The new Samsung ST550 (aka TL225) features dual LCDs – a touch screen at the back, and a 1.5″ screen at the front for self-portraits etc. The ST550 features a high resolution 3.5″ 1,152k pixel touch screen, a 12 megapixel sensor, a wide angle 4.6x optical zoom lens (27mm – 124mm), 720p HD video recording, optical image stabilisation, and 18.9mm thin body. The ST550 is available from £179 in black and purple, silver, gold, black, or orange.
Samsung have this to say: “Delivering an unrivalled user experience, the ST550’s hidden 1.5″ LCD located on the front of the camera allows you to take accurate portraits using the front image as a guide. Couple this with a huge 3.5″ LCD that boasts the best resolution yet and you have a real winner. Storage medium: Micro SD card (not included).” read more on Samsung’s Website.
Specifications / Features:
- 12.2 megapixels
- 4.6x optical zoom – 27mm Wide angle lens
- Dual Image Stabilisation – Digital Image Stabilisation and Anti-shake Sensor
- 3.5” LCD with haptic feedback
- Smart Gesture UI
- Perfect Self timer
- Perfect Self-portrait
- Face detection (up to 10)
- Blink detection
- Smile detection
- Beauty shot
- 720P HD Movie / H.264 Format (1280×720) HDMI
- Smart Face Recognition
- Smart Auto Mode (Scene Recognition)
- Scene mode
- Smart album
- Recycle bin
- Auto Contrast Balance
- ISO80 – 3200
- Li-on Battery, in camera charging system
- Storage medium Micro-SD card (not included)
- Samsung ST550 / ST225 Digital Camera
- USB Wall adapter (USB cable connects to this)
- Samsung USB Connector to USB Cable
- Samsung USB out to A/V Cable
- Wrist Strap
- CD Rom User Manual PDF
- SLB-07A 720mAh 3.7v Lithium Ion Battery
A case isn’t provided and I would highly recommend you invest in one, as well as a screen cleaning cloth as it quickly attracts fingerprints.
Picture size and Quality: Options are 12mp, 10mp (3:2), 9mp (16:9), 8mp, 5mp, 3mp, 2mp (16:9), 1mp, with three compression options: Superfine, Fine, and Normal. Higher quality images take a large amount of memory, so a high capacity memory card is definitely recommended, unless you’re prepared to sacrifice image size or compression to fit more pictures in memory. There is a good choice of image sizes, compression options and aspect ratios.
Battery: The battery life was a little disappointing as I could only get about 100 – 140 shots on one charge. Luckily the ability to charge the camera through the USB cable helps combat this, because every time you transfer pictures from the camera to your computer you are charging the camera again.
Memory cards: A large memory card is relatively cheap, and highly recommended, I would recommend at a bare minimum a 1gb memory card, if you intend to take fine JPEG images, and preferably a 2gb memory card, or larger. The larger the memory card, the more photos you will be able to take. If you are likely to go on holiday then the largest memory card you can afford would definitely be worth investing in, as you don’t always know when you will next be at a computer. You can use MicroSD or MicroSDHC memory cards. Have a look at our guide to digital camera memory cards or our article what size memory card should I buy?
Speed: The camera is generally quite quick – not noticeably slow. However the camera takes 3.3 seconds to switch on and take it’s first photo which is a little slow – switching off the startup image speeds things up and it then takes 1.6 seconds to switch on and take a photo. Continuous shooting shoots at 1fps. Shot to shot time is around 2 seconds with preview off. Focus is quick at around 0.3 seconds, and shutter response is very quick at under 0.1 seconds (normally 0.05s).
Ease of Use (and Menu): The camera is easy to use – and the menu is fairly straightforward. The only difficulty is when you need to select a different mode by tilting the camera – if you’ve just been passed the camera then it doesn’t come automatically to mind. There is a smart auto mode that helps for beginners, along with a number of scene modes, and the options are clear and easy to press without being too small. Image stabilisation should also help get clearer photos.
Ergonomics and buttons: The camera is very stylish – and looks much better in real life than in the pictures – although there isn’t much of a hand grip and it’s a little slippery at times so use the wrist strap is highly recommended. One downside for me was that the camera uses MicroSD cards which are small and fiddly compared to normal SD cards. The zoom control is also rather small.
Image Quality: The lens is good, providing a decent wide angle lens and a good amount of zoom, and image quality is generally good. The macro mode is good. View sample photos in the Samsung ST550 / TL225 Gallery.
Video: It records 720P HD videos as .MP4 files, with sound and has H.264 compression that means you should fit long videos onto your memory cards. Optical zoom is available however sound is muted when you use it. Video quality is very good. (Video grab shown above – click to enlarge – or watch the video on youtube)
Dynamic Range Mode: The Samsung has a feature called ACB – Auto Contrast Brightness – it adjusts the photo to give more detail in shadows and highlights and can work quite well.
The back screen is very high resolution – 1152k pixels – compared to the normal average of 230k this is very impressive – and photo viewing is a very good experience on the large bright screen. The front screen can be difficult to see in bright sunlight, however the back screen is good in most conditions.
Image Quality: Image quality is generally good – with good colour, detail, and low noise. Occasionally images seemed a little soft (however this could be due to the camera’s small size and difficulty to hold firmly – it could also be due to the camera favouring lower ISO settings, rather than boosting the ISO) and there was some red-eye in flash photos. I didn’t notice any vignetting (darkened corners). 8/10
Everything else (the camera as a whole): The camera is available in a number of colours as long as you want black – the colour that you can choose from is only on a small part of the camera. But nevertheless the camera looks good, and feels like a well built camera. The main selling point of the ST500 / ST550 is the front 1.5″ screen which is great feature to have especially if you’re socially active (or even if you’re just social on the internet, on facebook or twitter for example). With the ST550, the large 3.5″ screen on the back is very impressive with a very high resolution of 1152k pixels, and the touch-screen is good to use as well. The camera has a very good HD video mode, a 27mm wide angle lens, image stabilisation, and good macro mode. Better battery life would be useful. Is there anything missing? It would be nice if there was a rubber grip on the front and back, and a high speed backlit CMOS sensor. (And manual controls – although I think this would a step too far for the intended market) 9.5/10
Value for Money: Good – initially the price was quite high but over the months the price has become much better value for money – and is priced competitively with other compact cameras – and has one of the best touch screens available, and Samsung is in a unique position or being the only manufacturer to offer a front screen. Other compact cameras worth considering include the: Canon Digital IXUS 210 IS and 130 IS, Panasonic Lumix FP1, FP2, and FP3, Sony Cybershot TX7, and Olympus Tough 8010, or for more zoom the: Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR. 8/10
Conclusion: I’ve used a few Samsung cameras in the past and been a little disappointed, but not with this one! The front screen is useful, clear, and fun for social events – friends really like taking photos of themselves with it – so you tend to capture genuine smiles with it. The huge 3.5″ touch screen on the back is very good – better than a lot of touch-screens on mobile phones! And the way you can tilt the camera to choose modes and scroll through photos is quite neat once you get used to it. (Although it can be confusing for people who want to switch from photo to video mode, and don’t know how to do it). Image quality is good, and the camera provides a useful zoom range, and set of features, such as a very good HD video mode, the camera also fits very neatly into small pockets making it easy to take with you everywhere you go.
Samsung ST550 / TL225 Rating: Recommended (8.5/10)
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What I Like:
Excellent 3.5″ touch screen with high resolution
Fun Front screen
Good wide angle 4.6x optical zoom lens
Compact and stylish metal body
Recycle Bin (can undelete photos)
Good photo quality
Very good HD video quality
Good macro mode
Optical zoom available on videos (sound muted)
Includes face detection and anti-shake technologies
Focus assist lamp
What I Don’t Like:
Uses MicroSD Cards (Small, fiddly, rarer than SD)
Small zoom control
Difficult to view front screen in sunlight
Slippery body – easy to drop
Poor battery life
View our Samsung ST550 / TL225 Sample Photo Gallery
Samsung ST550 is available from Amazon UK.