Samsung ST550 Review

4.0
December 10, 2009 | Mark Goldstein |

Image Quality


All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 12.2 megapixel SuperFine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 5.5Mb.

The Samsung ST550 produced images of above average quality during the review period. Noise is the main problem, being obvious at the relatively slow speed of ISO 200 and then becoming progressively worse at the faster settings of 400 and 800. ISO 1600 and 3200 are only to be used as a last resort.

Chromatic aberrations were very well controlled, with some limited purple fringing effects appearing only in high contrast situations. The 12.2 megapixel images were a little soft straight out of the camera at the default sharpen setting and require some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you can change the in-camera sharpening level.

Macro performance is quite good, allowing you to focus as close as 5cms away from the subject. Commendably barrel distortion is well controlled even at the 27mm wide-angle focal length. The built-in flash worked fairly well indoors, with no red-eye and adequate overall exposure.

Anti-shake works very well when hand-holding the ST550 in low-light conditions or when using the telephoto end of the zoom range. The maximum shutter speed of 16 seconds allows the camera to capture enough light for most after-dark situations.

Noise

There are 7 ISO settings available on the Samsung ST550. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

 
 

Focal Range

The Samsung ST550's 4.6x zoom lens offers a fairly versatile focal range, as illustrated by these examples:

27mm

124.2mm

File Quality

The Samsung ST550 has 3 different image quality settings available, with SuperFine being the highest quality option. Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.

12M SuperFine (4.88Mb) (100% Crop) 12M Fine (2.59Mb) (100% Crop)
   

12M Normal (1.79Mb) (100% Crop)

 
 

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are a little soft and ideally benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can also change the in-camera sharpening level.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   

Chromatic Aberrations

The Samsung ST550 handled chromatic aberrations very well during the review, with limited purple fringing present around the edges of objects in certain high-contrast situations, as shown in the example below.

Example 1 (100% Crop)

Example 2 (100% Crop)

Macro

The Samsung ST550 offers a Macro setting that allows you to focus on a subject that is 5cms away from the camera when the lens is set to wide-angle. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.

Macro Shot

100% Crop

Flash

The flash settings on the Samsung ST550 are Auto, Auto & Red-eye reduction, Fill-in flash, Slow sync, Flash off, and Red eye fix. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (27mm)

Auto - Wide Angle (27mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Flash Off - Telephoto (124.2mm)

Auto - Telephoto (124.2mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Auto setting or the Red eye fix option caused any red-eye.

Auto

Auto (100% Crop)
   

Red eye fix

Red eye fix (100% Crop)

Night Shot

The Samsung ST550's maximum shutter speed is 16 seconds in the Night scene mode, which is very good news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 6 seconds at ISO 80. I've included a 100% crop of the image to show what the quality is like.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Anti Shake

The Samsung ST550 has an anti-shake mechanism, which allows you to take sharp photos at slower shutter speeds than other digital cameras. To test this, I took 2 handheld shots of the same subject with the same settings. The first shot was taken with anti shake turned off, the second with it turned on. Here are some 100% crops of the images to show the results. As you can see, with anti shake turned on, the images are much sharper than with anti shake turned off. This feature really does seem to make a difference and could mean capturing a successful, sharp shot or missing the opportunity altogether.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length

Anti Shake Off (100% Crop)

Anti Shake On (100% Crop)

1/2th / 27mm
1/4th / 124.2mm

Entry Tags

review, 12 megapixel, touch-screen, samsung, 3.5 inch LCD, 4.6x zoom, self-portrait, st500, Samsung ST550 Review, haptic, tl225

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