The L310 is an unassuming-looking camera, with a simple but attractive round-cornered design. The body is half plastic, half aluminium, and the overall build quality is very good, as I have come to expect from Samsung. The camera is available in the matt black finish shown here, a well as silver, brown and the inevitable “hot” pink, all with the same chrome trim. The L310W is quite a small camera, measuring 91.6 x 61.3 x 23mm, and it’s quite light too, weighing approximately 150g including battery. The rounded shape is a bit slippery to hold when shooting. There is a raised feature on the front that provides some finger grip, but the small ridge on the back that is supposed to provide a thumb grip really doesn’t.
The L310W’s control layout is almost identical to the L210. It has an eight-position mode dial on the top plate which has a few unusual settings. It has the usual full auto, program exposure, scene mode and high-ISO mode, but also has a useful and surprisingly comprehensive camera guide, a nice “Beauty Shot” mode that softens and warms skin tones, and even a limited manual exposure mode, with full control over shutter speed and minimum or maximum aperture.
The rear panel buttons are rather more confusing than they need to be. Like the L210, the L310W has three different menus accessed by three different buttons. Surely it would be a lot simpler to combine the superfluous “E” menu with the function button, saving space on the back of the camera? And why does the image stabilisation system need its own button? Surely that should be a menu option? The chrome-on-chrome imprinted button labels are hard to see in low light, making it very easy to accidentally turn off the image stabilisation system.
As with the L210, I don’t like the L310W’s zoom control much either. It is a clunky and slow up-down rocker switch, and the zoom travel is stepped with seven increments. It’s also impossible to turn the digital zoom off, so it’s possible to stray into picture-ruining territory.
Surprisingly, considering that Samsung is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of LCD screens, the L310W’s monitor isn’t all that good. It’s bright enough for daylight use, but it has quite a low refresh rate and a severely limited angle of view, especially when held above head height.