The Samsung ST5500 has a long 7x optical zoom and records 720p HD video and we did not have much complaints on the performance part as a compact point-and-shoot camera. However, its price tag is rather high and it has average battery life.
Samsung just can't seem to stop loading up its cameras with new and never-seen before features. First it was the dual screen... and now the Wi-Fi!
This new Samsung ST5500 is one fine example of Samsung's dedication to innovation. It is a touchscreen digital camera which offers a multitude of features. Let's quickly check out the specs and head for the shooting.
Samsung ST5500: Design
The Samsung ST5500 is a touchscreen-based camera that has done away with as many physical buttons as is possible. It has a good build quality thanks to the metallic front and the strong plastic body at the back.
It has a matte finish instead of glossy which makes it less prone to smudges. Samsung sent us the orange colour Samsung ST5500 for review which is a bit too colourful and obtrusive for our taste. We'd personally prefer the black model, even though a grey Samsung ST5500 is also available. However, the orange model proved popular with some people who saw it in the office.
Samsung built the Samsung ST5500 with what it called hydro-formed lines, a fluid-accented body and it stands at seven degree angle when placed on the flat surface to optimize self-portrait shots. One impressive touch that Samsung incorporates on the camera design is that the lens spec is written backward on the lens barrel exterior surface so that the reflected image on the outer concave ring is readable. This is visible only when the zoom extends out.
The Samsung ST5500 weighs 161g (without a battery and memory card) almost as heavy as the Canon IXUS 210 and it is not the lightest compact we've seen but yet portable.
The body has a dimension of 103.8x58.3x19.6mm is slightly bulky but still portable and would fit into jeans pockets. The Samsung ST5500 camera offers a good grip while holding with one hand.
The main control of the Samsung ST5500 is via the large 3.7-inch AMOLED screen and it has a strip on the right side which provides adequate space for thumb rest. The top has just three buttons – shutter release, playback and power switch.
The button controls on the top are well placed and are easily distinguishable except for the playback button which is rather small and is flushed with the top. The flash placement on the front left of the Samsung ST5500 did not pose any problem like fingers obscuring its lights.
The Samsung ST5500 is easy to use and the touchscreen has a simple neat interface. The screen has very vivid colours and at times highly saturated but all in all, the response and interface design is good. Our only problem was the poor screen visibility outdoors which makes using the camera under bright sunlight almost impossible until and unless we shadowed the screen. Indoors though, it offers a good viewing angle and contrast.
The side has proprietary port for data cable and one miniHDMI port which will let you view your images directly to an HDTV.
Samsung offered a simple and uncluttered touch interface, and all controls are just a few taps away. All sufficient controls and functions are neatly laid out on the three corners of the screen – the right and the bottom screen has hidden icons for essential functions and they can be brought out by simply tapping the small arrow buttons - we found this really user-friendly.
Samsung ST5500: Features
The Samsung ST5500 is a 14.2Mp camera and its Schneider Kreuznach Lens has a focal length of f=5.6~39.2mm; 31-217mm (in 35mm film equivalent )which turns out into a 7x optical zoom – quite impressive for a compact camera. However, a 31mm at its widest setting is not very impressive while other touchscreen cameras like Canon IXUS 210 and Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX7 offer 24mm and 25mm respectively.
Even the older dual-screen and touch-based camera, Samsung ST550 packed a 27mm wide angle lens. It has a Dual IS mode to combat hand-shake while shooting and its ISO speed ranges from ISO 80 to ISO 3200. The display is an impressive 3.7-inch WVGA AMOLED screen which is of resistive touch based with 11,52K colour support. Like the dual-screen Samsung ST550, the ST5500 also supports microSD instead of the standard SD-card, and there is a 13MB of internal memory. The ST5500 records 720p HD video recording at 30fps.
As in most touch-based cameras comes with One Touch shooting apart from Face Recognition, Face Detection, Smart Touch etc. The camera offers variety of shooting modes which include Smart, auto, program, Dual IS and Scene ( 13 scene modes including the famous Samsung's Beauty Shot) for still images.
There are two modes for videos – smart and auto. The most notable feature of the ST5500 is its Wi-Fi connectivity that enables the camera to directly email images or uploading images to sites like Picasa, Facebook and Samsungimaging.com. It also has Bluetooth 2.0 connectivity to let you transfer images wirelessly from the camera to other Bluetooth enabled device. The camera has All Share technology tag which makes it compatible with all kinds of DLNA compatible devices.
One interesting feature that the ST5500 offered is the Smart Gesture UI combined with its built-in accelerator. As in the Canon IXUS 210, tilting the camera scrolls the images while viewing and you an specify various gestures in to different commands. Though this sounds innovative, it is more of a gimmick than being actually useful.
However, we found the USB charging feature really useful as every time you plug in the camera to your PC, you are assured that the data transfer won't drain the battery.
NEXT: testing the Samsung ST5500 >>