Samsung PL150 - Design and Features

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.

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