As regular readers will know, I’m not a big fan of touch-screens on digital cameras. Most of them suffer from a number of problems, but my most common complaint is that the virtual buttons are usually far too small for my gigantic fingers, inherited in some Lamarckian way from my blacksmith grandfather. Even on a large screen like the one on the ST1000 I find operating the camera to be quite fiddly, particularly using the on-screen QWERTY keyboard used for entering wireless passwords and email addresses, but to be fair anyone less handicapped by plus-sized paws is probably not going to have much of a problem with it. The touch-screen is of the capacitance type, so it will only respond to a finger touch, not to a stylus.
Personal bugbears aside, the various technologies integrated into the ST1000 do work very well. It connected to my home wireless network with less trouble than my laptop, and seemed to have a greater range than my flatmate’s smartphone. We’ve seen WiFi-equipped cameras before, such as the Nikon S50c or the Canon IXUS Wireless launched in 2006, but the ST1000 is the first one that includes a two-way interaction with social networking and file-sharing websites. You can use the camera to upload to and browse your photo albums and video files on Facebook, YouTube, Picasa and Samsung’s own Imaging website. You can also send pictures and messages via email, share files via Bluetooth and copy images to a local hard drive on the network. It’s nice and easy to use, with a simple drag-and-drop interface for selecting which photos to share.
The GPS is also very simple, and operates with complete transparency to the user. It finds a satellite signal much more quickly than most of the stand-alone GPS devices that I’ve tried, and automatically adds location data to all image files, to be used in geotagging applications such as Google Earth or Locr.
The ST1000 does have a couple of even more unusual features. One is an accelerometer which is used for gesture-based operation. Touch the appropriate icon on the screen, and a quick flick of the wrist puts the camera into video recording mode, program auto or Smart auto shooting modes. To be honest this really is just a gimmick, and is no faster or easier than pressing a button to select these modes, but since Samsung’s engineers seem to have designed the ST1000 with the express purpose of cramming as many gadgets as possible into it, I guess it was either that or an MP3 player.
Another unusual feature of the ST1000, and one which makes it even more apparent that it is a cross-breed of camera and mobile phone, is its choice of memory card. It’s the first camera I’ve seen that uses MicroSD cards, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last. MicroSD is a popular format for smartphones and PDAs, and are available in the same range of capacities as regular SD cards, but the larger capacity ones are still very expensive. The camera has a fairly generous 100MB of on-board memory, but even this is only enough for 14 shots at maximum quality.