The 14.2-megapixel ST100 is the latest entry in Samsung's range of dual-screen compact cameras. There's one screen on the back, as usual, and one on the front, which is useful for taking self-portraits and keeping the kids amused while you're taking their mug shots. Samsung is currently unique in offering this type of camera.
You'll pay a premium for the twin screens and glossy finish, though. The ST100 is on sale for around £260, which is towards the top end of the price scale for a snapshot model.
The ST100's dimensions are a slender 100 by 60 by 20mm, and it weighs a pocketable 135g without a battery or memory card inserted. Disappointingly, you'll need to use a small and fiddly microSD or microSDHC card, rather than the more commonly used SD or SDHC formats.
Like some other compacts from Samsung, the ST100's lens sits at a slight angle in the body, pointing upwards. According to Samsung, this allows you to obtain a more natural, tighter grip on the camera. Although, despite its glossy finish, the ST100 doesn't feel like it will suddenly slip out of your grasp, there's actually nothing resembling a hand grip on this model. Its front-facing screen is situated where your fingers would normally snake around the face plate, with the screen surround the only thing that you can try and dig your thumb into at the back.
Consequently, camera shake is a problem, despite Samsung providing both optical and digital anti-shake options. We found it quite tricky to get a sharply focused shot when taking snaps indoors without a flash, even in apparently well-lit situations.
Back to front
In keeping with the times, both of the ST100's monitors are touch-sensitive. You tap the one on the front a couple of times to activate it, and prod the one on the back to select and implement common settings and functions. There's also a dedicated top-mounted button for turning the front screen on and off.
The ST100 is noteworthy for being Samsung's first 'dual view' camera to feature an internally stacked optical zoom. It boasts a 5x reach, equivalent to 35mm to 175mm in 35mm film terms. It's handy when you'd like to pull a subject slightly closer without simply taking a few steps forward -- so it's perfect for shooting skittish wildfowl and pets. A nudge of the zoom lever and the camera takes 3 seconds to travel smoothly through the entirety of its optical focal range. Any operational noise is almost imperceptible. This means the optical zoom can be deployed when shooting 720p video clips, which is a bonus.
While the ST100's back screen measures an impressive 3.5 inches, with a 16:9 aspect ratio and a high resolution of 1,152,000 pixels, the screen on the front is pokey by comparison, at 1.8 inches. The rear LCD screen basically forms the entire back plate. There are no other controls alongside it, so the camera retains its fuss-free appearance both on the front and back, at least when the camera is inactive.
The camera does have some physical controls, though. On its top are a shutter-release button, a zoom rocker switch, a power button and a button for illuminating the front LCD display. There's also a useful playback button, which means you don't have to tap the rear screen a couple of times to see your images.
When shooting still images in the default 4:3 aspect ratio, black bands appear on the left and right of the rear display. These disappear if you opt for one of the video modes, which utilise the full width of the screen.