Samsung’s ST series includes some of it’s more adventurous designs, with unique models such as the GPS, WiFi and Bluetooth-equipped ST1000, or the ST500 with its second front-mounted monitor. The ST5000 has several unusual features, but the most obvious is its big 8.9cm (3.5-inch) touch-screen monitor, the same screen as the ST1000. It has a resolution of 1,152,000 dots, more than four times the resolution of most compact camera monitors. As far as I am aware it’s the highest resolution monitor currently available on any digital camera, including digital SLRs, which usually top out at 920k.
Despite the huge monitor screen, the large size of the body still leaves plenty of room down the right-hand side of the body to hold the camera, and an angled lip and small textured area provide a good secure grip without obscuring any of the screen. One unusual aspect of the body design, which the ST5000 shares with the ST70, is that the bottom of the camera and the feet are designed so that when the camera is placed on a flat surface it is tilted slightly upwards. Fortunately it does balance rather better than the ST70, and is easy to position for a self-timer shot.
The touch-screen interface is well designed, with hidden fly-out sidebar menus that control most of the camera’s functions without need to delve into the main menu. The button zones are big enough even for my huge fingers, and it operates quickly and smoothly, with audio feedback whenever a button is pressed. As well as the touch-screen the ST5000 also has an accelerometer, and some functions in playback mode can be controlled by tilting the camera.
The ST5000 is basically a point-and-shoot camera, but it does offers some creative customisation. The menu offers Photo Styles, a series of colour effects and filters such as soft, vivid, retro and others, including a manually adjustable RGB filter. As well as this it has Smart Filters, more advanced digital filters such as miniature effect, vignetting and two levels of fish-eye lens simulation. Other menu options include the Auto Contrast Balance, which enhances shadow detail in high-contrast lighting.
Like most current compacts the ST5000 can shoot video at 1280 x 720 resolution and 30fps, but unusually it includes stereo audio, recorded by a pair of built-in microphones mounted on the top panel just above the lens. Like most Samsung cameras the zoom lens can be used while recording, with the option to mute sound recording while zooming so that the motor cannot be heard on the soundtrack. Video is recorded in MP4 format, and overall picture quality is good, but the microphones are almost completely non-directional and are quite prone to wind noise. It has an HDMI socket for video output.
One important point to note is that like the ST70, the ST5000 uses MicroSD cards for removable storage. This isn’t a problem as such, but they are very fiddly, and anyone who has a number of SD cards already may be annoyed at having to replace their existing memory cards.