Samsung ST90 review: Samsung ST90

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...stings like a turnip

The ST90 is unnecessarily complicated to use. The camera's functions are effectively split between three completely separate but similar-looking interfaces. Press the 'mode' button, for example, and you can scroll up or down through the camera's chief shooting options, choosing between smart-auto, program, movie and scene modes. Press the 'menu' button and you'll be faced with a lengthy, multi-page selection of camera settings. Finally, the Fn button overlays a scrollable list of settings over your image preview, but many of the options here are also presented in the menu screens.

Bold colours don't make up for the grungy, underexposed look of this shot. There's plenty of picture noise present too, even though this was taken in bright sunlight (click image to enlarge).

The ST90's performance is hit and miss. Colours are certainly bold enough and there's no lack of punch in areas of bright contrast. But, in auto mode, the ST90 has an annoying habit of underexposing or overexposing your shots. We found that several of the test photos we took in bright sunlight turned out oddly murky and dark. On other occasions, images seemed very washed-out and overly bright.

The rather ineffectual digital image stabiliser frequently fails to keep the camera steady, resulting in a higher-than-average number of shots spoiled by blurring. Further blurring is exhibited around the edges of the frame, particularly when you're shooting at the wide (26mm equivalent) end of the 5x optical zoom.

Picture noise is an issue too, even when you're shooting in daylight -- just look at the pinkish dots in the grey areas of the first image above. Indoors at higher ISO settings, noise is even worse, and we wouldn't recommend using the ST90 in low light without relying on the built-in flash.

Conclusion

As a cheaper, simpler alternative to the ST95, we'd expected the Samsung ST90 to have fewer features, but we were surprised at how badly the camera compares to the next model up in terms of image quality. Not only that, but the ST90's confusing interface will probably also put you off using it in anything other than smart-auto mode. If you're seeking an easy-to-use, inexpensive point-and-shoot camera, we recommend looking a little further up Samsung's snapper hierarchy.

Edited by Charles Kloet 

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