Samsung ST50 digital camera

This super-slim, 12.1-megapixel Samsung camera is stylish but takes mediocre photos

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Samsung ST50
  • Samsung ST50
  • Samsung ST50
  • Samsung ST50

Pros

  • Attractive, well-built, crisp LCD, easy to operate

Cons

  • Mediocre picture quality, smart picture mode sometimes chooses questionable settings

Bottom Line

The Samsung ST50 is a very good looking digital camera and the pictures it takes are clean, but photos are sometimes soft when taken at higher zoom levels, and snaps are under-saturated.

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The Samsung ST50 is an ultra-slim digital camera with a smart picture mode. Unfortunately, the 12.1-megapixel sensor and 3x zoom lens are mediocre, with the end result being picture quality that is surpassed by other manufacturers’ slim cameras.

The Samsung ST50 digital camera is small at only 16.6mm thick for the majority of the body, but it packs a lot into that small chassis. Weighing 121 grams without a battery or SD card installed, it is heavier than we expected. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the ST50 seems well-built and sturdy.

A glossy brushed-metal finish with darker accents shows off the camera’s curves well, while the rear is dominated by the 2.7in LCD screen. Shutter, power and the smart mode buttons are joined on the camera’s top by a zoom rocker, while the other buttons are on the rear.

The Samsung ST50’s LCD screen is where all the composition takes place, with no optical viewfinder built-in. The screen is crisp and colour is well saturated. Although we’re not a fan of the interface and its font, it is easy to read. Brightness is more than high enough for the screen to be readable in direct sunlight, with three settings available as well as an automatic dimmer.

Picture quality from the Samsung ST50 is average. The 12.1-megapixel shots display a good amount of detail at the widest zoom levels, but we found colours to be slightly undersaturated and lacking the vibrancy of photos taken by the Canon IXUS 110 IS. When using the 35-105mm (35mm equivalent) 3x zoom lens at higher zoom levels we noticed some loss of definition on edges and deteriorating sharpness. We would have preferred a wide-angle lens (around the 28mm mark) — thin, cameras like the Samsung ST50 are probably going to be used for a lot of party shots quite often.

The smart picture mode takes control of the camera — apart from the zoom and shutter — out of your hands. It determines whether the scene is a portrait, a landscape shot or some other situation in order to attain the best picture quality. We had mixed results, with one photograph of a computer component from 2m away being incorrectly recognised as a landscape. The smart mode is able to switch between macro and normal focus modes automatically, making most shooting trouble-free.

The Samsung ST50’s movie mode isn’t high definition but it has a higher resolution than the 640x480 provided by most low-end cameras like the Samsung ES15. The 800x592 high quality mode uses MPEG-4 for efficient compression. Although it's not exactly cinema quality, the Samsung ST50 is good enough for the odd home movie.

The Samsung ST50 digital camera is very stylish and very well built. We just wish the pictures didn’t require a little Photoshop tweaking in order to shine.

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