Samsung PL90 Review

December 1, 2010 | Gavin Stoker |

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 4.5Mb.

With bright clear skies the Samsung PL90 delivers warm and colouful images, especially so if shifting from normal to vivid setting courtesy of the camera's Photo Style Selector mode. That said, even with plenty of light around we did experience occasional instances of camera shake and also noticed some loss of sharpness towards the edges of the frame and pixel fringing between areas of high contrast. OK, so the above is not really a big surprise seeing as we are dealing with a point and shoot compact, and any aberrations can also to an extent be forgiven because of the modest price point. At maximum 28mm equivalent wide angle setting the PL90 displays barrel distortion, though not to such an extent that the effect becomes ruinous.

In terms of low light shooting, with a steady surface we were able to get decent results up to and including ISO 800. As would be the case with any snapshot camera in this price bracket, approach ISO 1600 and/or ISO 3200 settings at your peril, where loss of detail and the encroachment of image noise really don't make the options worthwhile, specially at maximum ISO 3200 setting where images, with smudged detail and grain across the picture, take on a painterly rather than photographic aspect. Plus one has to contend with the resolution dropping to three megapixels at the top setting.

So not a completely clean bill of health when it comes to the Samsung PL90's images, but we preferred them to the likes of the Pentax Optio M900 and Olympus FE series cameras at this £130 price, if in the final analysis for us they can't quite compete with the similarly point and shoot Nikon S5100, costing nearly £50 more.


There are 7 ISO settings available on the Samsung PL90. 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)



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 PL90 handled chromatic aberrations fairly well during the review, with some purple fringing present around the edges of objects in high-contrast situations, as shown in the examples below.

Example 1 (100% Crop)

Example 2 (100% Crop)


The Samsung PL90 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 PL90 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 (28mm)

Auto - Wide Angle (28mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (112mm)

Auto - Telephoto (112mm)

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 PL90's maximum shutter speed is 2 seconds in the Night scene mode, which isn't very good news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 1/8th second at ISO 800. I've included a 100% crop of the image to show what the quality is like.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)