Samsung E15 digital camera

Samsung's ES15 is a 10.2-megapixel compact camera that's big on features, but small on style

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Samsung E15
  • Samsung E15
  • Samsung E15
  • Samsung E15
  • Expert Rating

    3.75 / 5

Pros

  • Good price-to-performance ratio, comes with some consumer-friendly tools and features

Cons

  • Dirt-cheap price tag is reflected in the look and feel

Bottom Line

The Samsung E15 offers an identical imaging performance to its E55 sibling. It doesn't look as cool (and the E55 wasn't that cool to begin with) but the lower price tag makes it well worth a look.

Would you buy this?

The Samsung ES15 is a cheap and compact digital camera that offers decent imaging performance and some interesting inbuilt features. With an RRP of $149, it’s one of the most affordable options on the market (indeed, it’s a dollar less expensive than Fisher-Price’s Kid-Tough Digital Camera, which is basically just a toy for children).

With a maximum resolution of 10.2 megapixels and a 3x optical zoom lens, the Samsung ES15 has identical specifications to its slightly slicker brother, the Samsung ES55. In fact, the only thing that separates these cameras is a different design and battery type: the Samsung ES15 is bulkier and uses disposable AA batteries, while the ES55 is comparatively tiny and comes with a rechargeable Li-Ion battery. Otherwise, both models sport the same feature set and offer an indistinguishable performance. Considering it costs $40 less than its identikit sibling, the ES15 is definitely the better buy. Well, unless you care about looks that is...

Aesthetics are not one of this camera’s strong points, which is putting it mildly. If you thought the Samsung ES55 looked a bit dull, the ES15 is going to give you beige-tinged nightmares. In place of its brother’s aluminium casing you get a plastic black finish that looks about as exciting as it sounds (i.e. not very). With dimensions of 94.1x62.7x25.2mm, the unit is significantly larger than the ES55, but it should still fit comfortably inside your pocket. Whether you’ll want to pull it out again will depend on how fashion-conscious you are.

In addition to looking a bit drab, the Samsung ES15’s plastic body has a cheap, hollow feel and doesn't seem like it will stand up to much punishment. (The flimsy battery latch seemed in danger of snapping off at any moment.) To be fair though, you can’t really expect sexy, sturdy styling from a sub-$150 camera. For the asking price, it’s as good — if not better — than can be expected.

The same thing could also be said about the Samsung ES15’s imaging performance. While unlikely to knock anyone’s socks off, it slightly exceeded our expectations. Images remained surprisingly sharp in our test shots, with plenty of detail in complex areas. While image quality could definitely be better, it takes a very decent photo in optimum lighting, provided you keep the ISO setting at 400 or under. There’s no getting past the fact that this camera is designed for casual happy-snappers — but in that regard it acquits itself well.

The ES15’s control interface and menu layout are identical to the Samsung ES55, including the 2.7in LCD screen. It sticks to a traditional 4-way control pad, which remained responsive throughout testing. The menu is well presented with clearly labelled headings, although the layout does take some getting used to. Certain modes require you to an inordinate amount of hunting, which is not only frustrating but also unnecessary (it’s not like the camera is chock-full of manual controls). That said, we were impressed by the inclusion of a Custom RGB mode in the menu, which is something few entry-level cameras provide.

The Samsung ES15 comes with all the same modes and features as its ES55 cousin. These include face detection, auto red-eye removal, a voice recorder, 12 scene modes, a slideshow function (complete with music and transitional effects), an inbuilt help guide, a VGA movie mode and a new automatic tool called Beauty Shot.

If you’re a particularly narcissistic individual, Beauty Shot will remove any unsightly blemishes or skin discolorations from your photos, thus giving you an airbrushed Hollywood sheen. In practice, this involves brightening the image and smearing flesh-coloured pixels over minor imperfections. Results tended to be mixed, but for a fledging technology it does a pretty good job. In fact, that's as good a way as any to sum up the product — a pretty good job.

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

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