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Samsung released the PL170 in January 2011 adding to their range of compact cameras with screens on both the front and the rear of the camera. The camera is available in black, silver, purple and pink from around £145.
Jump Shot also utilises the front screen - select this and the display shows a count down so your subject knows the right time to perform an action, such as a jump! Even if the subject slightly mistimes their action, the camera takes three consecutive shots.
The lens is 5x optical zoom which is the 35mm equivalent of 26 - 130mm, ideal for wide landscape pictures and zooming in when at parties.
Picture taking is made easy by Smart Auto and Auto modes as well as Night Shot, Beauty Shot and Dual IS modes. There are a range of scene modes available: Magic Frame, Object Highlight, Landscape, Text, Sunset, Dawn, Backlight and Beach & Snow.
Other features designed to make shooting easy are Object Tracking, Smart Face Recognition and Perfect Portrait System.
For extra creativity there are several filters to choose from: Miniature, Vignetting, Soft Focus, Old Film 1, Old Film 2, Half Tone Dot, Sketch, Fish-eye, Defog, Classic, Retro and Negative. Some of these filters can even be used when shooting videos.
Videos can be shot at 720p HD at 30fps and the camera also allows the use of the 5x optical zoom during recording. HDMI out lets you connect the camera to a HD TV to view your videos and images.
- Dual LCDs with 3in rear and 1.5in front LCD
- 16 Megapixel sensor
- 5x optical zoom 26mm wide-angle lens
- Smart Filter with Creative Special Effects
- HD Movie recording
- Magic Frames
- Smart Face Recognition
- Object Highlight
- HDMI Cable port
- Perfect Portrait System
- Dual Image Stabilisation
- ISO80 - 3200
Both monitors are clear to view in all lighting conditions. The menus are well laid out and easy to navigate. The camera is ready to take pictures within a couple of seconds of switching on and is quick to focus. Without the flash the camera takes around three seconds from shot to shot, with it taking about five seconds when charging the flash. Samsung do not state the CIPA test results for the battery but during testing the battery appeared to be capable of plenty of shots between charges.
|Wide-angle, ISO80, 1/500, f/3.3, 4.7mm||Full optical zoom, ISO80, 1/350, f/5.9, 23.5mm|
At ISO80 noise is unnoticeable, but at ISO100 the images are not as sharp as at ISO80. Noise slowly gets worse through ISO200 and ISO400, but good images are still produced. At ISO800 significant amount of detail is lost, again worsening at ISO1600. There is plenty of noise at ISO3200. The pleasing aspect is that although more detail gets lost through the ISO range, colours are unaffected. Images produced at ISO1600 and ISO3200 are likely to be best suited for small prints an use on the web.
|ISO80, 1/3, f/5.9, 23.5mm||ISO100, 1/4, f/5.9, 23.5mm||ISO200, 1/8, f/5.9, 23.5mm||ISO400, 1/15, f/5.9, 23.5mm|
|ISO800, 1/30, f/5.9, 23.5mm||ISO1600, 1/60, f/5.9, 23.5mm||ISO3200, 1/125, f/5.9, 23.5mm|
The PL170 produces well exposed images with excellent colour reproductions. Despite only being able to focus up to 5cm, pleasant macro shots are possible. Thanks to the cameras Beauty Shot mode, portrait shots are easy to take with pleasing skin tones. Using the Perfect Portrait System, you can change the Face Retouch and Face Tone levels. In Landscape mode the camera takes images with excellent blues and greens.
|Macro, ISO80, 1/350, f/3.3, 4.7mm||Beauty shot, ISO200, 1/20, f/5.1, 20mm|
|Landscape, ISO80, 1/180, f/9.4, 4.7mm||Object highlight, ISO100, 1/30, f/3.3, 4.7mm|
During testing the PL170's auto white-balance performance was good and proved perfectly capable under our fluorescent and incandescent studio lights. Using the fluorescent preset under the fluorescent lights gives a slight green cast in the image, the AWB preset does a much better job.
Below are example shots taken using each of the filters.
Video ModeClips can be recorded at 1280 x 720 (30/15fps) High Quality, 1280 x 720 (30/15fps) Standard Quality, 640 x 480 (30/15fps) and 320 x 240 (30/15 fps).
Value For MoneyThe Samsung PL170 can be purchased for £145.99. The camera compares very closely to the Canon Powershot A3300 IS which scored four out of five in our recent test. The A3300 IS has a 16 megapixel sensor, 5x optical zoom and a mode dial and is available for £122.00. Other cameras to consider are the Sony Cybershot W570 at £149.00, Fujifilm FinePix AX350 at £99.99 and the Fujifilm FinePix Z900 at £199.99, all of which have around 16 megapixel sensors and 5x optical zoom.
Samsung PL170: ProsMode dial
Screens on front and rear
Excellent colour reproduction
Samsung PL170: ConsSome purple fringing and chromatic aberration at times
Images lack detail
|VALUE FOR MONEY|
|Optical zoom||5x optical zoom f = 4.7 - 23.5mm (35mm film equiv: 26 - 130mm), f/3.3 - 5.9|
|Max image size||4608 x 3456|
|Focusing system||TTL auto focus|
|Focus points||Multi AF, Centre AF, Face Detection AF, Object Tracking AF, Smart Face Recognition AF|
|ISO sensitivity||ISO80 - 3200|
|Metering system||Program AE|
|Metering types||Multi, Spot, Centre Weighted, Face Detection AE|
|Exposure compensation||± 2EV (1/3EV steps)|
|Shutter speed range||2 - 1/2000 sec|
|Image stabilisation||Dual IS (OIS + DIS)|
|Movie mode||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 (30/15 fps) Zoom: Optical 5x|
|Monitor||Rear Display: 3.0in TFT LCD (230K dots)
Front Display: 1.5in TFT LCD (61K dots)
|Media type||Micro SD/SDHC Card|
|Power||Rechargeable battery: BP70A Adaptor: SAC-48, CB20U05A Connector Type: 20pin|
|Box Contents||Wrist strap
Lithium Ion battery
|Size||95.3 x 57.3 x 19mm|
|Weight||153.3g (not including memory card and battery)|