Samsung's DualView cameras remain the best choice for people who shoot a lot of self-portraits. Not necessarily because they take great photos, but because their secondary front LCD makes it very easy to see just what you're shooting--stills or video--from in front of the camera. The TL205 is currently Samsung's least expensive model with the feature, and it feels like corners were cut to get the price low. That doesn't make it a bad camera, but it's definitely one with limitations. It's basically a step up from an average camera phone or smartphone, and the convenience of the front LCD makes the TL205 good for the money. If you're having trouble seeing the value of that second screen, though, I suggest you skip it.
|Key specs||Samsung DualView TL205|
|Dimensions (WHD)||3.8x2.2x0.8 inches|
|Weight (with battery and media)||5 ounces|
|Megapixels, image sensor size, type||12 megapixels, 1/2.3-inch CCD|
|LCD size, resolution/viewfinder||2.7-inch LCD, 230K dots (1.5-inch front LCD, 61K dots)/None|
|Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length)||3x, f3-5.6, 35-105mm (35mm equivalent)|
|File format (still/video)||JPEG/Motion JPEG (.AVI)|
|Highest resolution size (still/video)||4,000x3,000 pixels/ 640x480 at 30fps|
|Image stabilization type||Digital|
|Battery type, CIPA-rated life||Lithium ion rechargeable, 240 shots|
|Battery charged in camera||Yes; by USB or included wall adapter|
|Bundled software||Samsung Intelli-studio (Windows)|
The DualView TL205 needs a fair amount of light to turn out decent photos. Indoors or in low light, photos are noisy with color problems and smeared details. They're so smeared, in fact, that above ISO 400 images look like there was Vaseline on the lens. Combine the high-ISO issues with the camera's generally slow shooting performance and you'll have a tough time getting a blur-free photo without bright lighting. On the other hand, if you're outdoors in the sun or have plenty of light indoors, it can capture nice portraits and landscapes for small prints, the occasional 8x10 photo, and Web use.
The TL205's 3x, f3-5.6, 35-105-millimeter lens (35mm equivalent) doesn't allow a lot of shooting flexibility. It would've been nice to have a wider lens considering it's geared for portraits, but you'll have to pay more for that. The lens has some asymmetrical distortion on the left side at the wide end, and you can still see a bit of the distortion with the lens extended. Center sharpness is pretty good, and it only gets noticeably softer in the corners. The lower right was particularly soft and smeary on my review camera. Fringe in high-contrast areas of photos is only noticeable at small sizes in extreme cases. Generally, though, it's only really visible when photos are viewed at full size.
Color performance isn't accurate, but that's typical for this class of camera. Still, colors weren't entirely unpleasant, though faces always looked too red for my tastes. Also, the auto white balance was too warm indoors. If you're shooting in auto and your photos look too warm, I recommend switching to Program and using a preset or taking a manual reading, which is as easy as pressing the shutter release.
Video quality is VGA-quality and good enough for Web use, but certainly not a reason to buy this model. The zoom lens does function while recording, but the mic shuts off so you won't hear the lens movement, autofocus, or anything else that would otherwise be picked up by the mono mic.
|General shooting options||Samsung DualView TL205|
|ISO sensitivity (full resolution)||Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1,600|
|White balance||Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent H, Fluorescent L, Tungsten, Custom|
|Recording modes||Smart Auto, Auto, Program, DIS, Beauty Shot, Night, Scene, Movie|
|Focus modes||Multi AF, Spot, Face Detection|
|Macro||3.9 inches (Wide); 2.6 feet (Tele)|
|Metering modes||Multi, Center, Face Detection|
|Color effects||Normal, Soft, Vivid, Forest, Retro, Cool, Calm, Classic, Negative, Custom|
|Burst-mode shot limit (full resolution)||Unlimited continuous|
Shooting performance is generally slow on sub-$150 cameras, and that's the case here, making the TL205 average for its class. It goes from off to first shot in 2 seconds and is up and ready to go again in 1.9 seconds; using the flash basically doubles that wait time. Shutter lag--the time it takes from pressing the shutter release to capture--is 0.5 second in bright lighting and 0.6 second in dim (though it occasionally felt longer regardless of lighting). Basically, trying to capture the shot you want of kids and pets or anything moving is tricky with this camera.
The TL205 does have a continuous option that shoots at 0.6 frame per second for as long as you have your finger on the shutter release. It sets focus and exposure with the first shot so it's better for slow or still subjects. Plus, the screen goes completely blank while you use it, giving you no idea what you've captured. There's a Motion Capture option that shoots up to 30 photos at approximately 6fps, but at VGA resolution. Again, the screen blanks out while you're using it and the results are not good, making them of limited use. What is nice is the inclusion of an auto exposure bracketing (AEB) setting that'll take three shots with different exposures: normal, underexposed, and overexposed.