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Samsung S85 - Samsung S85

By Cliff Smith



Our Score:


On first impressions, the S85 is uninspiring. Compared to Samsung's striking NV models it is a very plain-looking camera, with a conventionally-styled plastic body finished in silver and grey. The shape of the body is a simple rectangular box with rounded-off corners, and is thicker at the right-hand end to accommodate the two AA batteries that provide it with power. This thicker end and the chrome strip on the front provide a comfortable handgrip, although the very smooth finish is quite slippery. The body is quite strong, and overall build quality is well above average for a budget camera. For some bizarre reason Samsung claims in both the specification list in the manual and the description on the company website that the S85 is only 23.4mm thick, which would put it into ultra-compact territory. This measurement is "excluding protrusions", but since those "protrusions" include the lens, monitor screen and a big chunk of the camera's body they're not really fooling anyone. In fact the camera measures 101 x 65 x 34mm and weighs over 200g including standard alkaline batteries, so it's quite large and heavy compared to many other low-cost compacts, such as the Pentax E40.

The control layout appears at first to be very simple, with just three buttons, a D-pad and a mode dial. This offers full auto mode, program auto (in which more features are available), manual exposure mode, scene mode, portrait mode (with face detection), night shooting, movie mode and "ASR". This stands for Advanced Shake Reduction, but unfortunately this is one of the systems I was talking about in my article yesterday. It may sound like image stabilisation, but in fact all it does is boost the ISO setting by a couple of stops to give a faster shutter speed, at the cost of increased image noise.

Despite the apparent simplicity of the controls, they are in fact made rather complicated by the presence of three separate menu systems. The main menu, activated by the button in the centre of the D-pad, controls some camera settings, including sharpness, contrast and AF mode, as well as set-up functions such as shutter sounds, menu language and card formatting. As well as this there is a Function menu for other common shooting parameters such as exposure compensation, white balance, metering mode, drive mode, image quality and ISO setting. A third menu is activated by the ‘E' button, which with impeccable logic stands for Effects. These include colour correction and effects, a strange and not terribly useful colour mask feature, a more useful three-slider colour adjustment feature, and a frame composite mode that puts Pentax's much derided offering to shame. Why Samsung felt that these features, which will be rarely used at best, needed their own separate menu button is a mystery. Personally I think they would have been better relegated to a page on the main menu, leaving the control system a lot less fiddly. The proliferation of obscure functions is not helped by the fact that the engraved labelling of the rear panel controls is difficult to make out even in good light. In the dark it is completely invisible.


July 18, 2008, 6:19 pm

This is now 㿧-99 with free delivery from play.com!

Bev 1

September 10, 2008, 6:43 pm

Camera picture quality is great, but mine stopped working after 2 months and custommer support is terrible. They are trying to charge 㿏 for repaire and handling, the camera only cost $105 thats 㿣. If the camera had been damaged fair enough but it just stopped working. Better off spending more money on a better built camera.

Denis Swift

September 25, 2008, 3:06 am

Suggestion for Bev: It's pretty obvious that your camera had an inherent fault right from the start. So you're covered by the Sale Of Goods Act (an item must be suitable for the application). Don't talk to Samsung (unless you bought it direct). Speak to the people you bought it from - that's who your contract's with. You're entitled to a replacement or, if you prefer, your money back. If they mess you around, get in touch with the Trading Standards people: www.consumerdirect.gov.uk/. DON'T complicate things by dealing with the manufacturer. It's the retailer who's in the firing line.

James Mills

September 26, 2008, 2:35 am

Mine also broke after 3 months. It completely locked up and was sent back to Samsung via Comet. 6 weeks later and I have finally managed to get a refund from Comet as Samsung are claiming its accidental damage and want 㿌. Whats even more annoying is that I can't find a comparable camera for what this cost (㿷)

john whale

January 19, 2009, 11:01 pm

i bought a samsung 6mp camera 2 years ago, it takes great pictures and i have had no problems with it.

despite owning a sony a200 and a nikon d40, i still use the samsung very often.


March 22, 2010, 6:16 pm

This has been a good little camera for me. I bought one second hand when the battery door broke on my Canon Powershot, making it unusable, and I didn't have time to get it repaired. I have a couple of niggles, however:

1. When I first bought this camera, the battery life was appalling. I tried it on normal Lithiums and on the Ni-mHs I had used in my Canon, and on both types the batteries lasted barely a day on even very light usage. In the end, I bought the Samsung batteries and charger recommended in the manual. These are much better: howver, I would still class this camera as battery-hungry. The Samsung rechargeables will last me a few weeks on light usage, but the Canon was much more efficient.

2. This camera takes great outdoor shots and inside is usually ok. However, I sometimes use it with the youth group I run. We meet in a big hall with overhead fluorescent lights. The pictures it takes in the hall from a distance more than a few feet are just awful: blurry, saturated with yellow and grainy. Even in Photoshop it's hard to get them to a decent quality.

However, overall I'm very satisfied with this camera. Ease of use and outdoor im age quality are its strong points. After using this, I got my grandparents a Samsung too, and while they're techno-phobic generally, they have no problems using it, it's so simple.


October 18, 2011, 4:08 pm

Oldie but goodie

Mike L

November 26, 2013, 3:58 am

Mine just broke after I dropped it accidentally while the lens was extended. Anyway, it has served me well for several years.

I also had a problem with the batteries. It could only last a few shots before shutting down when I used alkalines and NiMH.

Finally managed to get it to work properly when I started using Low Self Discharge NiMH such as Sharp Eneloops and PowerEx Imedions.

Photo quality is quite decent, although low light performance was a bit poor.

Camera is quite easy to use, and I have taken thousands of shots with it. It probably would have kept on working another few years if it had not been dropped.

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