With a 5x optical zoom, HD movie recording a 3in touchscreen, how does this upper entry-level compact fare against its peers? The Samsung ST95 review finds out...
Samsung ST95 Review – Features
Available in five colours, the Samsung ST95 is based around the combination of a 16.1MP CCD sensor and a 5x optical zoom lens, which provides a respectable focal range of 26-130mm. Samsung’s Smart Auto 2.0 technology is on hand to automatically tweak shooting parameters in both stills and movie modes, while a reasonable sensitivity range of ISO 80-3200 also features to handle a range of lighting conditions.
Although the Samsung ST95 clearly has the younger and more novice consumer in mind, it’s refreshing to see that Samsung hasn’t skimped on the camera’s core feature set. The full quartet of multi, centre-weighted, spot and face detection metering options are joined by seven separate focusing functions, including Focus Tracking AF and a one-touch shooting option. This latter feature takes advantage of the 3in LCD touchscreen which dominates the camera’s rear, and allows subjects to be brought to focus and captured by pressing the relevant area on the screen.
Completing the camera’s spec sheet is a 720p HD movie mode, as well as Smart Face Recognition for up to 20 faces per frame. There’s also a range of processing effects which can be used to treat images before and after capture, although the omissions Samsung has made may deter potential buyers: In contrast to similar models from Panasonic, Canon and others there’s no mechanical image stabilisation system, for example, and there’s no sign of an HDMI socket either. Worse still, the model records all images and videos to the small and fiddly microSD/SDHC format of memory card, rather than the more standard SD cards which are instantly compatible with laptops, televisions and printing kiosks.
Samsung ST95 Review – Design
The ST95 is small and light, while its plastic and metal body is built to a standard which befits its price tag. When a camera such as the Samsung ST95 is controlled almost entirely by its touchscreen, though, operating it comfortably depends on a number of factors, such as the dimensions and responsiveness of the screen, the size of its buttons, and the way the camera handles when its display is poked and swiped – and it’s here that the ST95 falls down.
The screen may measure three inches along its diagonal, but being sized to the 16:9 aspect ratio means that (non-widescreen aspect ratio) full-resolution images only fit the centre of the frame. The screen itself is fairly responsive for a resistive display (the other type, known as capacitive, performs better but is reserved for higher-end models), although trying to swipe a thumb across the small areas over which the main menus appear often obscures the content of the menus themselves. It’s also difficult to make anything out in harsh conditions, and the viewing angle is narrow whenever the camera is tilted up or down.