The Samsung ST600 is a new dual-screen compact camera with many smart features and a simple touch interface
Samsung’s ST600 is a dual-screen upgrade of last year’s Samsung ST5500 compact camera. It has the same 1/2.33in sensor as the older ST550 but packs more pixels (14.2 vs 12.2 megapixels). It also has a slightly longer 5x (27mm to 135 mm) optical zoom lens than the 4.6x zoom on the ST500.
The lens aperture is F3.5 at wide angle, down to F5.9 at telephoto – normal for a compact camera. Samsung has also upgraded the ST600’s 3.5in WVGA LCD touchscreen with a higher resolution than the ST550. The new front display is an 1.8in TFT LCD with 116k resolution.
The Samsung ST600 comes with all the usual smart features for Samsung’s line of compact cameras. The Samsung ST600 has seven shooting modes - Smart Auto, Auto, Smart Movie, Program, Dual IS and Scene modes.
The Smart Auto mode takes a photo by detecting a scene and choosing an appropriate scene mode; a mode that’s helpful for first-time users. Smart Movie also determines the scene automatically prior to recording the video. There is no shutter speed and aperture-size changing option in the program mode which is a bit disappointing considering the price tag.
The usual Beauty Shot mode is included and in total there are 13 scene modes to choose from. Face Detection (up to 10 faces), face register (up to 6 faces), smile detection and blink detection are also present. Samsung also featured Smart Filters (miniature, vignette, fish-eye 1and 2, sketch and defog) to make photos more interesting.
The Samsung ST600 camera also lets you adjust saturation, contrast and sharpness in the camera; plus there’s an ACB (Auto Contrast Balance) feature to correct the exposure for high contrast subjects and backgrounds.
Focusing mode includes auto, macro, one-touch shooting, center AF, Multi AF (up to 9 points), and smart touch AF.
There are three metering modes - center, multi and spot. Drive mode includes continuous, motion capture (6 VGA photos per second) and AEB (takes 3 consecutive photos with different exposures).
ISO speed option starts from ISO 80 to 3200. There are various shooting modes and features despite the lack of usual P, A, S, M modes which we’d normally expect to see from a camera in this price range. The front LCD offers many useful features for shooting portraits.
Playback mode offers in-camera photo editing that allows you to apply different smart filter effects to the photos. The Smart Album feature categorizes photos by month or date to make viewing easier in the Samsung ST600 camera. The maximum image pixel that can be recorded is 4320x3240 and there are three image quality options - super fine, fine and normal.
The Samsung ST600 also records 720p HD video at 30fps with mono audio. Optical zoom is available during video recording but audio is disabled during zooming. The camera has 30MB of internal storage and supports microSD for external storage.
Design and Usability
A touchscreen is the main control centre for the camera. The camera has a minimal number of physical buttons, and these are arranged at the top. They include the front LCD activate button, power, shutter release with zoom ring and a playback/review button at the edge. The buttons are easy to reach and the top also sports a mono speaker and mono mic grille. The Samsung ST600's front 1.8in display can also be activated by tapping it. On the right are ports for charger/data cable and a mini-HDMI to connect the camera to a TV.
The Samsung ST600 camera is compact enough to fit into a trouser pocket and weighs around 155g (with battery). The glossy black plastic body, like the touchscreen, is attracts fingerprints and smudges. We also found that the touchscreen did not always register our touch input.
The display offers a smart gesture interface and the interface design enabled us to reach most of the controls and settings in a few steps. If it wasn’t for the unresponsive touchscreen, we would have few complaints about the interface. The screen has good visibility outdoors and the front facing display made shooting self-portraits fun and easy. We found its features like Jump Mode, Couples Mode and Kids Mode interesting and smart to use.
Like the earlier ST550, the Samsung ST600 did not disappoint in operating speed. The camera started up in 1.3 seconds. Auto focusing in low light stuttered a bit but there wasn’t an issue under most lighting conditions. Touch-to-focus is a smart feature and worked well.
Shutter-lag with or without pre-focus was measured at 0.15 seconds and 0.45 seconds respectively. Shot-to-shot time was good at 0.45 seconds with flash on and 0.35 seconds without. The continuous drive mode was a little disappointing, shooting at just 1.25 fps at full resolution. Overall, the ST600 offers useable speed but not the best at this price.
The lens showed good centre sharpness although corner softness on the left side was noticeable. The lens distortion or pincushion shouldn’t be enough to create an issue for casual photography. Sharpness in general is good for a compact.
Macro shooting was also good and we could get as close as 5cm to the subject, which is above average. Chromatic aberration was also slightly noticeable.
Colour reproduction was very lively, rich and vivid. The primary colours of red, blue and green were slightly over-saturated and images overall were slightly warm. ??Outdoor images came out well-exposed and showed good details. The colours are punchy and shadow details were retained well, although with some noise. The Samsung ST600 also has a problem with handling bright areas which is a common issue with most small sensor-size cameras. Bright areas in the images were easily blown out and over-exposed, resulting in lost details. Indoor shots show slight colour noise and again loss in details.
Noise level at ISO 400 was still well-controlled but details started to degrade. At ISO 800 and beyond, the loss in details and the added noise reached a point where images were suited only for small size print.
So the Samsung ST600 is not the best for low-light shooting but will be just fine outdoors where there is enough light. Flash range is sufficient and images within 10 feet came out well exposed but not without noise.
The 720p HD video clips we recorded indoors came out slightly noisy and reduced details. Frame rates were smooth and even outdoors, although bright areas were overexposed and easily looked blown out. The mono audio recorded was just average and good enough for casual shooting. Zooming was possible but the audio-cut during the zoom-in is a downer.
The Samsung ST600 has a disappointing battery life; the fully charged battery let us capture just over 100 images.
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