Samsung SH100 review: Samsung SH100

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The Good The Samsung SH100 has features tailor-made for people wanting the functionality of their smartphone camera in a point-and-shoot.

The Bad The SH100's low-light photos are not good and its performance can be slow. Also, wireless uploads are limited to 2-megapixel photos and 30-second low-res movie clips.

The Bottom Line If you like all the photo apps for your smartphone camera but miss having an optical zoom, the Samsung SH100 is the point-and-shoot for you.

7.6 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 9
  • Performance 7
  • Image quality 6

Samsung seems to be the only camera manufacturer really pushing forward with Wi-Fi in its cameras. It's launched a handful of wireless-enabled models over the past couple years, but they've been mysteriously hard to come by, so I haven't been able to review one. That changes with the SH100.

The camera has built-in 802.11n wireless that can be used to connect to your Wi-Fi network for automatic backups or viewing on DLNA-equipped devices; connect to other Samsung Wi-Fi cameras for sharing; connect to hot spots including those provided by Boingo (an account comes with the SH100) or wirelessly tether to a smartphone; and connect to an Android 2.2-powered Galaxy S smartphone, 7-inch Galaxy Tab, or iPhone 4 with iOS 4.3.

That last option can be used to upload content to sharing sites, but it will also allow you to control the camera remotely. Your display turns into a viewfinder and you can move the camera's zoom lens as well as hit the shutter release. It'll also use the phone's GPS receiver to geotag your shots. (Samsung plans to extend these features to other non-Samsung Android smartphones as well.)

Outside of the wireless features, the camera is just a nice ultracompact. It's using a 14-megapixel CCD (1/2.3-inch type), a 26mm-equivalent wide-angle lens with a 5x optical zoom, and a 3-inch touch-screen LCD, and shooting modes are automatic, meaning there's no full control over aperture and shutter speed. In fact, using it is a lot like using a smartphone camera due to an abundance of filters and simple editing tools. Oddly, given the extensive shooting features, Samsung used digital image stabilization--not optical or mechanical--which is its biggest feature shortcoming.

Key specs Samsung SH100
Price (MSRP) $199.99
Dimensions (WHD) 3.7 inches by 2.1 inches by 0.7 inch
Weight (with battery and media) 4.7 ounces
Megapixels, image sensor size, type 14 megapixels, 1/2.3-inch CCD
LCD size, resolution/viewfinder 3-inch touch-screen LCD, 230K dots/None
Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length) 5x, f3.3-5.9, 26-130mm (35mm equivalent)
File format (still/video) JPEG/H.264 AAC (.MP4)
Highest resolution size (still/video) 4,320x3,240 pixels/ 1,280x720 at 30fps
Image stabilization type Digital
Battery type, CIPA rated life Li-ion rechargeable, 220 shots
Battery charged in camera Yes, by proprietary USB cable via wall adapter or computer
Storage media microSD/microSDHC
Bundled software Intelli-studio, PC Auto Backup (Windows)

Photo quality from the SH100 is good up to and including ISO 400. Like most sub-$200 point-and-shoots, it's not a camera you'd want to use in low-light conditions or indoors without a flash. The photos get spectacularly worse above ISO 400, picking up a lot of color noise and losing detail. Actually, noise is a bit of a problem even at the SH100's lowest ISO sensitivities when photos are viewed at full size; if you need to enlarge and heavily crop your photos and still want to use them for large prints, I would skip the SH100. However, if you're considering this for its online-sharing capabilities and don't typically make prints larger than 8x10s or view images at large sizes onscreen, the SH100 is a safe choice for the money. It is because this camera is designed primarily for Web sharing that it earned a higher-than-usual photo-quality rating.

Colors produced by the SH100 were very good at and below ISO 400: bright, vivid, and pleasing. The auto white balance is good, which is important since this camera really is all about automatic shooting. If you do want more say in the end result, in the Program mode you have access to manual white balance and custom RGB sliders as well as sharpness, saturation, and contrast sliders.

There's a slight amount of barrel distortion at the wide end of the lens and barely perceptible pincushioning with the lens extended. More importantly, the lens on my review camera was inconsistent with some softness off to the sides, particularly the left side. Center sharpness was OK, though.

Video quality is on par with a basic HD pocket video camera; good enough for Web use and casual TV viewing. Panning the camera will create judder that's typical of the video from most compact cameras and you will see ghosting with fast-moving subjects. The zoom lens does function while recording, though the audio cuts out slightly while the lens is moving. Image stabilization is digital only.

General shooting options Samsung SH100
ISO sensitivity (full resolution) Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
White balance Auto WB, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent H, Fluorescent L, Tungsten, Custom Set
Recording modes Smart Auto (photo, movie), Program, Scene, Simple Shot, Magic Frame shot, Beauty Shot, Object Highlight, Night Shot, Close Up, Vignetting, Photo Filter, Movie Filter, Movie
Focus modes Multi AF, Center AF, Smart Face Recognition AF, Face Detection AF, Smart Touch AF, One Touch Shooting AF
Macro 2 inches (Wide); 3.3 feet (Tele)
Metering modes Multi, Spot, Center-weighted, Face Detection
Color effects Custom RGB, multiple photo and movie filters
Burst mode shot limit (full resolution) Unlimited continuous