Samsung DV150F Review
The Samsung DV150F is a 16 megapixel compact camera featuring a 2.7-inch front LCD screen display for easier self-portaits and built-in Wi-fi connectivity. The DV150F also offers a 5x optical zoom lens with 25mm wide-angle setting and maximum aperture of F2.5, dual image stabilisation, 720p HD video recording at 30 frames-per-second, 3 inch rear LCD screen, a wide range of special effects, and the intelligent Smart Auto feature which automatically adjusts the camera's settings. The Samsung DV150F is available in black, white, purple, pink, or green, priced at £99.99 / $149.99.
Ease of Use
Looking for a snapshot camera for a late summer holiday break that won't break the bank, yet is a little different from all the rest that you could blow hard earned cash on? Samsung has one trick up its sleeve when it comes to humble point and shoot cameras wishing to stand apart from smartphones that no one else currently offers: both (smaller) front and (larger) back screens on the same camera. The pocket-sized DV150F (DV = Dual View) is the latest example of a uniquely twin screened snapper, being otherwise very similar in terms of design and feature set to single screen sporting ST150F model we've previously reviewed from its manufacturer. Thus to a degree our comments on its features and performance will be likewise similar.
For around £99, here we get a smaller front screen roughly the size of a large UK postage stamp at 1.48-inches, plus a bigger 2.7-inch backplate one, the latter offering a 230k dot resolution to the smaller screen's 61,000 dots. Naturally the front screen is there for deploying when the user wants to take a self-portrait - with Wi-Fi another feature included for the narcissistic wishing to publish every facial tick on their social media site of choice. A Samsung NX series-like Direct Link button is provided top right of this camera's backplate to further narrow the connectivity gap between point and shoots like this and smartphones and computer tablets.
As with the ST150F, the effective resolution offered is 16.2 megapixels from a 16.8MP, 1/2.3-inch CCD sensor. And once again the widest lens aperture is f/2.5 - not something one might automatically expect from a snapshot camera that readily slips into a shirt pocket. This runs up to f/6.3 at the telephoto end of its 5x optical zoom, its focal range starting out at a 35mm film equivalent of 25mm and running up to 125mm, which allows most subjects to be comfortably fitted with the frame. Look to Samsung's WB30 if you want a very similar camera but with a bigger 10X zoom (and no front screen). As with its numerically identical sibling the DV150F's maximum manually selectable ISO number is ISO3200 and its ability to automatically focus on subjects stretches from as close as 5cm up to infinity.
We had the cool white version of the twin screened DV150F in to look at, which thankfully doesn't look overly ‘budget' in terms of styling. Naturally alternative colour body choices are available including ‘plum'. As with the ST150F, the dimensions are sleek and narrow, the build mixing plastic and metal. The size is diminutive enough to rest comfortably in an out-stretched palm or slip into a clutch bag. Overall dimensions are an official 95.5x55.2x18.4mm, whilst it weighs 115g with battery or card inserted. The additional front screen stops the DV150F looking like your run of the mill digital snapper - though of course said screen is inactive until you've first selected ‘Self Shot' mode from within the camera's icon-led menu options or pressed the top plate ‘F.LCD' button.
As with the similar WB30F and ST150F, the video option here is restricted to HD rather than Full HD, offering 1280x720 pixels clips at a maximum frame rate of 30fps in MPEG4 format and in mono audio, with 640x480 and 320x240 pixels being further selectable options.
Differing from most of the latest generation digital compacts, there's no dedicated red record button for instantly commencing recording, which might have been the easiest route. Instead users have to first press the house-shaped home' key on the camera back and tab through the icon-led options to find the video mode (of which there are ‘smart movie' and regular movie choices). Once this has been selected, recording begins and ends with subsequent presses of the shutter release button.
In common with most cheap Samsungs, microSD is the removable media of choice for the DV150F. Yuck. Small and fiddly and requiring a card adapter in most cases we're not big fans, though we can understand the reasoning. Those smartphones featuring a slot for a removable card of any shape or form do tend to go for teeny microSD, so it's conceivable that the audience for the DV150F - we're thinking families and the young - might have one in their phone already, or at least be familiar with the format.
Also shared with largely cheaper cameras (but not always - witness the Sony RX1R!) is the fact that the camera battery is charged within the narrow body, aided and abetted via provided USB cable and USB-equipped mains plug rather than standalone mains charger. There's no software CD or even manual beyond the cursory quick start guide provided in the box, the size and shape of which resembles mobile phone packaging.
As for the Samsung DV150F itself, the lens dominates at the front, being fully retracted within the body when the camera is switched off. Top left of this sits a small porthole/window housing the self-timer/AF assist lamp alongside a familiar narrow strip housing the built-in flash bulb. This is just far enough away from the edge of the camera to avoid a finger straying in front of the flash bulb when gripping the DV150F in the right hand. If you've just powered up the device from cold though, it does take a few seconds' wait before the flash is ready to fire.
On the camera's top plate we find familiar controls a-plenty in a slightly raised shutter release button surrounded by a lever for manually controlling the zoom, a power button alongside it set flush with the bodywork, plus mono microphone and speaker slots. The difference here between the DV150F and 90% of snapshots however is the dedicated ‘F.LCD' or Front LCD button, a press of which will activate said screen whether you've chosen ‘Self Shot' from among the menu options or not.
Press the DV150F's power button and the camera powers up in 2-3 seconds, lens extending to maximum wide angle setting to the accompaniment of a mechanical buzz, whilst the backplate LCD bursts into life a second or so later. Squeeze the shutter release button down halfway and after a mere moment's wait focus and exposure are determined with a beep of confirmation. Press fully to take the shot and after a barely discernable delay the image is taken, a full resolution shot written to memory in all of two seconds, which given the DV150F's point and shot class is hardly cause for complaint. There is a tiny internal memory provided alongside the ability to insert that microSD card. Toggle the zoom lever and the DV150F glides through its entire albeit brief focal range in just two seconds, again accompanied by a low mechanical whirr. The above performance is exactly the same as the single-screened ST150F in that respect.
Moving around to the back of the DV150F, as we've mentioned this features a DirectLink button top right of the camera back, with a tiny pinprick of an indicator lamp located alongside it and to the left. As expected the majority of back plate ‘real estate' - roughly four fifths - is given over to the 2.7-inch LCD screen with equally run-of-the-mill 230k-dot resolution, though it does feature automatic brightness adjustment as its factory default. Normal, Dark and Bright are the other LCD display options selectable from amidst the settings menu.
Keeping the design looking minimalist, there's no mode button or dial on this camera, though as noted earlier we do get a smartphone or tablet-style ‘home' button instead. With a button press this serves the same purpose of calling up the shooting options on screen. It does however inevitably make it slower to arrive where you want than simply rotating a physical shooting mode dial directly to your desired setting.
Press the home button and we're presented with seven shooting options on the first screen, just like on Samsung's WB30F and ST150F. From top left on screen these are the default Smart Auto setting, the more expansive Program, a Smart Movie setting that detects scenes and subjects just like the ‘smart' stills options, plus a further plain Movie option that allows the user to exert some influence just like Program mode does. The bottom row of three options, moving again from left to right, starts with scene mode, the selection of which provides access to a rather sparse six settings, taking in landscape, sunset, dawn, backlight, beach and snow and text. Next along is the ‘Live Panorama' option that allows elongated images to be created whether you're panning with the camera via the vertical or horizontal axis, and in both directions on each, which is unusually flexible. As we've noted before, given that this is on the face of it your basic snapshot model, Samsung does place a lot more automated options at the photographer's disposal than you'd expect for the £99 asking price.
The final option of the seven on the first screen is for camera ‘settings'. Select this and we see the selectable choices are further split between sound, display, connectivity and ‘general' options - the latter affording access to the more generic set up options, such as date and time, AF lamp (seemingly on by default), the ability to format the memory in use and wipe all images, or specify the use of the DirectLink button, with the AutoShare option that allows your smartphone to receive pictures being the default here. What we did miss when navigating these choices was a ‘back' button, though it soon becomes clear that a press of the ‘menu' button serves the same purpose. Other options include the wireless transfer of pictures to a PC, the ability to send images via email when there is a suitable wireless network within range, or upload photos and videos to the Cloud. There is further the ability to use a smartphone as a remote viewfinder if desired; so again quite a comprehensive array in a camera so small and outwardly unassuming.
As with the ST150F, most of the above options then get repeated again as icons on the DV150F's second screen of app-like settings - we tab to the right to find it - MobileLink, Remote Viewfinder, Auto Backup and Email specifically. The third screen is a little bit more fun, affording as it does access to the previously touched on self-shot mode, a ‘Children mode' - wherein the front screen plays a little looped animation of cartoon bird ‘Pororo' to helpfully draw the child's attention to your lens - plus beauty mode, the night shot mode, close up mode - all of which could have arguably been included with the earlier scene mode setting.
Tab to the right to uncover an additional screen. Here we get the rather naff ‘Magic Frame' option that offers to place your unadulterated still within a rather tacky background - a Christmassy ‘holiday' option for example, along with wall art and billboard style options. Squeezed in between this and a ‘Photo Filter' option - digital effects by any other name - we have a ‘Beauty Palette' option. This automatically touches up pre-captured images in which the camera detects a face. You can then apply a range of pre-specified treatments such as a ‘silky' or even ‘milky' (!) complexion. Curiously a couple appear to make western faces look more oriental - or at least look like eye shadow has been applied. Interesting if you're a guy.
Back to the photo filters for a moment and just about everything one would want is provided here. So we get the now ubiquitous scenery-shrinking ‘miniature' mode, followed by these effects: vignetting, ink painting, oil painting, cartoon, cross filter (starburst-like highlights), the charcoal-like sketch along with the self explanatory soft focus, fish eye, old film - complete with grain and splotches - the American comic strip style half tone dot, ‘classic' black and white, retro colour and the final ‘Zooming shot' which blurs the edges of the frame to make it look as if the shot has been taken mid zoom. These are all exactly the same as the options found on Samsung's ST150F and WB30F. Most of these are also available for shooting movies as well as stills, which adds on four colour enhancing/subtracting ‘palette' effects.
The last few mode options on the camera include Split Shot, which allows you to take two or three photos in either portrait or landscape ratio and blend them together to form a single image; a funky idea that however means the image suffers an automatic resolution drop to three megapixels in the process. Also a cool idea searching for a practical use is Motion Photo which ‘animates' a still frame so that, for example, when played back the camera pans through it. Again this is the same line up of choices as provided by the ST150F, as are a lot of the features we'll touch on next.
|Memory Card Slot||Battery Compartment|
To the right of the ‘home' button, which provides access to all of the above as described, is a self-explanatory one for ‘menu'. By this point you might wonder which options might be left on what is supposed to be your common or garden snapshot, and especially given the comprehensive line up surveyed so far.
Press menu however when in Program shooting mode and, via a semi translucent menu overlay that extends two thirds of the way across the screen, once again top of the list of options we're offered the chance to activate or deactivate the DV150F's AutoShare feature. Next down on the list is the manually ability to adjust exposure +/- 2EV, followed by the ability to tweak white balance using pre-loaded settings or alternatively take a custom white balance. Next option down on this list governs ISO light sensitivity, with the range extending from ISO80 up to a maximum ISO3200, plus an auto option alongside. Whilst that appears modestly befitting the snapshot status, the flash options that follow next on the menu list are more comprehensive, comprising a red eye reduction and red eye fix option alongside off, automatic, fill in and slow sync; a fairly comprehensive range for a snapshot at this price point.
It's also in this menu list that we can get to switch between normal AF mode and the 5cm macro mode, and adjust the focus area between centre AF, multi zone AF and tracking AF. Face detection options also feature, with, as well as the ability to turn this option on or off, the option to set smile detection or blink detection. The same menu list allows us to set photo quality and resolution, and switch metering between multi zone, spot or centre weighted, whilst turning optical image stabilization on or off as desired.
Beneath the home and menu buttons sits the four-way control pad, with settings for display, self-timer, close up and flash settings, at their centre an ‘OK' button for affecting changes and choices. Completing the button layout, at the very base of the camera are the final two buttons for the obvious playback and delete. Again this control layout is one shared with the ST150F.
Whilst the left hand flank of the camera is devoid of any features and controls whatsoever, the right hand side features a means of attaching a strap and of recharging the camera via the featured USB port, which is squirreled away behind a small plastic flap near the base and a side screw.
Finally the base of the Samsung DV150F features a slightly off-centre screw thread for attaching a tripod, and a spring loaded cover protecting the joint compartment for the lithium ion battery and microSD card. Battery life does not appear overly impressive. But is the same to be said of the images the DV150F produces, or do better what might be expected of a straightforward snapper that fits in your palm or a pocket? Click forward to our next section to find out...