Samsung ST550 review
Review Date : Fri, 9 Oct 2009
Author : Mike Lowe
Samsung ST550 – a camera with two LCD screens? The What Digital Camera Samsung ST550 review checks out the ultimate self-portrait compact…
|Pros:||Dual screen, touch screen rear LCD, 720p HD video|
|Cons:||Poor battery life, high ISO softens image|
The Samsung ST550 - or Samsung TL225 as it's known in the USA - has two LCD screens. The primary touchscreen on the back, with a smaller screen on the front too. May sound a little absurd, but it's actually fairly criminal it's not happened before. How often do you see holiday goers trying to take self portraits (unsuccessfully) at an arm's length? The ST550 sets out to eliminate this problem, but it doesn't shun the rest of its performance - with a 3.5in touchscreen on the back the Samsung ST550 looks to be a real crowd pleaser. The What Digital Camera Samsung ST550 review gets snapping...
Samsung ST550 review - Features
As well as dual LCD screens, the ST550 dons a 12.2 Megapixel sensor for ample-sized images and has a 27-124mm (4.6x optical zoom) lens to cover a varied range that's also optically stabilised to avoid camera shake. The main 3.5in rear LCD screen is touch sensitive, meaning there's no need for any physical buttons on the rear. The front screen is more or less invisible until activated with a stern tapping, when it becomes bright and easy to view front-on.
High ISO setting ranges from ISO 80-3200 for low-light performance when needed, or the in-built flash can provide an extra punch of light. The 27mm lens is fairly wide angle, and with 4.6x optical zoom stretches as far as a 124mm equivalent.
A number of options including Smart Auto to auto-detect the best conditions, face detection, smile and blink detection as well as Smart Touch AF which tracks a subject in frame by clicking the very subject with your finger. It's all rather clever stuff.
Samsung ST550 review - Design
Dressed in black, with a fiery orange lip running across the top and to the right hand side, the ST550 is quite the little stunner. It's subtle, looks techy in a trendy way and doesn't feel particularly targeted to one sex or other - in that respect it's successfully androgynous and will be suited to a wide audience.
In use it can be a little tricky to get used to the ST550's rear touch screen. With so many compacts having the standardised d-pad on the back - which lacks here - it's a bit of an uphaul to try and locate all the settings. However, once you do everything's a doddle with a little bit of practice. The screen does take abuse from naturally greasy fingers of course, and you will find yourself rubbing it clean a fair amount. But, and quite the big but, the screen itself is gloriously massive, the 3.5in widescreen ratio covering about 95% of the camera's rear without the need for additional buttons taking up the space. The front screen, on the other hand, is smaller but of ample size. It appears to be invisible when not on, the only significant issue with it being the ‘tap to turn on' function that's more of a lucky strike than tap. Turning on can be temperamental and, really, Samsung should have opted for a simple, gentle ‘double click' gesture or, more simply, a physical button on the camera itself to activate.
The zoom button atop the ST550 is rather small however, and needs to be pulled directly to the left or right, compared to many compacts which have a larger, more rotational zoom switch that's easier to use. Perhaps, due to the slimness of the camera's body it would have been difficult to implement such a system, and whilst not a huge issue by any means, just feels a little like your hand sits unusually to the camera's body when zooming.
It’s fairly uncommon that a compact comes along that shows true innovation – but the Samsung ST550 is certainly just that. Thanks to its dual LCD screens it’s an inspirational camera, so hats off to the Samsung. Sure there’re a few small issues to iron out – the higher ISO image quality could do with performing better, the front screen should be easier to turn on, and the screen black out upon taking a shot can feel to disengage from the action. But brush those minor points aside and the abundance portrait and facial recognition technologies, image stabilisation, 3.5in wide touchscreen rear LCD, super macro mode and clever subject tracking auto focus make this a real ‘people camera’. It looks the part, by and large plays the part too and can only get a big thumbs up.