Samsung ST600 two-screen camera
Samsung ST600 review: A compact digital camera with two screens, perfect for self portraits
- Good image quality, front LCD screen is useful, built-in filters are a nice touch
- Touchscreen isn't great, noticeable noise above ISO 400, chromatic aberration
The Samsung ST600 is a two-screen digital camera that's perfect for self-portraits. Its overall image quality is more than adequate for posting on social media sites and even for printing at relatively large sizes, but it does suffer from some imperfections. We're not fans of the camera's touchscreen and its usability could be better. Overall it's not a bad little compact camera at all.
Price$ 399.00 (AUD)
The compact Samsung ST600 digital camera is best suited to party-goers and travellers who want to take a lot of self-portraits. It's one of Samsung's two-screen cameras, which means it has a main 3.5in screen on the back and a 1.8in display on the front. The second screen seems like a bit of a gimmick at first, but it does actually help when you want to frame yourself in a nice photo without having to hand over the camera to someone else.
See how the Samsung ST600 two-screen camera compares to the older Samsung PL150 two-screen camera.
A 14.2-megapixel sensor sits behind the ST600's 27-135mm, 5x optical zoom lens and it can capture reasonably clear and vibrant images. For everyday shots, party shots and even travel shots, the picture quality will be more than acceptable. Pictures will look good when displayed on a high-definition TV and you could even print out some nice A4- or A3-sized photos without noticing many blemishes in the image quality. However, there is some noise present when the camera automatically chooses a high ISO speed and this can add noticeable speckling and discolouration to images; this will become even more noticeable if you view those images at a large size. We'd stick to no more than ISO 400. Chromatic aberration is also present in high-contrast areas, but it's not too noticeable if you view images at a small size.
We're not sold on the ease of use of the ST600. Samsung has shunned physical controls in favour of a touchscreen, but the learning curve is steeper than it would be if the camera had physical menu buttons. You really have to hunt through all the features to find out where things are and how to access them. The implementation of the second screen is also a little confusing. You can activate the second screen by tapping on it, but this means you can't find any of the second-screen-specific features, such as 'children mode', which displays a picture of clowns on the screen in a bid to get them to smile. To see these features, you have to press the 'F.LCD' button on the top of the camera and then quickly catch the on-screen menu that appears, which allows you to change the shooting mode. When that menu disappears, you have to switch off the front LCD screen and switch it back on to bring it up again — it's quite frustrating.
Usability issues aside, the front LCD screen did its intended job well. We were able to frame self-portraits nicely and the smile shutter also allowed the camera to take pictures automatically, albeit with unflattering results most of the time. We think it's best if you switch off the smile shutter and just take the picture yourself: The smile shutter was a little too eager to take the shot whenever it sensed even slight mouth movement. It should be noted than in bright conditions, the second screen can be hard to see.
The camera has a decent selection of scene modes that you can choose from to help you capture your intended scene as best as possible. It even includes 'beauty mode', but that didn't work on our ugly mugs — this one needs more work, Samsung. Once you've taken photos, you can try adding filters to them to make them look more creative. There are six built-in filters, which include miniature, fish-eye, vignetting and sketch. If you tire of still shots, you can try out the ST600's video mode, which can capture video at a resolution up to 1280x720 pixels; the quality is quite good. The front LCD screen also works in video mode.
We like the overall quality and functionality of the Samsung ST600 and think the two-screen design has some merit. However, we wish it didn't have a touchscreen and that it used conventional buttons instead. We think that would make it much easier to use. Another sticking point is that the ST600 requires a microSD card instead of a regular SD card, which means you'll have to carry easily losable adapters with you if you want to quickly transfer pics to a laptop while you're travelling. Furthermore the camera doesn't ship with a separate battery charger. Instead, it comes with a camera charger, which means you have to plug the charger into the camera to charge the battery and you can't continue to use the camera while charging a second battery, for example.
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