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Samsung ST550 review: Samsung ST550

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The Good Front-mounted LCD display has many uses; excellent 'haptic' interface; high-resolution display; high-definition movie mode.

The Bad Mediocre lens quality; pictures suffer from too much smoothing of fine details.

The Bottom Line The Samsung ST550 is extremely clever in some respects, but pretty ordinary in terms of picture quality. As an exercise in interface design and an electronic plaything, it's just fantastic. It's the number of ideas and the way they've been integrated into the design that impresses

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8.3 Overall

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Samsung's ST550 has received plenty of attention for being the first compact camera to have a second LCD display on the front. But this is only one of a number of highly innovative features that make this £250 snapper much more interesting than the average 12.2-megapixel compact.

Display delights
We've got to start with that second LCD display, and we're pleased to say that it's not just a gimmick. Anyone who's tried setting up a self-portrait will know how difficult it is to come up with a good shot when you can't see your expression, or your hair's gone wrong, or your thumb's in the way of the lens. It really is quite a novelty to be able to see what you and your companions look like as you set up the shot. Just point the camera towards you, then tap the front to activate the display. That tap also activates the face-detection system.

The ST550 produces crisp edges and good colours, but smoothes over fine detail and has a lens that goes slightly soft towards the corners. It holds up quite well at higher ISOs, though (click image to enlarge)

That's not all this extra display does. It can display a countdown when you're using the self-timer, show an animated cartoon to distract very small children while you're taking their picture, and even tell your subjects when to smile, by displaying a smiling face when you press the shutter button halfway down.

We've all managed without front-mounted LCDs until now, but the ST550 demonstrates that something that might sound like a pointless gadget can actually be extremely useful.

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