Samsung ES55 digital camera

A 10.2-megapixel compact Samsung camera with an ultra-low price tag

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Samsung ES55
  • Samsung ES55
  • Samsung ES55
  • Samsung ES55

Pros

  • Ultra-compact dimensions, fun automatic tools, good performance for the asking price

Cons

  • Cluttered menu layout, camera buttons are scarce, specs are almost identical to the Samsung ES15

Bottom Line

The Samsung E55 is a decent little digital camera with some user-friendly features on board. For the asking price, it's pretty hard to fault.

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The Samsung ES55 is a highly affordable compact camera equipped with a 10.2-megapixel CCD sensor and a 3x optical zoom lens. With an RRP of $189, it’s one of the cheaper compacts on the market, though you wouldn’t know by looking at it. In addition to being attractively sized, its feature set extends beyond the obligatory bare-bones offerings. If you’re willing to live with some minor imaging issues, the Samsung ES55 will not disappoint. It’s small, user-friendly and comes with some interesting tools and features — what else does the average entry-level user need?

Like other budget cameras worth their salt, the Samsung ES55 makes up for its lack of style by being ultra-tiny. Despite the camera suffering from a drab design, its 90x59x21mm dimensions are impossible not to like. The ES55 comes in a choice of three colours: silver, red and grey. We tested the grey version, which is actually a subtle shade of purple — go figure. While it lacks the glossy fetishisation [the what now? — Ed.] of premium compact cameras, it remains a supremely portable unit that will fit practically anywhere. For the asking price, you really can’t complain.

Being an entry-level camera, we weren’t expecting big things from the Samsung ES55’s imaging performance. While we wouldn’t say it “pleasantly surprised” us, the unit did acquit itself pretty well — better than expected, in fact. We were particularly impressed by the sharpness of our test shots. Even when we zoomed in to a minor portion of an image, the details remained fine and relatively free of grain. (This is just as well, as the underpowered 3x optical zoom means you’ll be doing plenty of cropping.) Colours were accurate and vibrant. As with any low-grade sensor, results were best in sunny environments, with noise taking precedence at ISO 400 and above.

For navigation, the Samsung ES55 sticks to the tried-and-true directional pad, which we found perfectly responsive during testing. The menu is attractively presented and easy to understand, with straightforward text in place of inscrutable icons. That said, the layout leaves a bit to be desired — the movie mode, electronic image stabiliser and scene modes are inexplicably lumped together, for example. Speaking of the movie mode, there is no dedicated dial or button on the camera, which means you have to dive into the menu whenever you want to record some video. Tsk.

Samsung is touting a new mode on the ES55 dubbed Beauty Shot. As its name implies, it uses inbuilt software to adjust skin tones and remove blemishes from your subjects’ faces. Like the makeover tools found in certain editing programs, it’s like having a personal airbrush assistant on hand to touch up ‘unsightly’ faults. Personally, we’re not sure we agree with this plastification of reality — why not just Photoshop yourself out altogether and add Brad Pitt or Jessica Alba? Eh? Eh? In any event, the mode produces mixed results, with manipulated areas often appearing digitally smeared. Still, if you absolutely must eradicate that big, glistening pimple we suppose it gets the job done.

Despite its budget status, the Samsung ES55 comes with an impressive array of modes and features. Along with the afore-mentioned Beauty Shot, there’s face detection, a voice recorder, red-eye removal, nine style modes, 12 scene modes, an inbuilt help guide and a 640x520 VGA movie mode, to name but a few. You can also manually adjust the RGB spectrum to your heart’s content, which is great if you want to take some avant-garde photos. (Like giving everything a green tinge on Halloween — oooooh!)

The Samsung ES55 took a little under two seconds to start up, which is comparable to other entry-level cameras. If we had one reservation about the camera it would be the fact that it is nigh-on identical to the Samsung ES15 — which happens to be around $40 cheaper. In fact, the only difference seems to be size (the ES55 is slightly smaller). We’re not sure that the improved portability is worth the extra premium, frankly. Nevertheless, the Samsung ES55 remains an impressively reliable camera in its own right that does all the basics with considerable pizzazz.

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