Shooting options on the TL225 go deep, but they're overwhelmingly geared for point-and-shoot photography, which is fine. (The only direct controls over shutter speed and aperture are available in the Night scene mode.) The Smart Auto mode automatically chooses the appropriate camera settings based on 11 scene types. Want to pick your scene type? There are 13 to choose from, including a Children mode that starts an animation playing on the front screen in an attempt to get the attention of your subject. Those who don't want to touch any settings can put it in Auto, which locks most options from being changed. My preference was for the TL225's Program mode because you get the most shooting options and control over results, but it takes more user effort. There are several focus options such as the ability to touch your subject onscreen; you can also touch and hold and the camera will focus and shoot (though it would be nice if you could just tap and have it focus and shoot without continuously pushing on the display). There are plenty of little extras, too, such as effective backlight compensation, exposure bracketing, and a motion-sensitive shutter-release timer.
While it's easy to pick up the TL225 and start shooting, I strongly suggest thoroughly reading the manual. Aside from discovering all of the features that are at your disposal, it's the only place you'll find out how using a feature affects others. Turning on face detection, for example, limits other shooting options, and instead of just graying them out or telling you that something's unavailable because of face detection, Samsung just removes the options altogether, leading to a lot of "where was that" menu taps.
Performance is fairly average, neither bad nor exceptional. The camera starts up reasonably fast at 1.5 seconds, but then requires an average wait of 2 seconds between subsequent shots. Turning on the flash only extends that time to 2.6 seconds. It takes a reasonable 0.5 second to focus and shoot in good light and only goes up to 0.7 second in dim conditions. The TL225's burst mode lowers the photo resolution to 640x480 pixels. Nevertheless, it does have a continuous drive option capable of 0.9 frames per second. Worth noting is that we saw a performance difference between a cheap microSDHC card and a slightly more expensive card from a name brand.
The photo quality for the TL225 is overall very good, especially below ISO 400. At ISO 400 subjects get a little softer, but fine detail remains strong thanks to a good balance between noise and suppression. That balance continues up to ISO 800, so low-light performance is better than most ultracompacts. The camera can do full-resolution shots at ISO 1,600 and ISO 3,200, however, noise and suppression kills most detail and causes color shifting and yellowing. The TL225 is capable of taking very sharp photos, but sometimes a little too sharp, which makes subjects crunchy. On the upside, if photos look over-processed, Samsung includes the ability to adjust sharpness, contrast, and color saturation.
The wide-angle lens showed no barrel distortion at its widest position and a barely discernible amount of pincushioning when the lens was fully extended. Other than some distortion out in the corners, the lens was near consistent edge to edge and there was no picture-destroying purple fringing in test shots. However, my guess is chromatic aberration is being digitally removed based on visible fuzzy edges in high-contrast areas when photos are viewed at 100 percent.
Colors are generally accurate and very pleasing; if you don't like them the way they are, the TL225 has several options for tweaking them. The auto white balance was usually better than the presets, which tended to be on the cool side. Exposure was good, though as typical of compact cameras, clipped highlights aren't uncommon and the Smart Auto mode seemed to struggle now and then, resulting in photos that looked washed out. I also don't recommend Smart Auto for self-portraits because it tended to make faces look soft while keeping everything else sharp.
Video quality is very good, and you do get use of the optical image stabilization and zoom while recording. The camera does kill the audio, though, while the lens is in motion so you don't hear it zooming--or anything else for that matter. One pleasant surprise is the ability to apply one of Samsung's Photo Styles to your video, including the Custom RGB option.
The Samsung DualView TL225 is an awesome little camera. It's not for everyone; although its extra abilities are nice, the secondary front LCD is definitely more for those who would rather be in front of the camera than behind it. Also, the touch-screen interface might drive some people insane regardless of how responsive it is. The camera is a standout in design and features and actually solves a real problem instead of just being a gimmick.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Time to first shot||Typical shot-to-shot time (flash)||Typical shot-to-shot time||Shutter lag (dim)||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
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