Samsung ST93 Review
Despite the apparent end, or at least slowing down, of the megapixel war, there are still some manufacturers who are producing cameras that have little difference to their predecessors except for higher resolution. On the surface, the Samsung ST93 looks like it fits into this category. It's a digital compact camera with a 16 megapixel sensor, 5x optical zoom, 2.7 inch screen and multiple digital effects to make photography more fun. There's not a great deal of difference between this and other ST9x models, but we've put it to the test to see if the new image sensor is as good as Samsung say it is. The Samsung ST93 retails in the UK for around £89.99.
Ease of Use
The ST93 is part of Samsung's Style range so it's a tiny, slick unit with an oversized lens bezel and small lens at the centre. The curved edges fan round to the rear of the camera to reveal a modest 2.7 inch LCD screen taking over the left side of the body and a select few command buttons on the right. There are buttons to access the main menu, modes, flash macro and self-timer functions as well as a playback button and function menu. The function menu brings up a translucent quick menu with most used features available for adjustment such as resolution, ISO, white-balance and digital effects. We're also pleased to see metering and focusing options are available.
Powering on the ST93 is done by pressing the power button located on top of the camera next to the shutter release button. What really took us by surprise was how fast it is. Start up times are impressive and we managed to switch the camera on, focus and take a picture in under 2 seconds. The rear control layout is the standard four buttons around a navigation pad which is a tried and tested design. There's a small point just above the buttons to rest your thumb when you're not pressing buttons.
What first stands out about the build of the Samsung ST93 is that it appears to have even more of a lean than the previous versions when sat on a flat surface. This lean is particularly useful for self portraits because the camera looks up slightly, however, it gives it a look like it'll fall over at any moment. Should this happen or if it's dropped, the camera doesn't feel like it will cope with too much of a bashing. The casing is coated in that paint that feels rough to the touch and makes plastic feel like metal. It means we're unsure of the materials that the casing is made of. Tapping the case, it sounds plastic but even at this price, cameras are normally metal these days.
There are some nice touches to the build such as a lock on the battery door which also covers where the MicroSD card goes. Samsung have opted for this miniscule card format for two reasons: it allows smaller camera bodies and it's compliant with other Samsung products such as their mobile phones.
The 2.7 inch screen is a reasonable quality, it's bright enough and clear. We managed to see a picture on the back even in direct sunlight. There's no motion blur but we felt that the image stabiliser was delaying the picture to smooth it out. One thing you don't see everyday on a small digital compact camera like this is a decent cover for the USB port. Usually, they're either covered by a flimsy rubber lid or not even covered at all. The ST93 has a nice, plastic flip out lid that protects much better and is easier to use than its rubber counterparts.
There are a couple of menus on the Samsung ST93. The function menu is likely to see the most use and is laid out in an easy to use array. The options are listed down the left side with the sub-options spreading out over the screen to the right. The menu is translucent so an image can still be seen behind. This is especially useful when selecting the white-balance because it will show you how the white-balance is affecting the picture before you select it. The same can be said about the digital filters because - frankly - they don't suit every situation.
The main menu is more in-depth and really only needs to be used to set major functions of the camera such as language, time & date, power functions and other rarely used features. There are 4 separate tabs to use in the main menu and the shooting menu is simply a replica of the function menu.
Pressing the mode button will allow you to change the shooting set up of the ST93 to cope with particular situations that you may find yourself in. For example, there's a panorama mode if you're faced with something wider than what the lens can see, such as the Grand Canyon. There's also a number of scene modes (10 in total) that will set the camera up to give the optimal image for that scene such as landscape, night, portraits (called beauty because it smooths skin and generally improves the picture), text, beach & snow and backlight.
Should you want to take more control over the camera, you need to put it in program mode but if you're the type that simply wants to switch the camera on and take pictures then you should put it in smart auto. This mode will analyse the scene and set the scene mode automatically for you depending on what it sees. For instance if it notices you're getting close to a subject it will put it in macro mode. If it sees a person, it will put it in portrait mode and switch on face detection.
|Memory Card Slot
As we mentioned before, the ST93's start up time is great. However, the shutter lag certainly pours water over any fire we had going. We got consistent readings of 0.13 seconds, when we expect in this day and age to get around 0.08 seconds as is typical on a digital compact camera. Focusing isn't too bad and we didn't notice too much hunting unless it was struggling with a subject that was too close for it.
In the box there's the minimal amount of accessories provided. There's the camera obviously and you also get a lithium ion battery. It doesn't come with a memory card but the ST93 has a small internal memory. The charge cable doubles up as the USB cable and plugs into a mains adapter to charge from there. The useful part is that you can also charge from the USB port of a computer making it an ideal camera for travellers who need a cheap camera to take on holiday or on gap years. That way pictures can be uploaded to email or social network sites in an internet cafe while the camera charges which minimises the bulk needed to take away. Hard copies of paperwork include a warranty booklet and a thin quick start guide. On the enclosed CD is a full manual and Intelli-Studio software as well as Adobe Reader.
All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 16 megapixel SuperFine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 6Mb.
We had to double take at the noise results at ISO 80 because the pictures we got were so bright and clean with excellent edge definition, so much so that we nearly missed the minor amounts of discolouration in the black parts of the picture. Now, we're talking full magnification so at normal viewing size, it's unlikely you can see it unless you're really looking for it. We certainly couldn't. ISO 100 is only a third of a stop up the scale so we didn't expect to see a difference in the results and we were right.
Again at full magnification, we notice a slight amount of sharpening begin to take place in darker areas at ISO 200. Mid tones and highlights aren't affected at this stage and they're not really at ISO 400 either although in less dark areas it can be seen to be creeping in. Edge definition starts to fade at this setting although it's fighting bravely.
At ISO 800, it's as though the noise reduction software is giving up. Purple and green colouring has taken over low key areas, edges are starting to blur and green blobs are appearing in lighter areas.
It has to be noted that at these higher settings, we've seen much worse results. The Samsung ST93 is performing very well for a camera at this price point and aimed at the entry-level market. There's a final ISO 3200 setting which is crawling with noise all over it and the whole picture has taken a cast to it.
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)
The Samsung ST93 has 3 different image quality settings available, with High 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.
|16M High (6.56Mb) (100% Crop)
|16M Medium (3.74Mb) (100% Crop)
|16M Low (2.54Mb) (100% Crop)
We actually like how sharp the pictures come out of the Samsung ST93 but we did find that they benefit from a little sharpening in a photo editing suite such as Adobe Photoshop.
Original (100% Crop)
Sharpened (100% Crop)
We're pleased with how the Samsung ST93 handles lens distortions such as chromatic aberration. It's caused by the lens not being able to focus all colours on the sensor and it shows as a coloured line along high contrast edges. Lens flare can be mistaken sometimes for chroma so it's worth checking carefully. We struggled to find an instance of it though.
Example 1 (100% Crop)
The lens quality really shows through in the macro tests and with the Samsung ST93 it's a real mixed bag. Centre sharpness is excellent. We consistently got sharp pictures from the camera. The ST93 allowed us to bring the memory card close and while we know that close focusing doesn't mean it's a macro picture, it's more satisfying to see the memory card close up to the lens. Edge definition drops off towards the edges of the frame and lens flare also gets worse.
On its own, the Samsung ST93's lens doesn't have any trouble with vignetting but this becomes an issue when the flash is turned on - especially at full telephoto.
Forced Off - Wide Angle (26mm)
Forced On - Wide Angle (26mm)
Forced Off - Telephoto (130mm)
Forced On - Telephoto (130mm)
Here are a couple of portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Auto setting or the Red Eye Fix option caused any amount of red-eye.
|Auto (100% Crop)
Red eye fix
Red eye fix (100% Crop)
To get a decently exposed shot we had to put the Samsung ST93 into the night scene mode to take advantage of the longer shutter speed. The ST93 only has a long exposure of 1 second in program mode. Flicking it in to night shot, the exposure time extended to 8 seconds making it much easier to shoot a night photograph. The pictures are lovely and sharp as long as a tripod or support is used.
Night Shot (100% Crop)
This is a selection of sample images from the Samsung ST93 camera, which were all taken using the 16 megapixel High JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.
Sample Movie & Video
Front of the Camera
Front of the Camera / Lens Extended
Rear of the Camera
Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed
Rear of the Camera / Turned On
Rear of the Camera / Function Menu
Rear of the Camera / Mode Menu
Rear of the Camera / Main Menu
Rear of the Camera / Main Menu
Top of the Camera
Side of the Camera
Side of the Camera
Front of the Camera
Memory Card Slot
Considering the competitive price of the Samsung ST93 and the type of consumer that it's aimed at, the image quality is surprisingly good. We got some lovely pictures from it despite the terrible UK winter weather we had while the test was underway. Colours are rendered realistically without too much saturation and we like the fun effects that the camera has such as miniature mode and vintage camera effect. While these aren't new and certainly don't rock the boat, they're good enough to have a bit of fun with on a day out.
If we were to be critical – and we have to be so that manufacturers will further improve their products- we don't like the Samsung ST93's slant which is supposed to make self portraits easier to do. It's subjective and one mans trash is another man's treasure. The ST93 shows excellent bravado in fighting noise, but it's a good job because the sensor suffers from it right from the start. We also found that every time we opened the battery door, the battery popped out despite having a locking clasp.
The Samsung ST93 takes MicroSD which is the same format as Samsung mobile phones accept, so if you have one, you can chop and change. It's a good idea from that respect and also ensures that the cameras can be smaller, although its all too easy to lose the tiny card.
We were pretty presumptuous about the ST93. We expected a badly made, badly performing camera that was another £100 model churned out for the masses. What we have instead is a reasonably well made little digital compact camera with a bright screen, sharp pictures and some good software built into it. If you're looking for a small, pocketable digital compact camera with high resolution, reasonable build quality and fun features then you should definitely take a look at the Samsung ST93.
|Ratings (out of 5)
|Value for money
Reviews of the Samsung ST93 from around the web.
Samsung’s style conscious ST series of compacts gets an addition, the 16.1-megapixel ST93, a smart and slim line snapper that has a host auto features that make snapping fun and easier. Doug Harman finds out if it lives up the billing in this it’s full What Digital Camera test.
Read the full review »
The ST93 has a 16.1 megapixel and a 5x optical zoom lens, which is a 35mm equivalent of 26 - 130mm. Dual Image Stabilization helps prevent shake from ruining your shots with a combination of Optical and Digital Image Stabilization. The camera also has an ISO range up to 3200. Smart Auto 2.0 automatically adjusts the camera settings to capture the best shot possible with minimal input from the user.
Read the full review »
It was always going to be tough fitting 16 megapixels in a body this size for less than £100, and sadly the Samsung ST93's results fall short of what we would like to see in a modern digital camera. If you're looking for a cheap and cheerful snapper, this will do the job, but if quality is your primary concern then look to spend a little more.
Read the full review »
|4.7 - 23.5mm (Equivalent to 26 - 130 mm in 35 mm format)
|F3.3(W) - F5.9(T)
|Still Image Mode: 1 - 5x, Play Mode: 1 - 9.3x (Depends on Image Size)
|Dual IS (OIS + DIS)
|230000 Pixels (QVGA)
|TTL auto focus
|Normal : 80cm - infinity (wide), 150cm - imfinity (Tele) / Macro: 5cm - 80cm (Wide). 100cm - 150cm (Tele) / Auto Macro: 5cm - infinity (Wide), 100cm - infinity (Tele)
Smart Auto 1/8 - 1/2000 sec / Program 1 - 1/2000 sec / Night 8 - 1/2000 sec
|Multi / Spot / Center Weighted / Face Detection AE
|± 2 EV (1/3 EV Step)
|Auto / 100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1600 / 3200
|Smart Flash / Auto / Auto & Red-Eye Reduction / Fill-in Flash / Slow sync / Flash off / Red-eye Fix / Flash EVC
|Wide 0.2m -3.4m / Tele 1 m - 1.9m (ISO AUTO)
|Approx 4 sec
|Auto WB / Day Light / Cludy / Fluorescent_H / Fluorescent_L / Tungsten / Custom
|Smart Auto / Program / Scene / Dual IS / 3D Photo / Panorama (3D / Live / Action) / Movie
Single image / Thumbnails / Advanced Slide show / Movie Clip / Smart Album
Date&Time / Date / Off (User Selectable)
|5x Optical Zoom (Max Recording 20min) / User Can select to record sound or not (Sound Alive On_Off / Mute), 1920 x 1080 (30fps), 1280 x 720 (30fps), Standard Quality 640 x 380 (30fps), High Speed Movie 240 x 176 (440fps), 400 x 304 (250fps)
|Pallettte Effect 1-3 / Miniature / Vignetting / Half Tond Dot / Sketch / Fish Eye / Classic / Retro
|Creative Movie Maker / Pause During Recording and Playing / Still Image Capture / Time Trimming
|16MB internalt may not match these specifications
|JPEG, DCF, EXIF 2.21, DPOF 1.1, PictBridge 1.0
|14M : 4320 x 3240 / 12MP : 4320 x 2880 / 10M : 3648 x 2736 / 10MW : 4320 x 24325M : 2592 x 1944 / 3M : 1984 x 1488 / 2MW : 1920 x 1080 / 1M : 1024 x 768 / Panorama : Size changable
|Digital Output Connector
|USB 2.0 (Hi-Speed)
|Microphone: SteroInternal Speaker: Mono
|AV: NTSC / PAL/ (User Selectable), HDMI
|DC Power Input
|Rechargeable Battery: BP-70A (3.7V, 740mAh, Min 700mAh) / Charger : SAC-48 (AC Adapter) / Connector Type : Micro USB
|90 x 55 x 18.7mm
|0 - 40 ?
|5 - 85 %
S/W and PC OS
|Bundle PC S/W
|Built-in PC S/W
|Windows XP SP2 / Vista / 7 / Mac OS 10.4 or higher
System Requirement in General
|Power Mac G3 or later / Minimum 256MB RAM / 110MB of available hard-disk space USB port CD-ROM drive
|PC with processor Intel Core 2 Duo 1.66GHz or Higher / AMD Athlon™ X2 Dual-Core 2.2 or higher / Minimum 512MB RAM (Over 1GB recommended) / 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 color display compatible monitor (1280 x 1024, 32-bit color display recommended) Microsoft DirectX 9.0c or later