In the hand the SH100 feels small, light and pocket-friendly – the kind of camera you can carry just about anywhere. The 5x zoom sits almost flush when closed, extending little more than an inch at its maximum reach. In a neat little touch the flat base of the camera is slightly angled, so that when rested on its side the camera points up ever so slightly, making self-portraits that little bit easier.
There’s no finger grip as such, although there are a couple of ridges on the back to dig a thumb into. While it is possible to get a fairly firm hold of the camera without a proper finger grip, you’re more likely to drop it should someone bump into you and for this reason we’d advise using the bundled wrist-tie so as to minimise the risk of damage should you accidentally drop it. Outer construction is primarily plastic, with a metal lens surround.
Being touch-screen operated, physical buttons are few and far between. Pressing the Home button on the back of the camera takes you to the main menu, where you’ll find all of the camera’s options neatly laid out in square icons that closely resemble the apps found on a Samsung smart-phone. No doubt this is a deliberate ploy to make the camera chime with its intended audience and it certainly does make it easy to navigate.
Sadly it’s not quite all good though – while pressing icons to launch shooting modes and features is simple enough, using the touch-screen for anything more advanced quickly shows up its limitations. In short, it’s unresponsive and clunky, and anything that requires you to scroll through drop-down menus can be especially trying.
The trick here is to press and hold and then scroll, however even once we thought we’d mastered it we still lost count of the amount of times we inadvertently found ourselves in the wrong sub-menu owing to the clunky touch-screen controls – a Samsung Galaxy S2 this most certainly isn’t.
In terms of performance the SH100 is very much in line with an average point and shoot. That said, we’re happy to give the autofocus performance a thumbs-up, if not strictly for performance, but rather the range of options you can choose from: single-point, multi, macro are just three of the more common options. In addition, the SH100 also offers a touch-screen AF option that allows you to set a point of focus by touching it on the screen, in much the same way that Panasonic’s Touch AF technology works.
Speaking of the screen, this is one area where the SH100 badly lets itself down. It’s a 3in, 230k-dot TFT affair, which is fairly common for a compact of this price. Contrast levels are very poor so images look especially flat and devoid of life, regardless of whether you are using the screen to compose or review images. Bright sunlight makes the screen all but unusable too, while viewing angles even in the shade are fairly restricted.