Samsung ST550 review: Samsung ST550

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
Typical Price: £250.00

Samsung ST550

(Part #: CNETSamsung ST550)
4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Front-mounted LCD display has many uses; excellent 'haptic' interface; high-resolution display; high-definition movie mode.

The Bad Mediocre lens quality; pictures suffer from too much smoothing of fine details.

The Bottom Line The Samsung ST550 is extremely clever in some respects, but pretty ordinary in terms of picture quality. As an exercise in interface design and an electronic plaything, it's just fantastic. It's the number of ideas and the way they've been integrated into the design that impresses

8.3 Overall

Samsung's ST550 has received plenty of attention for being the first compact camera to have a second LCD display on the front. But this is only one of a number of highly innovative features that make this £250 snapper much more interesting than the average 12.2-megapixel compact.

Display delights
We've got to start with that second LCD display, and we're pleased to say that it's not just a gimmick. Anyone who's tried setting up a self-portrait will know how difficult it is to come up with a good shot when you can't see your expression, or your hair's gone wrong, or your thumb's in the way of the lens. It really is quite a novelty to be able to see what you and your companions look like as you set up the shot. Just point the camera towards you, then tap the front to activate the display. That tap also activates the face-detection system.

The ST550 produces crisp edges and good colours, but smoothes over fine detail and has a lens that goes slightly soft towards the corners. It holds up quite well at higher ISOs, though (click image to enlarge)

That's not all this extra display does. It can display a countdown when you're using the self-timer, show an animated cartoon to distract very small children while you're taking their picture, and even tell your subjects when to smile, by displaying a smiling face when you press the shutter button halfway down.

We've all managed without front-mounted LCDs until now, but the ST550 demonstrates that something that might sound like a pointless gadget can actually be extremely useful.

The front-mounted touchscreen isn't just a gimmick -- it really comes in handy

It's round the back that the ST550 is really interesting, though. It has a whopping, 89mm (3.5-inch) touchscreen interface with a difference. It's a 'haptic' display that produces a vibration when you activate an icon. This makes for a much more tactile experience than usual.

This interface has been used to do plenty of clever things. For example, you can click on any part of the scene to focus on it, and then keep pressing to take a picture. The interface also supports 'smart gestures', so that, for example, you just swipe left or right with your thumb to cycle through pictures in playback mode. You can rotate pictures with a circular movement and pan around magnified images using a sweeping diagonal motion.

Editors' Top PicksSee All

  • Canon PowerShot SX600 HS

    3.5 stars

    With its 18x zoom lens, simple straightforward automatic shooting, and built-in Wi-Fi,...

  • Nikon D3300

    3.5 stars

    The company's latest entry-level model delivers the speed and photo quality you expect...

  • 4 stars

    The Canon PowerShot SX260 HS is a powerful pocket camera with 20x zoom and GPS built in...

  • Samsung NX1

    4 stars

    Fast, sturdy, well-designed and with excellent photo quality, the Samsung NX1 hits all...


Discuss Samsung ST550

Conversation powered by Livefyre