The Samsung ST1000 combines the simple point-and-shoot with advanced tech such as GPS, Bluetooth, WiFi and even DLNA compatibility. The What Digital Camera ST1000 review takes a look to see if it’s the ultimate compact…
Samsung ST1000 review – Features
The Samsung ST1000 is more than your usual camera. Marrying point-and-shoot simplicity with a variety of techy-specced gadgetry, expect GPS (global positioning) for geo-tagging photos, Wi-Fi for emailing shots direct from camera (network availability or hotspot required) and Bluetooth connectivity. It’s even DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) compatible, which allows for transmission and sharing of images around a home network – potentially making the ST1000 seem all the more future-proof. But amongst all the tech-spec, is the ST1000 the ultimate compact?
The ST1000 is a small, slim 12.2MP compact. Its 5x optical zoom lens is housed inside the body and has a 35-175mm range. Smart Auto mode takes control of proceedings to take the hassle out of shooting, or a P mode allows for the ISO sensitivity to be set from ISO80-3200. 720p high def movies can also be captured at either 30 or 15 frames per second.
Samsung ST1000 review – Design
As a stylish compact the ST1000 is really on the money. Available in silver & red, black & gold, blue & silver, red & black and all black, there’s a finish to suit everyone.
The rear touchscreen is of significant size, taking up most of the camera’s rear. This makes sense as, apart from the shutter, there’s only a solitary playback button on a dipped edge towards the top right side; no further buttons to clog up use. While this may look good, it’s not entirely to the testament of use – the touchscreen will take a short while to fully grasp, not that it’s complex, just the locations of each menu adjustment. Once the incessant default beeping has been turned off (it activates upon every press of every menu) and you’ve learnt which functions are tucked away where though, it’s easy going. Not one for use with gloves in the cold weather though, as this will cease the connection from finger to screen. Despite the lack of buttons, one or two directional buttons or quick-access menu buttons wouldn’t have gone amiss.
Zooming in and out is controlled by a rather tiny toggle switch on the camera’s top right. Unlike more sizeable efforts from the majority of other compacts, this small, horizontally-aligned method is a touch fiddly and not as responsive as it should be at all times, plus it’s directly next to the shutter.
While everything is generally very good, some of the smaller issues can amount to an annoyance. Firstly the camera uses micro SD and there’s no USB or SD converter in the box. Secondly the ST1000 doesn’t have a standardised USB output, instead a brand-specific lead that’s incredibly short and will actually prevent the camera from resting on a surface when hanging from a computer’s USB port. The same cable is used for charging the batter when inside the camera, but again the short length of the cable is a frustration.
Performance & Image Quality
Samsung ST1000 review – Performance
A camera should primarily be for taking pictures and, with that in mind, depending on your stance, the ST1000 is choc-full of clever gadgets that don’t actually assist in taking the pictures, moreso in the sharing of them after. To explain: the 35mm lens isn’t nearly as wide as a lot of other lenses on the market, and is more the standard found in compacts some years older. Also the zoom in and out switch, which is awkwardly small, is very slow and not always responsive.
Of course there are a wide variety of other advanced features for the tech-savvy out there. The inclusion of Bluetooth means the ability to pair with nearby devices to share your images, and it’s easy to use. DLNA – Digital Living Network Alliance – is a standardised format of sharing files across a home network. Currently not everyone will have such technology implemented in the home, but if you do then it means the click of a few buttons can quickly and easily display images on other devices such as your HDTV or computer. Certainly very cool if you have all the other necessary tech around your house. As more of us have become familiar with Wi-Fi, the ST1000 makes interesting use of it – the ability to quick email a photo from your phone (almost) wherever you are is great… except, actually, Wi-Fi hotspots in the UK aren’t widely accessible and, more irritatingly so, the limitations to the advanced settings in the camera’s menu system may cause you to hit a brick wall of an issue and be unable to connect. In this test I had no way of entering username and password to the local network to connect, meaning, in my case, only the non-password-protected home network was accessible.
On the upside, the touchscreen is responsive and suitably huge so that playback is big, bold and bright. Despite the lack of a wide lens, macro mode focuses very close to the lens and opens up another possibility to shooting.
It’s more tweaks that need to be made to iron out smaller issues than any major changes needing to be made; a generally good performer.
Samsung ST1000 review – Image Quality
With so many technically brilliant specs squeezed into one camera body, the ST1000’s picture quality, perhaps surprisingly, is one of its letdowns. Whether this is at the expense of the other quality items on the ST1000’s specification is questionable. Part of the issue is the lens – occupying such a small area interior to the camera’s body likely limits its potential to reproduce at optimum quality. Images aren’t desperately sharp and corners are particularly soft, plus there is some light fall-off to the edges also. Given this is only a 35mm lens, not a wider-angle as found in many other standard compacts of today, this would suggest the image coverage of the sensor is very slight, even at this basic focal range.
Images are certainly fine in appearance, if not a little flat, and the auto white balance is an accurate neutral grey. The only faltering on this front is some inconsistency between various ISO sensitivities.
In terms of image-noise, the highest ISO 3200 setting does produce images at full size, albeit much softer than its lower-ISO counterparts due to noise-reduction processing (which can’t be adjusted for). This softness is a little more prominent than expected throughout the range, bar ISO80-200 where images are better, if not excessively processed and sharpened in-camera. When you pay out almost £300 for a camera, there’s an expectation for good image quality, and while the ST1000 is certainly acceptable, those hyper-image-conscious people may feel let down that it ticks all the very current techy boxes, but falters a little on its primary purpose – taking quality photographs.
Not to seem too scathing though as, overall, for your day to day images the ST1000 is a fine option that perhaps doesn’t resolve image capture with as much clarity as some may expect.
The Samsung ST1000 is one for the stylish, tech-heads out there. Its array of connectivity features shows attention to the future of digital media and, while this won’t be for everyone at the moment, you can’t help but take your hat off to it.
However, when it comes to taking pictures, the lack of a wideangle lens and the small zoom toggle can prove a bit of a letdown. Image quality is fine, but not as strong as some competitor models out there – and this seems to be at the expense of style, given a better lens would likely need to extend from the body, use up more space, and thus impact on the slender design. And, to be picky, minor frustrations such as the brand-specific connector being so short that it makes for highly impractical use at times.
Brush aside these small issues though and you’re left with a high-class compact full of techno-wizardry that looks the part and performs well. Recommended.