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Samsung ST50 review: Samsung ST50

Samsung's ST50 looks the part of a very compact digital point-and-shoot, but the images it produces could be sharper.

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 ST50's main design selling point is its thin metallic body, which measures in at a teeny 16.6mm wide. That makes it very pocket friendly, at least in theory, although with a 2.7-inch LCD on the back, it would be unwise to have your car keys in the same pocket at the same time. The one other consequence of the ST50's thin body is that the lens itself protrudes out quite noticeably.


Samsung ST50

The Good

Compact size. Decent for novices.

The Bad

Average image quality. Some menu options are annoyingly hidden. Slow shutter speeds.

The Bottom Line

Samsung's ST50 looks the part of a very compact digital point-and-shoot, but the images it produces could be sharper.

As with many compact digital cameras these days, the LCD is your only point of interaction with the camera, as it lacks an optical viewfinder of any kind. The controls along the top of the camera are the power, "smart" program button and zoom/shot controls, and down the back are some very tiny buttons for menu and basic shooting style selection. If you've used any recent compact digital camera, then basic shooting with the ST50 should be well within your grasp.


At a technical level, the ST50 sports a 12.2-megapixel sensor and a 35-105mm equivalent lens with 3x optical zoom. Internal storage is an incredibly poky 31MB, but it's SDHC compatible, with cards slotting in next to the battery at the base.

Samsung's big selling point in the ST50's feature set is the "Smart Auto" setting. Simply put, the button on the top of the camera switches between two modes only — "Smart" Auto (similar to everyone else's automatic shooting modes, at least in theory) and program modes. In some ways it's a clever option to offer, as the market for compact digital cameras is largely comprised of those who just want to take quick happy snaps, rather than more complex photography, by and large. At the same time, it does make some selections rather tiresome, which we'll deal with shortly.


Powering up time was acceptable but not great at around 1.2 seconds. Sadly, that's the fastest this camera got, although we were often torn between working out whether that was due to slow shutter speeds or rather difficult controls. In many instances, we'd make a selection or pick a shot, only to have the ST50 sit there twiddling whatever passes for thumbs in the digital compact world, largely because it hadn't registered the button press properly.

The decision to allow users to turn the auto shooting mode on or off immediately makes sense on paper, and if you always wanted the camera to pick the best shooting parameters, it would probably make sense in the real world, too. There's just two small problems with this. Firstly, its automatic selections are often odd, with more than a few of our shots picking the wrong focal point, or badly overexposing some images.

Secondly, when and if you do want to move beyond auto selection, it makes fast switching of settings all but impossible. If you're already in smart auto mode, you're at least four button presses away from some key functions. We did like the fact that the camera display walks you through the differences that changing each setting will make to your pictures, but if you wanted to make a swift change to take advantage of a particular temporal shot — forget it.

As with most LCD-only compacts, the ST50 isn't at its best in bright sunlight, where it's as much a matter of pointing and praying as it is of carefully choosing your best shot.


Ultimately, the ST50 is an acceptable compact with a nice slim form factor, but in such a competitive market segment, that's barely enough. You're essentially paying a premium for the slim form factor, and it's not that much more portable than anything else, and you're still hampered by some poor menu choices and overly fiddly buttons.