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It's not all bad news though. Like most of the other Samsung cameras we've seen recently the PL55 does show encouraging signs of improvement. It features a new menu system which is a much better than that found on older models. Instead of three different menu systems controlled by three different buttons it just has one main menu for major camera settings and a live function menu for frequently used shooting settings. The menus are attractively designed, easy to navigate and are well integrated to work together. It's a significant improvement and makes the camera a lot easier to use than older models which could be annoyingly fiddly.
It does still retain some bad habits from previous models though. The buttons and D-pad are labelled with etched symbols that are almost invisible even in good light, but the zoom control has been improved and is now a lot smoother and more responsive, allowing accurate framing.
The PL55 is a fairly basic point-and-shoot camera, but it does have a number of useful automatic features. As well as the usual program auto and full auto modes, it has an easy-to-use Smart Auto mode with and effective scene recognition feature. It has a scene mode with 12 scene programs, including a “Beauty Mode” which smooths skin tones. It also has a handy Photo Help Guide, which explains which camera functions to get the best results in difficult conditions.
The PL55 only has digital image stabilisation, and the video recording mode is only 640 x 480 at 30fps, but like most Samsung cameras the optical zoom can be used while recording, although the sound of the motor can be clearly heard on the recorded mono soundtrack. Maximum recording time is limited only by the memory card capacity.