Introduction, Features And Specs

Samsung PL210 is an ultra-compact digital camera which packs in a 10x zoom lens and a host of other interesting features. However, bear in mind despite the fact that this camera is slim it is not exactly going to turn any heads with its plain-Jane looks. The PL210 relies heavily on the feature set to keep abreast of the stiff competition in the compact digital camera segment by dedicated camera manufacturers like Canon and Nikon. Some of the main rivals are the Canon PowerShot SX120 IS, Canon IXUS 220HS and Nikon Coolpix S9100.

Feature and Specs

The Samsung PL210 boasts of a 14.2MP lens with 10x optical zoom which is great for a camera at this price point. The dual Image Stabilization (IS) feature promises to destroy even a little bit of shake and blurring your pictures. The PL210 has a 27mm (w) – 270mm (t) (35mm equivalent) lens which is a great.

You have seven ISO settings to choose from starting from ISO 80 right up to IS0 3200. The 3.0 inch LCD has the regular 230K resolution with four adjustable brightness modes.

Apart from the Smart auto mode in which all the scene setting choices are made by the camera itself, the PL210 has three other basic modes i.e. Program, Dual IS and Scene. The scene mode lets you choose some other sub-modes like White, Macro Colour, Portrait, Night Portrait, Backlight Portrait, Backlight, Landscape, Action, Tripod, Night, Macro, Macro Text (with Smart Guide), BlueSky, Sunset, NaturalGreen, Fireworks, Magic Frame, Beauty Shot, Portrait Highlight, Night, Landscape, Text, Sunset, Dawn, Backlight, Beach & Snow Drive. You can also access the different drive modes which let you choose between continuous shooting, motion capture and shooting the same image in three different exposure values.

The PL210, additionally, has smart filters like Miniature, Vignetting, Half Tone Dot, Sketch, Fish Eye, Defog, Classic, Retro, Negative and Custom RGB for shooting artistic pictures on the fly. You can also edit the pictures on the camera using these same smart-filters. This is adds great value to a consumer digital camera.

The camera doesn’t record Full HD video which is a bit of a letdown but it definitely records 720p videos at 30fps and 15 fps.

The box contained an AV cable, battery charger, USB cable Software CD (with the software ZoomBrowser and Photostitch), a 2GB memory card and the manual which is a good package. The major plus point for the PL210 is that it accepts microSD cards which is a cheaper option and is easier to find in local stores.
However, you have to be content with slightly slower performance.

Design, Interface And Usability

As I mentioned earlier the Samsung PL210 is not exactly a flashy looking camera like any other compact digital camera in the market. It has a two-tone finish with a fully silver metal front and the back is made of plastic which is black in colour.  The design reminded me of Pentax cameras with the slightly angular tilt.
However, the camera is extremely slim at 100.4 x 58.5 x 19.7mm and weighs around 148 grams which is light. The PL210 has a great build for single handed use as I faced absolutely no problem clicking photos on-the-go.

The plastic finish looks tacky and since most of the physical hardware buttons (i.e. the circular dial, mode, menu, play and function keys) are located on the back they also have the plastic finish to them. These keys are of inferior build quality and also tend to creak sometimes. I have never had problem with shutter buttons of the cameras I have reviewed but the PL210’s shutter button failed to have any sort of effect on me. It had very less travel and as a result I ended up clicking pictures unintentionally. I also have a gripe with the power button. After extended use I was finding that the camera took a good 3 seconds to just start and I thought it was a problem with the camera itself but I realised later that I wasn’t pressing the button right (It could also be a problem with the test piece I received).

Let us come to the user interface (UI) of the camera. By far this is has to be the most cumbersome UI I have used on a camera. It was very unintuitive. Even if I had to just change the shooting mode, I had to go through four cumbersome steps to get to the shooting mode eventually. The LCD screen also was not upto the mark as the viewing angles are bad and the visibility under sunlight is also not good.

Overall, the design and the usability factor of the camera is a bit of a let-down. It could have been much better.

Performance

 

The PL210 is by far the slowest camera I have tested. Apart from the fact that the power button had some issue, the camera took a whole 2.2 seconds to start and be ready for shooting.

The shot-to-shot performance was, however, a much better as the camera took 3.7 seconds to capture two images in quick succession and it took around 4.5 seconds with the flash on. Shutter lag is another negative factor as the camera took a whole 0.4 second for focussing and capturing the image. Auto-focussing took a lot of time and it can be quite an irritant while you wait for the camera to auto-focus when the subject has disappeared from the scene.

Don’t expect the camera to be super fast speed when trying to capture images in the full-resolution continuous mode. Because you have to be content with the 0.7 fps at which images are captured.

Image and Lens Quality

The PL210 captures good colours and they look natural. However, on closer inspection I found some chromatic aberration which was not that much of an issue and there was absolutely no barrel distortion. The images captured had a warm tinge to them and though some people might prefer this; I am not really a big fan. The contrast was also a little skewed in some of the images. The macro mode functioned really well and it lets you take pictures as close as 3cms from the lens and it captured some superb details.

The most fun I had with the camera was when I started using the smart filters. I played around with the filters for the maximum time with the camera. I particularly liked the sketch effect and if you are one of those who uses Photoshop to spice up images, then you might appreciate the smart filters. The captured images look pretty good too.

Also the camera managed to capture some great details even at 10x optical zoom and I was pretty impressed. It was a little difficult to focus when zoomed completely, but the end result was worth the effort. Though photographs captured in the night (low-light) condition have a lot of noise, the flash on the PL210 is one of the best I have seen on an ultra-compact consumer camera. The flash had a maximum distance of 12ft and it engulfs the entire area.

The ISO test revealed that images captured till ISO 200 were fairly usable but beyond that noise starts creeping in and making the images useless. The camera is not good for using manual ISO settings for capturing images. For all practical purposes, we recommend that you use the auto ISO settings.

Video Quality

I shall rather not comment about the video quality. The PL210 captures 720p videos at 30fps. All I can concur after looking at the captured video is that it is choppy, has bad colour saturation and the contrast is totally off. You should definitely not buy the camera if you intend to shoot videos sometimes. However, the sound recording is pretty decent and it in-built microphone captures all the sounds.

Battery Life

The battery life is really good and it can capture 240 shots in one single charge.

Samsung PL210: Specs

  • 14.2 MP
  • 10x optical ozone
  • Optical image stabilisation
  • 3in screen
  • Focal length 27mm - 270mm (35mm equivalent)
  • ISO 80 / 100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1600 / 3200
  • Maximum video captured resolution 1280 x 720 at 30fps
  • 14.2 MP
  • 10x optical ozone
  • Optical image stabilisation
  • 3in screen
  • Focal length 27mm - 270mm (35mm equivalent)
  • ISO 80 / 100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1600 / 3200
  • Maximum video captured resolution 1280 x 720 at 30fps

OUR VERDICT

The Samsung PL210 is meant for casual beginners who need to slip in a camera in their pocket and capture pictures on-the-fly. The 10x zoom is also a great plus. But a lot of small problems mar this camera from being the best easy-to-use camera off the shelves. You can’t find a camera with a better feature set in this price range i.e. Rs. 11,990 (you can find a better deal online). Also Canon IXUS 220HS could be a good option if you are looking for a camera which has great performance at a slightly higher price and smaller set of features. 

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