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Samsung slides out spring SL cameras

The company's mainstream models have modest aspirations.

Samsung's latest mainstream compact cameras--the company's SL series--may not be the most colorful or innovative we'll see this year, but at least the models in the lineup are clearly differentiable from each other and don't compete with each other at every $10 increment.

A the top of the line, the $249.99 12-megapixel SL820 has a 5X 28-140mm-equivalent optically stabilized zoom lens, a 3-inch LCD, and supports 720p H.264 MPEG-4 movie capture (the lens can zoom during capture). While the $50-down-the-line SL620 has the same resolution, LCD and a 5x lens, the lens is a narrower angle 35-175mm-equivalent version and it only offers plain-old 30fps VGA movie recording. Like all its competitors, Samsung includes the latest iteration of its automatic scene detection and face-detection related automation.

The budget models of the family, the SL202 and SL30 are fundamentally the same from a shooting standpoint: they use the same 10-megapixel sensors and 3x zoom lenses (of unspecified specification). The $149.99 SL202 is the more upscale of the two models, with a slimmer body, 2.7-inch LCD, the ability to shoot VGA movies, and more automation. The $99.99 SL30 gets by with a 2.5-inch LCD and can run off AA batteries.

All will ship in March.