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Samsung PL150 review




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It's not easy to make a compact camera stand out from the crowd these days. There are over a dozen main manufacturers, dozens more minor ones, and nearly all of them have an extensive range of models, giving the poor bewildered consumer hundreds of different cameras to choose from, in many cases almost the only variation between them being the brand name on the front. Manufacturers are continually trying to come up with new features to give their cameras a unique selling point and an edge over the competition. Many now-common camera features such as HD video, image stabilisation and even LCD monitors were all once unique innovations, since copied by other manufacturers over and over until they have become the standard.

Samsung however has managed to come up with one unique feature which nobody else has copied, or at least not so far. The PL150 that I'm looking at today is the latest Samsung compact camera to feature a secondary LCD monitor on the front of the camera, to help with framing self portraits and self-timer group shots. It also has a couple of other fun uses, but we'll come back to that later. It's a feature that has appeared on a previous Samsung camera, the touch-screen ST500 launched about this time last year, as well as a few other current models from Samsung's very extensive range.

Apart from that unique feature the PL150 is a fairly ordinary budget compact, and in terms of overall specification it's good but fairly unremarkable. It features a 12.0 megapixel 7.79mm (1/2.33-inch) CCD sensor, a Samsung-branded 5x zoom f/3.5-5.9 lens (equivalent to 27-135mm), and the rear monitor is 7.6cm (3.0 in) with 230k resolution. It has optical image stabilisation and can shoot 720p HD video. The current price of £149 puts it towards the higher end of the range compared to similarly-specified rivals, such as the Olympus FE-5050 (£127), the Nikon S3000 (£90), the Pentax H90 (£80), or indeed Samsung's own excellent ST70 (£123). Is that front monitor enough to make up the difference?


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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