The PL80 offers a good range of features. It has five basic shooting modes; Still shooting modes include Program Auto with a full range of menu options, a simpler Smart Auto mode in which most menu options are restricted to automatic, Dual IS mode which combines optical and digital image stabilisation with full menu options, and a Scene Mode, with a fairly typical range of scene programs. There is also a video recording mode, but this is a little primitive by recent standards, shooting in 640 x 480 resolution at 30fps with mono audio, although the optical can be used while recording. The zoom motor is quite loud on the soundtrack, but there is the option to turn off audio recording while zooming.
The PL80 has a wider range of menu options than many budget compacts. Metering options include multi-zone, centre-weighted and spot metering, while autofocus modes include centre-zone, nine-point multi zone and tracking AF. There is a wide range of colour styles including a custom RGB option, and contrast, saturation and sharpness are all adjustable. The menu also includes the ACB automatic contrast control to compensate for high contrast lighting. It does help to improve shadow detail, but doesn’t really do much for burned out highlights. There is even a limited form of manual exposure control, with a selectable aperture and long-exposure shutter speed in the Night Shot scene mode.
Samsung’s optical image stabilisation system is effective, allowing shake-free hand-held shots at shutter speeds of 1/20th of a second. In the Dual IS mode in combination with the digital image stabilisation it can produce sharp shots at 1/10th of a second even at full zoom, but the processing time is very slow and the processed image quality isn’t particularly good.