Samsung ST6500 Review

June 2, 2011 | Matt Grayson | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


The Samsung ST6500 is an innovative 16.1 megapixel digital camera with a unique curved design and a 3 inch touch-screen LCD. Also on offer are a 5x optical zoom lens with dual image stabilisation, 720p HD video recording at 30 frames-per-second in the H.264 format, Smart Touch 3 user interface that responds to finger commands, wide range of special effects, and the intelligent Smart Auto feature which automatically adjusts the camera’s settings. The Samsung ST6500 is available in black, red or silver priced at £179.99 / $229.99.

Ease of Use

In the past, cameras have been released with unusual designs and to add to that group is the Samsung ST6500. It's main rectangular base shape is that of any other digital compact camera, but the oversized lens barrel housing and the way the casing sweeps over the top like a wave gives it a fresh touch. The shutter release button is angled slightly and not a complete circle or it would hang over the back of the camera. It looks a bit incomplete but sits flush with the silver trim that lies around the circumference of the body making it part of the design.

For such a large lens barrel, the lens is annoyingly small. We would've liked to see Samsung take advantage and fit a big piece of glass to the front with a wide aperture to make it more appealing to a wider audience even if it's just because a large lens looks like it's a more professional camera.

On the back is the 3 inch touchscreen in the letterbox shape of a cinema screen. This is so that the menu buttons can occupy either side of the monitor without causing problems to the main picture. Next to the touchscreen are a few controls such as the zoom switch which is a spring loaded slider that we really like. It's not often you see one like that and it' a welcome decision.

Below the zoom are two buttons, one for playback and the other has a home symbol next to it. This brings up 8 options to access. They are Smart Auto, Program, Scene, Smart Movie, Movie, Photo Editor, Album and Settings. So it's essentially a command dial, without the dial.

Samsung ST6500 Samsung ST6500
Front Rear

That may seem pretty sparse for what is being tagged a “smart” camera and it's not until we noticed the small iPhone style pages at the bottom that we realised there was a lot more to see. Swiping our finger across the bottom of the screen took us to the next page where there were 8 more options for Vignetting, Beauty Shot, Magic Frame, Photo Filter, Movie Filter, Night, Palette Effect and Close Up. If that wasn't enough, there's a third page with a further 7 options such as Simple Shot, Object Highlight, 3D Album, Slide Show, Voice Recorder, Magazine and Dual IS.

So lots to do then. We've only scraped the surface of the test and – like an episode of Lost – we keep opening up more questions and prolonging the end. The camera sports a 5x optical zoom which starts at an impressive 26mm but an ultra wide-angle lens means you lose out on the top end and the ST6500 gets to 130mm in 35mm terms. The focal range is modest in compact terms as cameras evolve and with a short range like this, you shouldn't have to worry too much about camera shake but just in case, Samsung have added two image stabilising modes to the camera.

Diving into the menu system, there's lots to look at. The pages don't seem to be arranged in any sort of sensible order. A good idea would be to have the first page for shooting, the second for special effects and the third for playback and menu systems but there's an album creator on the first page and a 3D album and slide show on the third page.

It gives a feeling of confusion within the menu system but here's the best bit: just like an iPhone, if you don't like the way that it's arranged, you can rearrange the icons to your own preference. Simply hold your finger on the icons for around a second then drag them to the position you want them to be in. The screen is a bright, clean display with clear icons that make it easy to navigate should you decide to leave it alone.

Samsung ST6500 Samsung ST6500
Side Front

There are some pretty cool features such as the photo editor and filters. The photo editor does what it says on the tin and allows simple editing to pictures you've already taken. After choosing the picture you want to edit, pressing the menu button will bring up some simple tasks such as contrast, saturation, face retouch and red-eye fix.

We think that the most intuitive option is the smart filter. Using this option means that if you take a picture and realise it would've looked better with a vignette, you can add it after which is a neat idea. Some features could benefit from an in-camera help system such as the palette effect mode. It applies simple colour tone changes to the video mode but that's not clear unless you download the user manual from the CD that's provided in the box .

We've tried other touch-screen cameras in the past and some of them have proved to be unreliable in terms of how sensitive the screen is. Not so with the Samsung ST6500 because although it's not as sensitive as smart phones, it's much more sensitive than a lot of cameras. We found on the whole that the menu system is intuitive although it does have its problems such as trying to scroll through the selections. Especially if you don't use the supplied touch pointer.

Samsung ST6500 Samsung ST6500
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

Start up time is great with the ST6500. The lens shoots out of the front like light speed (untested) and the image is on the screen and ready to shoot in under a second. Focusing can take around the same amount of time as a normal compact unless and we found that using macro, it sometimes found a distant item to focus on instead of the close-up subject.

With a metal exterior, the camera feels nice to hold. It has a solid feel to it including the lens barrel which doesn't have too much play in it. We never like to see plastic tripod bushes on cameras but it's to be expected on a camera at this level, so it can't be marked down because of it. We would mark the camera down on a flimsy battery door but it's actually nice, firm and even has a locking switch on it.

The battery and MicroSD card are placed in the same slot. That's right, Samsung cameras take a MicroSD card which is the ultra small memory card usually found in mobile phones. Samsung make phones, so maybe that's why they integrate similar technologies. There are adapters available and they usually come with the card. The adapters are SD sized so will fit into regular card readers and even other cameras. So apart from the unusual styling on the front, the camera looks just like a normal camera until you delve into the menu systems and find a camera more akin to smart phones with its finger swipe style layout and many interesting modes and features.

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 16.1 megapixel SuperFine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 3Mb.

Despite being the largest electronics company in the world, Samsung aren't generally the first company to think of when considering a camera. However, image quality from the ST6500 is very good. Primary colours are saturated but not to an unrealistic degree. We especially like how red is recorded. It can sometimes lose its richness but the Samsung retains the correct values. We enjoy taking pictures of the garden in the nice weather we're having and the Samsung records really nice greens. We also noticed that the sensor is sympathetic to subtle hues and difficult colours such as purple.


The inclusion of ISO80 on a digital compact camera has always confused us simply because it makes such a small amount of difference to the performance of the ISO that there's little point. ISO performance is actually very good on the ST6500. We're most pleased with the low ISO settings and we're also impressed with the mid-range settings of ISO200 & 400. Image quality starts to degrade at ISO800 but we'd still use it because the loss in quality of the picture is only really noticeable when it's zoomed into. In fact, we even think the image quality at ISO1600 is passable. Sure, there's purple and green blobs of colour all over the dark and mid-range areas but it's not completely unpleasant.

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 ST6500's 5x zoom lens offers quite a versatile focal range, as illustrated by these examples:




Even though images straight from camera are nice and sharp thanks to a decent focusing system, we noticed that adding the standard sharpening in Adobe Photoshop gives a much better result.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)


Chromatic Aberrations

We found it difficult to see chromatic aberration on the pictures we took with the ST6500. We did notice chroma on the left edge of the compact flash card and we thought it was also present on the blue flowers in the sun but it looks more like flare from the sun reflecting off the petals.

Example 1 (100% Crop)

Example 2 (100% Crop)


The macro quality of the Samsung ST6500 is around 5cm and this filled the frame with our test of a compact flash card. There's a degree of image distortion at wide-angle with the sharpness dropping off.

Macro Shot

100% Crop


Unfortunately, the built-in flash on the ST6500 isn't the best we've seen. There's a lot of light drop off at the edges when the camera is at wide-angle and the only difference we could see between the flash being on or off was that the light will be more centralised. We often tried a few shots using the fill-in flash and we think it over pumped the flash a bit too much.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (26mm)

Auto - Wide Angle (26mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (130mm)

Auto - Telephoto (130mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

There are two red-eye features in the flash modes. The first is a red-eye reduction feature that simply uses a pre-flash to reduce the size of the pupil and therefore reduce red-eye, but there's also a red-eye fix. This mode process the picture after it's taken, locating any red-eye and eliminating it in the photograph. However, we couldn't find red-eye even when both modes were turned off.


Auto (100% Crop)

Red eye fix

Red eye fix (100% Crop)


The Samsung ST6500 has a really cool night shot mode. After selecting night mode on the home menu, a small twin dial pops up at the bottom of the screen. By spinning the outer dial you can select a shutter speed from 1 second to 16 seconds. The inner dial allows you to select the aperture. There's only two options after auto for f/3.3 and f/9.4 and there's also a nice little aperture picture showing how open or closed it will be.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Samsung ST6500 camera, which were all taken using the 16.1 megapixel 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 ST6500 camera at the highest quality setting of 1280x720 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 31 second movie is 36Mb in size.

Product Images

Samsung ST6500

Front of the Camera

Samsung ST6500

Front of the Camera / Lens Extended

Samsung ST6500

Isometric View

Samsung ST6500

Isometric View

Samsung ST6500

Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed

Samsung ST6500

Rear of the Camera / Tunred On

Samsung ST6500

Rear of the Camera / Main Menu

Samsung ST6500

Rear of the Camera / Touchscreen Interface

Samsung ST6500

Rear of the Camera / Touchscreen Interface


Samsung ST6500

Top of the Camera

Samsung ST6500

Side of the Camera

Samsung ST6500

Side of the Camera

Samsung ST6500

Front of the Camera

Samsung ST6500

Front of the Camera

Samsung ST6500

Memory Card Slot

Samsung ST6500
Battery Compartment


What we have in the Samsung ST6500 is a unique looking camera with its interesting design and innovative technology. The build quality is good for a camera at this level, the touch-screen is responsive and Samsung have even included a little tap tool for precise selections. We like the idea of the zoom switch being a spring loaded slider. It's a different way of looking at things and makes the camera look more unique.

The home button is also a good idea and because of the popularity of smart phones and the way you have to swipe through pages with them, to transfer these ideas over to a camera brings it up to date and also conveys an air of familiarity that current iPhone and Smart phone users will find pleasing.

Picture performance of the Samsung ST6500 is very good. It records colours very well, noise is handled well with pleasing results and we had trouble finding chromatic aberration in everyday situations. The only detriment to image quality was the lens dropping sharpness quite drastically at the edges. Definition in the centre of the frame is excellent though and judging the market that the camera is aimed at, that's where 99% of the subjects will be.

The Samsung ST6500 will suit the beginner to photography who wants a camera simply to take pictures without the thought processes that go into it. It will also suit the iPhone generation of young photographers that like to have their picture taking tools full of interesting features. That faction of consumer will like the touch-screen, large icons and art filters to make their pictures stand out.

If you fall into any of these categories, then the ST6500 is perfectly suited to you. However, even if you don't, that's not to say that the sharp focusing, realistic colours and intuitive UI won't flatter. The intriguing design will also help to sway consumers who like cameras based on looks. Take a closer look at the Samsung ST6500 because we think you might be pleasantly surprised...

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4
Features 4.5
Ease-of-use 4
Image quality 3.5
Value for money 4.5

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Samsung ST6500 from around the web. »

The ST6500 has a 16.1 megapixel sensor and 26mm wide-angle lens, with 5x optical zoom, a 35mm equivalent of 130mm, ideal for times spent with friends and family or shooting landscapes and landmarks.
Read the full review »


Image sensor

Type 1/2.33″ (Approx. 7.76mm) CCD
Effective Pixel Approx. 16.1 Mega-pixel
Total Pixel Approx. 16.4 Mega-pixel


Focal Length Samsung Lens f = f4.7 - 23.5mm (f26 - 130m 35mm film equiv.)
F No. F3.3 (W) ~ F5.9 (T)
Digital Zoom Still Image mode : 1x ~ 5x (Optical x Digital : 25x)
Play mode : 1x ~ 14.4x (depends on image size)


Type TTL Auto Focus (Multi AF, Center AF, Face Detection AF, Smart Touch AF, One Touch Shooting AF, Object Tracking AF, Smart Face Recognition AF)
Range Normal: 80cm ~ Infinity (Wide), 1.5m ~ Infinity (Tele)
Macro: 5cm ~ 80cm (Wide), 1m ~ 1.5m (Tele)
Auto Macro: 5cm ~ Infinity (Wide), 1m ~ Infinity (Tele)


Compensation ±2EV (1/3EV steps)
Control Program AE
ISO Equivalent Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
Metering Multi, Spot, Center Weighted, Face Detection AE


Modes Auto, Auto & Red-eye reduction, Fill-in flash, Slow sync, Flash Off, Red-eye fix
Recharging Time Approx. 4 sec.
Range Wide: 0.2m ~ 3m, Tele: 1.0m ~ 1.8m (ISO AUTO)


Media • Internal memory: 10MB
• External memory: Micro SD Card (up to 2GB guaranteed), Micro SDHC (up to 8GB guaranteed)
File format • DCF, EXIF 2.21, DPOF 1.1, PictBridge 1.0
• Still Image: JPEG
• Movie Clip: MP4 (Video: H.264, Audio: AAC)
• Audio file: WAV
Image Size 16M: 4608 x 3456 14MP: 4608 x 3072,
10M: 3648 x 2736, 12MW: 4608 x 2592,
5M: 2592 x 1944, 3M: 1984 x 1488,
2MW: 1920 x 1080, 1M: 1024 x 768


Audio Microphone: Mono
Internal Speaker: Mono
Digital Output Connector USB 2.0
Video Output AV: NTSC, PAL (user selectable)
HDMI 1.4: NTSC, PAL (user selectable)
(Built-in HDMI Type D)
DC Power Input 4.2V

Physical Specification

Dimensions (WxHxD) 102.3 x 56.5 x 19.3mm
Weight 126.5g (Body Only)
Operating Temperature 0 ~ 40°C
Operating Humidity 5 ~ 85%


Type TFT LCD, Touch Panel (Resistive)
Recording 3"W (7.62cm), 230K

Shutter Speed

Shutter Speed • Smart Auto: 1/8 ~ 1/2000 sec.   • Program : 1 ~ 1/2000 sec.
• Night: 8 ~ 1/2000 sec.

White Balance

White Balance Auto WB, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent_H, Fluorescent_L, Tungsten, Custom Set

Movie Clip

Recording • Mode: Smart Movie, Movie, Vignetting, Movie Filter, Palette Effect
• Smart Movie: Landscape, Blue Sky, Natural Green, Sunset
• Size:  High Quality - 1280 x 720 (30fps, 15fps)
Standard Quality - 1280 x 720 (30fps, 15fps), 640 x 480 (30fps, 15fps), 320 x 240 (30fps, 15fps)
• Due to the noise while optical zooming, user can select to record sound or not.
(Voice recording selectable: Sound Alive On / Sound Alive Off / Mute)
• 5x Optical Zoom enable (Max Recording time: 20min)
Effect • Palette Effect: Palette Effect 1, Palette Effect 2, Palette Effect 3, Palette Effect 4
• Movie Filter (Smart Filter): Miniature, Vignetting, Half Tone Dot, Sketch, Fish Eye, Defog, Classic, Retro, Negative, (Custom RGB)
Edit Pause during Recording and Playing, Still Image Capture, Time Trimming

Still Image

Shooting • Smart Access UI : Smart Auto, Program, Scene, Simple shot, Vignetting Filter, Beauty shot, Magic Frame, Photo Filter, Night, Close-up, Object Highlight, Dual IS
• Smart Auto : Portrait, Night Portrait, Backlight Portrait, Night, Backlight, Landscape, White, Natural Green, Blue Sky, Sunset, Macro, Macro Text(with Smart Guide), Macro Color, Tripod, Action, Fireworks
• Scene : Landscape, Text, Sunset, Dawn, Backlight, Beach & Snow
• Drive : Single, Continuous, AEB, Motion Capture
• Self-timer : Off, 2sec., 10sec., Double
Effect • Photo Filter (Smart Filter): Miniature, Vignetting, Soft Focus, Old film 1, Old film 2, Half Tone Dot, Sketch, Fish Eye, Defog, Classic, Retro, Negative, (Custom RGB)
• Image Adjust : Sharpness, Contrast, Saturation (5 steps)
Edit • Image Edit : Resize, Rotate, Trimming, Smart Crop
• Smart Filter : Miniature, Vignetting, Soft Focus, Old film 1, Old film 2, Half Tone Dot, Sketch, Fish Eye, Defog, Classic, Retro, Negative, Custom RGB
• Image Adjust : Face Retouch, Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, Red Eye Fix, ACB
Special Feature ? Smart Touch 3.0
? Dual IS
? Sound Alive
? Built in HDMI Type D with Anynet+ (CEC) + 20 Pin Connector
? Smart Auto (Still / Movie)
? Smart Filter 2.0
? Perfect Portrait System

System Requirement in general

For Windows PC with processor better than PentiumIV 3.2GHz / AMD Athlon FX 2.6GHz or higher
Minimum 512MB RAM (Over 1GB recommended)
Windows XP SP2 / Vista/ 7
250MB of available hard-disk space (Over 1GB recommend)
USB port 
CD-ROM drive 
nVIDIA Geforce 7600GT or later / Ati X1600 series or later
1024 x 768 pixels, 16-bit colour display compatible monitor 
(1280 x 1024, 32-bit colour display recommended) 
Microsoft DirectX 9.0c or later
For Macintosh Power Mac G3 or later
Mac OS 10.4 or higher
Minimum 256MB RAM 
110MB of available hard-disk space 
USB port 
CD-ROM drive

System Requirement for 720P H.264 Movie

For Windows Intel® Core™2 Duo 1.66 GHz or higher / AMD Athlon™ X2 Dual-Core 1.6 GHz or higher
Windows XP service pack2 / Vista
Minimum 512MB RAM (1GB and above recommended)
64MB or greater video card
(nVIDIA Geforce 7600GT or higher / ATI X1600 series or higher reco
For Macintosh 1.8GHz Power Mac G5 or 1.83GHz Intel Core Duo or faster Macintosh computer
At least 256MB of RAM
64MB or greater video card
Image Stabilization Dual IS (OIS + DIS)
Sharpness 5 steps (Soft+, Soft, Normal, Vivid, Vivid+)
Image Play • Mode: Smart Album, 3D Album, Slide show, Magazine
• Type: Single image, Thumbnails, Slide show, Movie Clip
• Slide show: Slide show with Effect & Music
• Smart Album Category: File, Date, Face
Voice Recording Voice Recording (max. 10 hours)
Voice Memo in Still Image (max. 10 sec.)
Date Imprinting Date&Time, Date, Off (user selectable)
Power Supply • Rechargeable battery: BP70A (740mAh, Min.700mAh)
• Charger: SAC-48 (AC Adapter), CB20U05B (USB Cable)
• Connector Type: 20pin
Software Intelli-studio (Built-in)

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