Samsung PL150 Review

June 2, 2010 | Mark Goldstein | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


The Samsung PL150 (also known as the TL210) is a new 12 megapixel point and shoot camera with a twist - it has a second 1.5 inch LCD screen on the front which makes it much easier to take self-portrait pictures and videos. As part of this DualView system the PL150 also offers a large 3 inch rear LCD screen, plus there's a 5x, 27-135mm lens, 720p high-definition video recording, and a clever Smart Auto mode which automatically chooses from 16 different scene settings. The Samsung PL150 / TL210 is available in black with red or blue highlights, priced at £179.99 / $229.99.

Ease of Use

Constructed out of robust plastic with a glossy black finish and complemented by subtle red detailing, the Samsung PL150 is a very stylish and slim compact camera, especially considering its budget price-tag. The 5x optical lens extends to provide a 27-135mm focal length, versatile enough for anything from wide-angle landscapes to candid head and shoulder portraits, although there are other similarly-sized models that offer a bigger zoom.

The lens dominates proceedings at the front of the PL150, taking up almost the full height of the face plate, with the built-in flash bulb shifted over to the left out of harm's way. On the right of the lens is a small porthole-style window for the AF assist/self timer lamp. There's no hand-grip at all on the glossy front of the PL150, just a small outward curve, which makes the camera more difficult to hold steady when shooting handheld at the extremities of the zoom.

Also positioned on the front of the camera is the headline-grabbing secondary LCD screen, which is 1.5 inches in size. Virtually un-noticeable when not in use, this provides an intuitive way of taking better self-portraits, either with your arm out-stretched holding the camera or mounted on a tripod. Being able to see a preview makes it easy to tell if you're going to cut the top of your head off, and the large self-timer countdown (if that feature is activated) also helps in the timing of that award-winning smile. Helping you to take better self-portraits is the clever Tilt-back body, which angles the camera slightly upwards when its put on a flat surface.

Samsung's Smart Face Recognition technology automatically adjusts the camera's focus and exposure for up to 20 faces, and it can even recognise the most photographed faces in your photos and focus on them. Smart Face Recognition also lets you quickly search for specific people in your photo album without having to browse through every single photo.

Samsung have also added a range of "fun" effects via the special Children scene mode, aimed at attracting children's attention so that they look towards the camera, although there's only a handful of them, so they may get bored if over-used. A new and very welcome addition is the ability to preview video as well as still images, something that was mysteriously lacking from the previous DualView generation.

Samsung PL150 Samsung PL150
Front Rear

Looking down on the PL150's top plate we find 5 controls. Starting at the left when viewed from the rear, there are holes for the microphone, the F.LCD button which as the name suggests turns the front LCD of and off, and a Power button that's a little too small and recessed for easy operation. Encircling the tactile shutter button is a rocker switch for operating the zoom. Controlled by a protruding lip that falls naturally under the forefinger, the zoom takes around three seconds to travel from maximum wide angle to full telephoto - which is about par for the course for its focal range. We did find that its transitions are sound-tracked by a low mechanical blur, but said sound is low enough to avoid being off-putting.

Once you've zoomed in and got your composition how you want, with a half press of the shutter button the Samsung PL150 is commendably swift to determine focus and exposure, the AF point highlighted in green and an operational 'beep' confirming you're good to go on and take the shot. With little noticeable shutter lag, at highest resolution setting an image is committed to memory in just under two seconds, the screen blanking out briefly, which isn't bad at all.

The rear of the PL150 is dominated by the large 3-inch LCD screen, which in the absence of an optical viewfinder is the only way of composing your images, with a vertical strip of controls running from top to bottom at its right. LCD visibility is adequate indoors and out, though you inevitably find yourself cupping a hand or angling the camera for a better view with the latter.

To the right of the LCD, and 'sunk' slightly into the bodywork, is a familiar bottle top style dial for the shooting modes. This feels firm to the touch and well implemented, in that the user can't accidentally slip from one setting to the other. Ranged around the dial are the expected Auto and Program settings, plus Samsung's own 'Smart Auto' mode. As it sounds, this is the manufacturer's equivalent of the intelligent auto modes on competitors from Panasonic (its Lumix range), Sony (the latest T-series Cyber-shots) and Canon (Digital IXUS family). Namely you point the PL150 at a scene or subject that hopefully the camera recognizes, automatically adjusting its settings to deliver optimum results. This means that it's not necessary for the user to manually delve into scene modes to call up the likes of 'landscape' or 'flower'; the PL150's operation is merely a case of point and shoot.

Incidentally, as you turn the shooting dial, a virtual version which the same eight settings rotates in tandem on screen, highlighting and explaining each one as you select it. Also found on the dial are a 'Dual IS' mode - which offers both optical image stabilization and the ISO boosting digital variety. In terms of light sensitivity the Samsung PL150 offers a very respectable range, stretching from ISO 80 up to ISO 3200.

Samsung PL150 Samsung PL150
Front Secondary LCD Screen

Continuing around the dial we discover Samsung's 'beauty shot' mode, useful for both acne-d adolescents and those of us who have over indulged by automatically retouching out spots and blemishes. Spotlighting the PL150's intended audience as the family, Samsung clearly wants its users to have to spend as little time post-processing images as possible - if any. Adjacent to beauty mode is a dedicated scene mode. When selected this mode automatically displays its settings as a horizontal row of icons. Along with 'Night', 'Portait', 'Children' and 'Landscape' we get 'text', 'sunset', 'dawn' and 'backlight', with 12 choices in total.

The adjacent setting on the dial is for video mode. Here users get the opportunity to either shoot High Definition video clips in the economical H.264 format at top 720p resolution, a less memory hungry 640x480 pixels, or 320x240 pixels; choice dependant on intended use (whether playing back on an HDTV or merely posting on the Internet). Maximum frame rate at 1280x720 resolution is 30fps, with a reduced 15fps rate also selectable with a press of the button marked 'Fn' (or 'Function') on the camera back. Should users however plump for the very lowest picture quality, a higher frame rate of 60fps is selectable. Video can be paused mid-record and recording then re-started with a press of the OK button, allowing the user to perform rudimentary 'editing' as they shoot. The full extent of the 5x optical zoom is also accessible when shooting movies.

The Menu button provides a range of selectable options, the brevity or otherwise of which is dependant on the particular mode the user is in. Let's assume, for example, we're shooting in program mode. With menu selected an icon illustrated top bar provides drop down access to fine tuning the recording options. These include the ability to tweak operational sounds, LCD display, plus access to a setting menu, enabling memory to formatted or previously selected functions reset.

Directly underneath the Menu button is a four-way directional control pad with an OK button at its centre. This will be familiar to just about anyone who has ever used a digital compact before. Ranged around the four points are options for toggling the Display modes to show a nine zone compositional grid, all shooting information or just the very basics (i.e simply the number of shots remaining), self-timer modes, macro and focus modes, and the various flash settings.

Below the control pad is a self-explanatory Playback button and the useful Function button, which handily doubles up as a delete button in playback mode. As expected the amount of information and options accessed via a press of 'Fn' varies dependant on which shooting mode is selected. For example in regular auto mode the user merely has the ability to adjust image size and resolution. Twist the dial around the program mode however and there's the ability to swap focus area, metering modes, change from single shot to continuous capture, choose from the range of ISO settings, adjust white balance or turn the ubiquitous face detection mode on or off. Like its rivals, Samsung also allows user access to blink detection and smile shot in this mode.

Samsung PL150 Samsung PL150
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

There are no controls on the left hand side of the PL150 (if viewing from the rear). On the right is a very small camera strap eyelet on the right side, located below an included mini-HDMI port for hooking the camera up to an HDTV. Increasingly common for DSLRs that also shoot movies, it's still a comparative rarity to find such on a digital compact, even if it does shoot HD video. The required HDMI cable is an optional extra though, so bear in mind if you're on a budget.

Alongside the HDMI connection is a proprietary connector for Samsung's power and sync cable - the WB600 is recharged with the battery in-camera, either from an electrical socket or or alternatively straight from a USB port connected to your computer, rather than via an external recharger, which means that annoyingly you can't use the camera with a second battery whilst charging the first. Note that there is no port for USB and AV out. Also in the box is a quick-start guide as a hard copy, the full manual on CD ROM, plus a wrist strap.

On the bottom of the PL150 is a plastic centrally-positioned screw thread for attaching a tripod and alongside that a sliding lockable cover for protecting the compartment that jointly houses the removable SD Micro media plus the provided battery. Battery life is good for approximately 200 shots from a full charge, but that's only if you don't use the secondary LCD screen, which then reduces it to less than 150 shots - you'll definitely need a second battery for day-trips.

Equally annoying is the tiny SD Micro format, which makes sense in Samsung's extensive range of mobile phones, but not in a larger camera. It's much too easy to lose in a pocket or bag, requires investment in yet another format, doesn't offer as much capacity or speed as SD / SDHC, and also needs the supplied adapter to be used in most external memory card readers. There's also 55Mb of built-in storage, enough for a dozen photos.

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 12 megapixel SuperFine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 5.5Mb.

The Samsung PL150 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 PL150 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.


There are 7 ISO settings available on the Samsung PL150. 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 PL150's 5x zoom lens offers a fairly versatile focal range, as illustrated by these examples:



File Quality

The Samsung PL150 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 (4.91Mb) (100% Crop) 12M Fine (2.67Mb) (100% Crop)

12M Normal (1.81Mb) (100% Crop)



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 PL150 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)


The Samsung PL150 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


The flash settings on the Samsung PL150 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 (135mm)

Auto - Telephoto (135mm)

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 (100% Crop)

Red eye fix

Red eye fix (100% Crop)

Night Shot

The Samsung PL150'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 8 seconds at ISO 80.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Anti Shake

The Samsung PL150 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)

1/6th / 27mm
1/4th / 135mm

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Samsung PL150 camera, which were all taken using the 12 megapixel Superfine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movie & Video

This is a sample video from the Samsung PL150 camera at the highest quality setting of 1280x720 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 13 second movie is 15.4Mb in size.

Product Images

Samsung PL150

Front of the Camera

Samsung PL150

Front of the Camera / Lens Extended

Samsung PL150

Front of the Camera / Secondary LCD Screen On

Samsung PL150

Isometric View

Samsung PL150

Isometric View

Samsung PL150

Rear of the Camera

Samsung PL150

Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed

Samsung PL150

Rear of the Camera / Turned On

Samsung PL150

Rear of the Camera / Main Menu

Samsung PL150

Rear of the Camera / Function Menu


Samsung PL150

Top of the Camera

Samsung PL150

Bottom of the Camera

Samsung PL150

Side of the Camera

Samsung PL150

Side of the Camera

Samsung PL150

Front of the Camera

Samsung PL150

Front of the Camera

Samsung PL150

Battery Compartment

Samsung PL150

Memory Card Slot


The Samsung PL150 brings the clever DualView technology from last year's first generation cameras to a much wider audience thanks to its very competitive price, although image quality isn't such a strong point thanks to unwanted noise at relatively slow ISO speeds.

The combination of the clever self-portrait LCD, large 3 inch screen on the rear and multitude of hand-holding technologies makes the PL150 ideally suited for use by all members of the family. Even better, you can now use the PL150's front LCD for video as well as still images. In ideal shooting conditions the PL150 impresses with its vivid, colour-rich imagery, with the caveat that this can veer towards looking slightly unrealistic on occasion. In low-light things aren't quite so rosy, with noise appearing at ISO 200 and becoming progressively worse as you move up the range, making this a camera best suited to sunny days.

The best thing about the Samsung PL150 is its price. Offering an improved version of the unique DualView technology in a camera that officially retails for £179.99 / $229.99 compares very well to last year's £299.99 / $349.99 ST550 camera, and also to the vast number of other compacts at this price-point. Even ignoring the secondary screen, the PL150 is still a well-appointed and stylish camera, making it worthy of our Highly Recommended award.

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4.5
Features 4.5
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image quality 3.5
Value for money 4.5

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Samsung PL150 from around the web. »

What's going on with the Samsung PL150's lens? We're used to seeing some drop-off in sharpness at full zoom, but this is much more serious and undermines the value of the whole camera. That's a shame, because the PL150's twin displays, high-class styling and user-friendly features are otherwise rather good.
Read the full review »


Usage note
(1) Remarks: HDMI function is available when connected through Type D HDMI Cable (optional).
(2) Smart Auto Movie: Landscape, BlueSky, NaturalGreen, Sunset
Front LCD (hot Key): Self Portrait, Children mode
(3) Front LCD (hot Key): Self Portrait, Children mode, Couple shot, Off
Smart AutoPortrait, Night Portrait, Backlight Portrait, Macro Portrait, Night, Backlight, Landscape, White, NaturalGreen, BlueSky, Sunset, Macro, Macro Text, Macro Colour, Tripod, Action, Fireworks
Smart Movie: Landscape, BlueSky, NaturalGreen, Sunset
Scene: Frame Guide, Portrait, Landscape, Close up Text, Sunset, Dawn, Back Light, Fireworks, Beach & Snow
(4) Front LCD will be turned on when selecting Self timer
Quick View will be displayed until inputting any key.

Image sensor Type 1/2.33" (appox 7.79mm) CCD
Effective Pixel Approx. 12.4 Mega-pixel
Total Pixel Approx. 12.7 Mega-pixel
Lens Focal Length Samsung Lens f = 4.9 ~ 24.5mm (35mm film equivalent: 27 ~ 135mm)
F No. F3.5 (W) ~ F5.9 (T)
Digital Zoom Still Image mode: 1.0x ~ 5.0x Play mode: 1.0x ~ 12.5x (depends on image size)
Focusing Type TTL auto focus (Multi AF, Centre AF, Face Detection AF, Object Tracking AF, Smart Face Recognition AF)
Range Normal: 80cm ~ infinity, 1m ~ Infinity (Tele) Macro: 5cm ~ 80cm (Wide), 1m ~ 1.5m (Tele) Auto Macro: 5cm ~ Infinity (Wide), 1m ~ Infinity (Tele)
Exposure Compensation ±2EV (1/3EV steps)
Control Program AE
ISO Equivalent Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
Metering Multi, Spot, Centre Weighted, Face Detection AE
Flash Modes Auto, Auto & Red-eye reduction, Fill-in flash, Slow sync, Flash off, Red eye fix
Recharging Time Approx. 4sec.
Range Wide: 0.2m ~ 3.4m, Tele: 0.5m ~ 2.0m, (ISO AUTO)
Storage Media Still Image: JPEG (DCF), EXIF 2.21, DPOF 1.1, PictBridge 1.0 Movie Clip: Videos H.264 (MPEG4.AVC) / Audio: AAC Audio: WAV
File format 12M: 4000 x 3000 pixels, 8M: 3264 x 2448 pixels, 5M: 2560 x 1920 pixels, 3M: 2048 x 1536 pixels 1M: 1024 x 768 pixels, 9M W: 3840 x 2160 pixels, 2MW: 1920 x 1080 pixels, 10M P: 3984 x 2656 pixels
Image Size 12M: Super Fine 147, Fine 284, Normal 403 10MP: Super Fine 167, Fine 313, Normal 441 9MW: Super Fine 202, Fine 367, Normal 528 8M: Super Fine 211, Fine 374, Normal 537 5M: Super Fine 339, Fine 566, Normal 792 3M: Super Fine 532, Fine 802, Normal 1065 2MW: Super Fine 870, Fine1144, Normal 1437 1M: Super Fine 1471, Fine 1670, Normal 1872
Interface Audio Microphone: Mono Internal Speaker: Mono
Digital output connector USB 2.0
Video Out AV: NTSC, PAL (user selectable) SCC-AV20 HDMI 1.4: NTSC, PAL (user selectable) (1)
DC power input 4.2V 20Pin
Physical Specification Dimensions (WxHxD) 99.2 x 59 x 19.9
Weight 136.6g (without battery and card)
Operating Temperature 0 ~ 40 °C
Operationg Humidity 5 ~ 85%
Display Type TFT LCD
Feature Main Display: 3" (7.6cm) QVGA (230K) Front Display: 1.5" (3.8cm) 61K TFT LCD
Movie Clip Recording With Audio or without Audio (Zoom Mute) (Max Recording time: 20min) Size: 1280 x 720 (30 / 15fps) High Quality, 1280 x 720 (30 / 15fps) Standard Quality, 640 x 480 (30 / 15fps), 320 x 240 (60 / 30 / 15fps) Zoom: Optical 5x (2)
Effect Colour Style: Normal, Soft, Vivid, Forest, Retro, Cool, Calm, Classic, Negative, Custom Smart Filter: Miniature, Vignetting, Fish Eye1
Edit Pause during recording, Still Image Capture, Time Trimming
Still Image Shooting Mode: Smart Auto, Auto, Program, Dual IS, Beauty, Night, Scene, Movie (menu -smart detection: Smart Movie), Front LCD (Hot Key) (3)
Effect Photo Style Selector: Normal, Soft, Vivid, Forest, Retro, Cool, Calm, Classic, Negative, Custom RGB, DeFog, Sketch Effect Smart Filter: Miniature, Vignetting, Fish Eye1, Fish Eye2 Image Adjust: Sharpness, Contrast, Saturation
Edit Self-timer: 2sec., 10sec., Double (10sec., 2sec.), Jump shot (4)
Special Feature   • 3" Main Display (230K), 1.5" Front Display (61K) • Dual Image Stabilisation: Optical IS + Digital IS • Front Display Key: Self Portrait (Stil & Movie), Children Mode (Stil & Movie), Couple shot (Still) (User can change the flash file of children mode by downloading new file from Samsung Website) • Self Timer (Front LCD On: 2sec., 10sec., Double (10sec., 2sec.), Jump shot • Smart Face Recognition (Register 8 people manually and 20 people automatically / My Star: 8 people who are registered manually ) - Face recognition AF, Face List, My Star (Register manually), Smart Album (Face) • Smart Auto, Smart Movie • Smart Album (Smart Album Category: Type, Date, Colour, Week, Face) • Perfect Portrait System (Face Detection, Smile shot, Blink Detection, Smart Face Recognition, Beauty shot, Self Portrait- Front LCD) • Beauty Shot (1, 2, 3 Steps) • Object Tracking AF • High Definition Movie Recording: - 720p Resolution @30fps / H.264 Movie File • HDMI CEC • Multi Slide Show
System Requirement in general For Windows Intel Pentium 4, 3.2GHz or later / AMD Athelon 64FX, 2.6GHz or later Minimum 512MB RAM (1GB)Windows XP / VISTA / 7 250MB (Over 1GB recommended) CD-ROM Drive USB 2.0 Microsoft 9.0c or later Over 1024 x 768 pixels, 16bit colour monitor or later (1280 x 1024 pixels, 32bit colour recommended) Over 64MB video card (nVIDIA Geforce 7600GT or later / ATI x1600 series or later)
For Macintosh Not support

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