The extra gadgets don’t appear to have had any negative effect on the ST1000’s performance. It starts up in just over 1.5 seconds, which is very quick, and in single-shot mode it has a shot-to-shot time of two seconds, which is also comfortably above average for a 12MP compact. Unfortunately though that’s as fast as it goes, because the ST1000 has no continuous shooting mode.
The video recording mode is as good as you’ll get from an ultra-compact, with a maximum resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels at 30 frames a second, with mono audio recorded via an internal microphone. In common with most of Samsung’s current camera range the optical zoom can be used while recording, although the zoom motor can be heard on the soundtrack. Video quality is excellent, recording in MPEG-4 H.264 format.
The autofocus system is also very good. The focus point can be selected using the touch screen, or either multi-point or centre-point focusing can be used. Focusing is quick and accurate, and low light performance is excellent. The camera has a good bright AF assist lamp with a range of several metres, and the flash comfortably exceeds its stated 3.3m range.
Surprisingly, considering the number of things it has to power, battery duration is very good. I used the camera over a period of several days, taking over 100 shots with the GPS system constantly active, and the battery charge indicator was still showing two out of three bars. Samsung claims 260 shots on a full charge for the powerful 1150mAh Li-ion cell, and I have no cause to doubt this figure.
Many Samsung cameras that I’ve tested previously have suffered from inconsistent image quality, but the ST1000 shows that some progress at least has been made in this area. Overall picture quality is very good, with accurate exposure and good colour rendition. The camera has a feature called Auto Contrast Balance which helps to boost shadow detail in high-contrast situations, but like most small-sensor 12MP cameras it is prone to burned-out highlights. Image noise is better than average for a 12MP compact, with usable images at 400 ISO, but as usual the 1600 and 3200 ISO settings are pretty much useless, with greatly reduced detail and colour saturation.
The only image quality problems I could find were the usual corner blurring often associated with periscope-type internal zoom lenses, and slightly inconsistent automatic white balance.
The Samsung ST1000 is a gadget-nerd’s dream, combining many of the features of a modern smartphone with a state-of-the-art ultra-compact digital camera. It is solidly made, performs and handles well and produces good results under a wide range of shooting conditions. It is very expensive though, so unless you really need the WiFi, GPS and touch-screen you can get the same picture quality for a lot less.