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Samsung PL150 - Design and Features

By Cliff Smith



Our Score:


The overall build quality of the PL150 isn't bad, although the controls do feel a bit cheap and flimsy. The body shell is made of shiny black plastic, and despite the raised ridge on the front right edge the finish is very slippery and the camera is hard to hold securely. The control layout is basically the same as last year's PL55 and bit of a step backwards compared to the controls of the ST70.

Main shooting mode selection is via a thumb-wheel dial on the back, labelled with printed symbols that look like they'll wear off eventually. The buttons feel cheap, and the lower two are labelled in a hard-to-read embossed characters. The D-pad is small and fiddly, and also feels cheap and poorly mounted. At least the menu system is quite pretty, although it lacks the flashy animations of the more up-market WB2000.

The front-mounted monitor is much smaller than the main rear one. It has a diagonal size of just 3.8cm (1.5 in), and a resolution of 61,000 dots. When switched off it is virtually invisible behind the black plastic of the camera shell, but when activated, by pressing a button on the top panel, it displays the same image as the rear monitor. The second monitor is obviously helpful when framing self-portraits, or self-timer group shots, but it also has another function. Pressing the button again replaces the monitor view with a cute animated clown, ideal for drawing the attention of very young children who can otherwise be difficult to photograph. Although the idea of a second monitor screams “gimmick” It is a genuinely useful feature, although only under some fairly specific circumstances. It works well in lower relatively dim light, but the screen isn't bright enough, and the camera body is too reflective for it to be much use in bright daylight.

The body design does have one less obvious unusual feature; the rear of the bottom plate is angled in such a way that when the lens is extended the camera can be balanced on a flat surface either in the normal upright position, or angled back by approximately seven degrees, also to help with self-timer shots.

The cameras other features are fairly routine. It has 720p HD video recording, shooting at 30fps with mono audio. As usual with Samsung compacts the optical zoom can be used while filming, although the zoom motor is clearly audible on the soundtrack. The PL150 has optical image stabilisation in both still and video modes, and it does work quite well, providing about three stops of extra stability. One further point of interest; the PL150 is the latest of Samsung's cameras to use the MicroSD memory card type, more usually found in mobile phones. With a camera this size there's no real reason not to use the now almost universal SD card format apart from sheer awkwardness.


November 14, 2010, 1:24 am

Hello, nice review there!

However, I want to mention that this camera does have the Auto Contrast Balance feature as in the ST70. In fact, I think the lens and sensor is exactly the same as the ST70 (same focus, same 27mm wide-angle, etc.). I was wondering why it wasn't explored in the review during the test shots.

Also, a new firmware was released for this drive recently, available on the samsung imaging website. Can you give it a test drive to see if it changes anything? (No changes observed by me here.....)


November 16, 2010, 6:30 pm

I enjoyed your review Cliff.

I've had my Samsung PL150 since it came out in Australia in March 2010 and I love it.

1. I can't agree with your gripe about the micro SD card - it's not a problem for me in practice. My 8GB card stays with the camera and was less than 30AUD back in March. I think they needed the space to fit the 2nd LCD. My phone also takes microSD. I have an SD adapter and a microSD USB reader. However most of the time I transfer photos via USB cable.

2. "As usual with Samsung compacts the optical zoom can be used while filming, although the zoom motor is clearly audible on the soundtrack."

You must have different software to mine. While it's great that you can zoom while recording video, I've always found it annoying that the camera mutes the audio while zooming. So you don't want to zoom if the audio is important like recording a concert or speech. I have the latest October 2010 firmware 008301 (available at http://tiny.cc/samsungpl150) and it still mutes.


3. The front LCD screen is great and I use it frequently for self portraits including video, attracting attention of kids and love the countdown with the self timer. Once the kids get sick of the clown there are many more animations available for download.

4. Love the USB charging - great when transferring photos and handy when travelling when you only have one mains adapter and it's used by your PC.

5. I don't know about what cables it comes with in the UK but here in Oz there was no AV cable nor micro HDMI cable. The AV cable is proprietary and not easy to find - I tracked it down on a trip to Shanghai a few months ago. The AV cable picture quality isn't very good. On the other hand if you can get a micro HDMI cable the picture quality is superb on a big HD TV. Back in March it was impossible to find a micro HDMI cable. I finally got my micro HDMI cable a few weeks ago for about 6 dollars with free postage at


6. I take a lot of videos of my kids and I love the video capabilities of the PL150. My PC isn't up to processing 720 HD video so I just leave it at 640x480 30fps and I find the quality is fine for home movies. One minor gripe with the video format is that my favourite video editor Windows Movie Maker 2.1 doesn't natively support the MP4 format files. I have to run them through MP4Cam2AVI which is fast because it doesn't re-encode the video. Another gripe is that the MP4 videos didn't natively play in the latest Samsung Series 7 3D LED TV.

7. Love the wide angle lens. Great for group shots and self portraits with other people in shot. 5x zoom is also very useful.

8. Love the long exposure on night shots - much better than my previous Sony DSC-W50


9. Not happy with the video shutter lag of about 1.3s. I've missed important moments many times.

10. Playback is very slow to scroll through photos especially with 9 or 20 thumbnail mode.

11. Smile detection didn't work well for me - usually ended up with a blurry photo so I turned it off.


November 26, 2010, 2:41 am

bought as a gift for someone but after a couple of days of playing with it I gave up and returned the camera ...


- unacceptable picture quality at full zoom, high ISO or low light conditions - too noisy at full zoom, struggles to focus correctly at low light - often blurry pictures)

- battery life is frustrating/very short (this is definitely not a travel cam)

- camera kept freezing for some reason (nothing helped just taking the battery out for a sec. and pushing back in, then switching it on again)


- handful of useful features (suitable for social/family photography)

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