The Samsung PL210 is a high-zoom digital compact camera, released in January 2011. The camera is available in silver, black and pink with an RRP of £179.99 but can be found on the internet for around £148.00.
Samsung PL210: Features
The headlining feature on the PL210 is the 10x optical zoom lens, which as a 35mm equivalent of 27 - 270mm, packed into a slim body, making it easy to take pictures of both landscapes and landmarks. To ensure pictures are sharp, the camera has Dual Image Stabilisation - both optical and digital.
Smart Auto 2.0 automatically adjusts the camera to make picture and video taking as easy as possible. To help take more creative pictures there is a range of Smart Filters, these include Miniature, Soft Focus and Palette Effect, among many more. Smart Face Recognition automatically focuses and exposes on 20 faces that have been designated on the camera.
The PL210 can shoot 720p HD videos at 30fps, the 10x zoom can even be used during video recording.
10x optical zoom 27mm wide angle lens
14.2 megapixel sensor
3.0 inch TFT LCD screen
720p HD movie recording
Dual Image Stabilisation
Smart Auto 2.0
Smart Face Recognition
ISO80 - 3200
Samsung PL210: Handling
The PL210 is a well built, smart looking camera and is considerably thin, given the 10x optical zoom lens. Holding the camera is easy and the buttons are easy to press. As well as the typical buttons you'd expect to find on a compact camera, there are dedicated buttons to switch between the modes and an Fn button, which takes you straight to the menu where you can change the settings available when setting up your shot. The menus are easy to navigate and understand.
On the rear is a 3.0 inch LCD screen, which is bright and clear to view in all lighting conditions, thanks to the Intelligent LCD brightness automatically adjusting the brightness.
Using continuous shooting the camera takes full size images at 0.8fps. Using Motion Capture the camera shoots at around 6.4fps, although picture size is limited to 640 x 480 pixels. AEB mode takes three images at different exposures, these images can be combined, in Photoshop for example, to create HDR images.
Samsung PL210: Performance
The PL210 takes well exposed images with really good colour reproduction. When the lens is at its widest detail is better in the centre of the images and become slightly blurry in the corners. In the picture below there is some purple fringing in the trees. At its longest, again, detail is better towards the centre of the images but not as blurry in the corners. Focusing at 5cm from the subject, the camera is capable of taking excellent macro shots.
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/5.4, 22mm (35mm equiv: 130mm)
ISO100, 1/4, f/5.4, 22mm (35mm equiv: 130mm)
ISO200, 1/8, f/5.4, 22mm (35mm equiv: 130mm)
ISO400, 1/15, f/5.4, 22mm (35mm equiv: 130mm)
ISO800, 1/30, f/5.4, 22mm (35mm equiv: 130mm)
ISO1600, 1/60, f/5.4, 22mm (35mm equiv: 130mm)
ISO3200, 1/90, f/5.4, 22mm (35mm equiv: 130mm)
Below are example images using the three metering modes: Multi, Spot and Centre Weighted.
Using the Beauty Shot mode, the PL210 takes excellent portrait pictures with pleasing skin tones and makes an excellent job of reducing blemishes on the skin. Landscapes also look good, with the camera giving a boost to the greens and blues in images.
Landscape with building, ISO80, 1/125, f/9.2, 4.85mm (35mm equiv: 27mm)
During testing the PL210'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.
Auto White Balance - Incandescent Lighting, ISO100, 1/15, f/4, 6mm (35mm equiv: 42mm)
The PL210 has a range of Smart Filters available including: Miniature, Vignetting, Half Tone Dot, Sketch, Fish-eye, Defog, Classic, Retro and Negative. Be aware, some of the filters don't record at the full 14.2 megapixel resolution.
The PL210 shoots 720p HD videos at 30fps & 15fps with a maximum files size of 4Gb. Standard quality options are 640 x 480 and 320 x 240 (both at 30fps & 15fps). Optical zoom can be used during recording.
Value For Money
The Samsung PL210 is available for around £150.00. If you are looking for a 10x optical zoom camera there are plenty of options dependent on your budget. The Pentax Optio RZ10 costs £93.99, Olympus VR-310 costs £107.99 and Fuji FinePix T200 cost £124.99, all with 14 megapixel sensors and are cheaper than the PL210.
If you have a bigger budget to spend, the Sony Cyber-shot H70 also has a 10x optical zoom lens, 16.1 megapixel sensor and costs £178.99. The Canon Digital IXUS 1000 HS is a premium compact with 10x optical zoom lens, 10 megapixel sensor and costs £256.99.
The PL210 is capable of taking colourful pictures and is well priced considering the amount of optical zoom available. With the cameras ability to take excellent macro and portrait pictures as well as its range of Smart Filters, there is plenty for the compact user to get their teeth into. The camera is let down by noise in images at higher ISO ranges and less detail in the corners of images, but overall, the Samsung PL210 is a fine digital compact camera.
Samsung PL210: Pros
Excellent colour reproduction
Excellent macro images
10x zoom lens in a small camera
Smart Filters give plenty of creative options
Pleasant portrait images
Samsung PL210: Cons
Images blurred towards the edges
Lots of noise at the higher end of ISO range