesn’t need to be on a camera like this. The image quality is good enough, it looks a treat, is packed with interesting features and is the perfect compact package.
The Samsung ST500's touch-screen control works well on the large LCD, reducing the need for a plethora of buttons. The innovative features all work and it’s pretty good value for money as well
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|The Samsung ST500's touch-screen control works well on the large LCD, reducing the need for a plethora of buttons. The innovative features all work and it’s pretty good value for money as well|
Duncan has a long history in photography as a portrait/wedding photographer, a published author of no fewer than 13 photography books and member of Royal Photographic Society.
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|Average Camera Rating||3.4|
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