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Samsung PL70 review: Samsung PL70

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The Good 5x wideangle zoom; practical USB charging; neat design and controls.

The Bad HD movie quality not that good; disappointing Dual IS mode; weak continuous shooting.

The Bottom Line The PL70's a decent camera for the money, but it's a long way from perfect. The basic picture quality is fine and it's a decent camera to use, but not all of its features live up to their promise. It's not bad. It's alright. But you can say that about a gazillion other compacts in this price band

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The PL70 is Samsung's top of the range point and shoot camera and sells for around £150. For that, you get a handy 28mm wide-angle 5x zoom, HD movies, a barrage of face-detection options and a rather neat design. But is it enough to make it a winner?

Sharp-looking shooter
The PL70 certainly looks good, thanks to its brushed-metal finish, and it handles well too. It shares the same control layout as the cheaper PL60, with a firm and positive mode dial and an effective four-way controller. A function button takes care of standard adjustments such as EV compensation, white balance, ISO and metering patterns, while more basic setup options can be found in the main menu system. The LCD display is big at 76mm (3 inches) across, and it's bright and clear too. The autofocus is good, though the PL70 is rather slow at zooming in and out.

There are some interesting nuggets of tech in this camera, including a Smart Auto mode that does a pretty good job of figuring out what you're shooting and adjusting the settings automatically. Smart Albums can categorise your pics after you've taken them, and an Auto Contrast Balance option is useful for tricky lighting conditions. There's also the usual raft of face detection/smile detection/blink detection options. And still on the theme of portraits, there's a Beauty Shot mode that  retouches your subject's skin to make it look smoother.

The PL70 produces good colours and great definition -- and it's not bad at high ISOs either. There's no chromatic aberration to speak of and very little distortion, too (click image to enlarge)

That's all fine in theory, of course, but what are the pictures like? Pretty good, actually. The Samsung's colours are excellent, as is the definition, though as usual with compact cameras the subtler detail does tend to get smoothed over and the zoom loses some definition at maximum range.

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