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PL150 Expert Review 

 

 
 
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Published:  May 30, 2010
 
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Slide 1: ULR : http://www.expertreviews.co.uk/digital-cameras/278197/samsung-pl150 Samsung PL150 Review Posted by Tim Smalley Samsung introduced the dual LCD system with the ST550 and it proved to be a success, as Samsung has unveiled a couple of new dual-screen compacts. The PL150 is a cheaper version of the ST550 which eschews the rear 3.5in 1152k dot touch screen in favour of a cheaper 3in 230k LCD, which sits flush with the plastic casing. It's still bright and viewable on sunny days, but the lower resolution is obvious. The front-mounted screen is the same size as the ST550's at 1.5in and it's activated via a button on the top, but it too has been a victim of cost-cutting - the resolution is just 61k dots compared to the 185k in the ST550's second display. It's as dim as the ST550's front-mounted display and the lower resolution results in increased graininess, but it remains functionally the same. It's useful for self portraits, entertaining kids and offering a handy countdown in timer mode.
Slide 2: A result of the front-mounted screen is that, like the ST550, the PL150 uses the annoyingly small micro SD card format, which is typically used in mobile phones. It's understandable that space is at a premium given the additional electronics required for the second screen, but it wouldn't have hurt to make the camera another few millimetres thicker to accommodate a standard SD card slot. With that said, it's more likely that the Samsung PL150's target audience already owns a number of micro SD cards, so it'll save them the trouble of buying another memory card. As there's no touch screen, a familiar set of controls have returned on the PL150. The buttons are solid and feel positive when pressed. The mode dial also has a reassuring positivity about it too, making the camera feel very well built on the whole. The base has been designed with a seven degree angle along the back edge, so that the camera can either sit vertical or lean back when it's rested on a flat surface. Samsung says that this subtle touch was added for taking pictures without needing a tripod or a spare pair of hands when you want to take that family holiday group snap. The disturbing air-brushing applied to faces in the Smart Auto mode looks over-processed and there's no warning that the PL150 is applying this effect. Even more ridiculous is the Beauty mode, which makes friends look great on the camera's LCD but, as soon as you inspect images a little closer, friends looked like they'd had an accident down at the local plastic surgery clinic. Image quality was a sticking point for the ST550 and it's not as good on the PL150. It uses a similar 12-megapixel 1/2.33in sensor, but the Schneider lens has been replaced with a cheaper Samsung optic. This reduces the PL150's ability to resolve its 12 megapixel resolution and the particularly aggressive noise reduction doesn't help either. The new lens suffers from barrel distortion at the wide end of its 27-135mm effective focal range and pin cushion distortion is a problem at the telephoto end. Throughout the focal range, we found between about 2x and 3.5x zoom delivered the best results optically.
Slide 3: Image quality was a sticking point for the ST550 and it's not as good on the PL150. It uses a similar 12-megapixel 1/2.33in sensor, but the Schneider lens has been replaced with a cheaper Samsung optic. This reduces the PL150's ability to resolve its 12 megapixel resolution and the particularly aggressive noise reduction doesn't help either. The new lens suffers from barrel distortion at the wide end of its 27-135mm effective focal range and pin cushion distortion is a problem at the telephoto end. Throughout the focal range, we found between about 2x and 3.5x zoom delivered the best results optically. Noise is a problem at ISOs above 400, with ISO 1600 and 3200 being particularly poor. ISO 800 doesn't escape either though, as there's a horrible yellow cast to white areas, which is caused by chroma noise - it only gets worse as you increase the ISO. Of course, most users won't venture into Program mode to access ISO, but it's fair to say you'll want to use the flash in anything but a relatively well-lit room if you're looking to print the images. What's more, the performance or battery life woes haven't been addressed, so you'll find yourself reaching for the charger more often than you would with most compacts. Of course, a lot of this depends on how often you use the front-facing display, as that's the main culprit, but even without it it's by no means impressive. The issues probably won't be enough to turn Samsung's targeted audience away from the PL150 though. It's a decent enough compact camera and if the better ST550 is out of reach, the PL150 is a viable alternative. If you don't need the additional screen on the front, there are better alternatives out there.

   
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