Samsung L201

Petite camera with manual shooting mode.

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Samsung L201
  • Samsung L201
  • Samsung L201
  • Samsung L201

Pros

  • Petite design, manual shooting modes, speedy shot to shot time

Cons

  • Incredibly over-sharpened pictures, shutter speed a touch sluggish

Bottom Line

Samsung's L201 is fairly solid overall but is let down by its horribly over-sharpened pictures. For small prints it's fine, but at larger magnifications this really becomes an issue.

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While Samsung’s L201 camera looks like a pretty basic unit it does have a few tricks up its sleeve. This 10.2-megapixel camera sports a manual shooting mode in addition to a few of the bells and whistles we’ve come to expect. However its images are horribly over-sharpened which really hurts the overall performance.

We simply couldn’t get over how strongly sharpened the shots were. Edges were far too crisp, with noticeable sharpening artefacts. In our standardised Imatest testing the L201 received the highest over-sharpening score we’ve ever seen. Even turning in-camera sharpening to the lowest setting didn’t alleviate the issue much; it did lower the over-sharpening score but it was still far higher than it should be. As with many camera issues this will probably not affect novice users making standard 4x6in prints but it becomes extremely prominent at larger print sizes.

Colour balance was fairly typical for a mid-range compact, with a strongly saturated tone. This was most noticeable in reds, greens and yellows but the whole spectrum definitely tended towards vividness. In our indoor chart shots everything also looked a touch paler than it should even when using the custom white balance mode.

Noise was pretty standard too. Everything up to ISO 400 performs fine with only minor grain evident when zoomed in. However at ISO 800 there is a fairly sharp jump in speckling and as such we wouldn’t recommend increasing the sensitivity beyond 400.

While the images have a few issues, overall speed was pretty decent. The L201’s shot-to-shot time was particularly impressive at one second. Meanwhile the start-up time and burst modes were slightly more average at 2.1 seconds and two frames per second, and the shutter speed was somewhat sluggish at 0.1 seconds.

As mentioned earlier, the feature set is a little more robust than usual, with a full manual mode that allows you to adjust both shutter speed and aperture. For the less enthusiastic photographer, however, there are also both program and full auto modes. We were a little disappointed by the omission of optical image stabilisation (only digital is included) but on a camera with a 3x zoom lens this isn’t a huge problem. Other features include face detection, auto contrast balancing and some nice colour, sharpness, contrast and saturation modes.

The L201’s design is a little weird. From the front it looks like an ordinary boxy silver unit, but the edges are all gloss white, making for a strange combination. It is quite petite and should be perfect for pockets and small bags. We found the function wheel was pretty fiddly and difficult to adjust without changing our grip; however, all the other controls are intuitive and well placed.

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