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Samsung PL50 review: Samsung PL50

Samsung doesn't ask for much money upfront for the PL50, and it doesn't deliver much in return.

Alex Kidman
Alex Kidman is a freelance word writing machine masquerading as a person, a disguise he's managed for over fifteen years now, including a three year stint at ZDNet/CNET Australia. He likes cats, retro gaming and terrible puns.
Alex Kidman
3 min read


The box for the PL50 bears a line claiming that it's been "Style-Slimmed To Perfection". Leaving aside the images of compact digital cameras with bulimia that immediately sprang to mind, we were struck by how this was, to put it gently, a big fat lie. The PL50 is a chunky little beast for a compact digital, measuring in at 89.0x56.5x21.5mm. Put it next to the Canon IXUS 95 IS, or even Samsung's own ST50, and the PL50 presents itself as being on the rather robust side. That's pretty much just physical dimensions rather than weight, however. At 116g, you're not likely to feel the PL50 dragging your pants down.


Samsung PL50

The Good

Logical camera controls. In-built Photo Help Guide.

The Bad

Camera quality is very ordinary. Very slow in-between shots.

The Bottom Line

Samsung doesn't ask for much money upfront for the PL50, and it doesn't deliver much in return.

Our review sample came in a dazzling metallic pink finish. Samsung's website indicates the existence of black and silver models as well, if pink's not your thing.

We tested the PL50 alongside the ST50, and the difference in finish is quite noticeable. Where the ST50 feels nicely solid and metallic, the PL50 feels rather cheap and plastic. The flip side of the construction is that we hugely appreciated the PL50's logically laid out controls, with power and shot buttons at the top of the camera, and a selection wheel, zoom rocker and function buttons down the right-hand side of the PL50's 2.7-inch LCD. As with a number of recent compact digitals, no optical viewfinder is provided. Boo. Hiss.


The PL50's feature set is, on the surface, fairly generic. It comes with a 10.2-megapixel CCD, equivalent 35-105mm lens and 3x optical zoom. You get a truly awful 9MB on-board memory — perhaps that's the bit that's been "slimmed" in the factory — but SDHC support is there, and you'll need it. So far, so generic.

The PL50 features the usual automatic and program shooting modes, along with a couple of interesting modes that could appeal to the more Photoshop-averse crowd. First of all, there's Beauty Shot mode, which automatically applies a smoothing filter to your shots to eradicate lines and blemishes from those you're taking photos of. With genuine novices in mind, the PL50 also includes on its dial a Photo Help Guide setting. This takes you through the camera's settings with different problems in mind. What's quite cool about the Photo Help Guide is that it's not just a static embedded chunk of text. For each of its examples, you're guided to practice your shots with the key controls activated, so that you learn what to do as you're working it out. It's an intuitive way to teach camera functionality, and we liked it a lot.


The PL50's Zoom controls took some getting used to, but put alongside the ST50's, we were in no doubt that they were preferable, simply due to being larger and more immediately available. At a basic level, this camera does perform.

From start-up to being able to shoot, the PL50 took an average of 1.7 seconds, which isn't surprising for a camera on the cheaper side — but it isn't good either. As with every other optical viewfinder-free compact digital, you'll struggle to see much on the viewfinder in bright sunny situations.

Shot quality was average for most shot types, with a very noticeable lag in between shots, especially in some of the camera's custom modes. While you may be tempted to use the PL50's beauty mode for some quick catwalk photography, the massive processing lag in between shots would make that something of a non-starter. As with the ST50, there was also a tendency for some colours to wash out in automatic shooting modes.

We reckon the PL50 is fairly priced at AU$249, but it's also not really something to get all that excited about. There are plenty of cameras in this price range that are better, and a little more money can buy you a much better compact camera.