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Samsung PL90 Digital Camera Review

Samsung PL90 Digital Camera Review - Daniel Bell takes a look at the 12.2Mp Samsung PL90 which also has 4x optical zoom lens.

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Category : Compact Cameras
Product : Samsung PL90
Price : £99
Rating :
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Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Samsung PL90: Click on the thumbnail for the larger image.
Samsung PL90 front

The Samsung PL90 was announced in August 2010 and the main feature is its built in USB connector which means there are no extra cables needed in order to view your pictures and videos as well as charge the battery. There is also a 4x optical zoom, 12.2Mp sensor and Smart Auto technology, helping the user to capture a good image in any conditions. The Samsung PL90 is available from £99. You may also be considering the Canon PowerShot A3100 IS which is also priced at £99 with a 4x optical zoom and 12.1Mp sensor.

Samsung PL90: Features
  • 4x wide optical zoom, 28-112mm (35mm equiv.) lens
  • Digital Image Stabilisation
  • 12.2 Megapixel sensor
  • Smart Auto (still & movie)
  • Perfect portrait system
  • 2.7in TFT LCD screen
  • Object tracking AF
  • 13 scene modes
  • Movie recording with sound
  • Battery charging via USB cable
  • 8 - 1/2000 second shutter speed (dependent on mode)
  • ISO80 - 3200
Samsung PL90: Click on the thumbnail for the larger image.
Samsung PL90 USB connector   Samsung PL90 back
The built-in USB connector proves handy for those occasions where the cables are not to hand.   The rear is largely filled by the 2.7in TFT LCD screen.
Samsung PL90 top   Samsung PL90 front lens
The Samsung PL90 is just 17.9mm deep.   The 4x optical zoom lens doesn't extend out very far.

Samsung PL90: Handling
As is typical of the latest Samsung cameras, the PL90 is a stylish looking compact which you would certainly be proud to carry around with you and is light-weight, meaning it fits perfectly into your hands. Navigating around the menus is easy and certainly not the kind of menu system that would trouble a beginner.

The buttons are fairly typical for a compact camera, such as mode, menu, playback and a D-Pad with a central OK button. As an extra though is the function button which gives easy access to the settings that can be changed on the particular mode in use. Also, located on the top is the smart button. Press this button and you are straight back to the Smart Auto mode and the camera will decide on the best settings for your next picture.

The built-in USB connector is also a superb idea, meaning the camera can be plugged into any computer with a USB port to allow battery charging and downloading of images. Also supplied is a small lead so the camera doesn't have to be sticking straight out the computer. It is wise to use this connector carefully though as it feels like it could be easily bent of broken.

Samsung PL90: Performance
Good images at either end of the lens and the colours are represented accurately, if a touch under-exposed. At its widest the detail through the images is good. In the picture below, the trees furthest away have lost some detail though. At the full telephoto length, the 4x optical zooms does a respectable job and there is plenty of detail throughout the image.

Samsung PL90 lens performance: Click on the thumbnail for the larger image.
Samsung PL90 wide-angle   Samsung PL90 telephoto
Wide-angle    Telephoto

ISO and noise performance
Noise performance by the Samsung PL90 is good between ISO80 and ISO400 and only starts to deteriorate at ISO800, although at this speed and ISO1600 the images produced are quite acceptable. Performance at ISO3200 isn't good at all, the images are more likely to be useable as small images on the web.

Samsung PL90 ISO speed test: Click on the thumbnail for the larger image.
Samsung PL90 ISO80
Samsung PL90 ISO80 Samsung PL90 ISO100 Samsung PL90 ISO200 Samsung PL90 ISO400
ISO80 ISO100 ISO200 ISO400
Samsung PL90 ISO800 Samsung PL90 ISO1600 Samsung PL90 ISO3200  
ISO800 ISO1600 ISO3200  

White-balance
Whether using auto white-balance, or the incandescent and fluorescent presets, the white-balance performance is excellent and this is one setting that probably won't need to be change very often.

Samsung PL90 white-balance: Click on the thumbnail for the larger image.
Samsung PL90 Auto white-balance in incandescent lighting   Samsung PL90 Incandescent preset in incandescent lighting
Auto white-balance in incandescent lighting.   Incandescent preset in incandescent lighting.
Samsung PL90 Auto white-balance in fluorescent lighting   Samsung PL90 Fluorescent preset in fluorescent lighting
Auto white-balance in fluorescent lighting.   Fluorescent preset in fluorescent lighting.

Scene modes
On the Samsung PL90 are 13 scene modes to choose for appropriate situations. The modes available are beauty shot, frame guide, night, portrait, children, landscape, close up, text, sunset, dawn, backlight, fireworks, beach & snow.

Below there is an example of a picture taken in portrait mode and beauty shot mode. The beauty shot mode aims to retouch the subject's skin to make it appear smooth and blemish-free. The landscape mode worked well as the image was taken on a cloudy day, although the PL90 is quite capable of taking a good landscape shot in program mode. The text mode also did a fairly decent job.

If you are struggling to take the picture you want using program or smart auto then the scene modes will help you take the best picture possible.

Samsung PL90 scene modes: Click on the thumbnail for the larger image.
Samsung PL90 portrait mode   Samsung PL90 beauty mode
Portrait mode.   Beauty mode.
Samsung PL90 landscape mode   Samsung PL90 text mode
Landscape mode.   Text mode.

Samsung PL90: Verdict
This camera is available online from prices starting at £99 and this represents extremely good value for this Samsung compact. The images produced are certainly acceptable for a camera at this price level and the excellent white-balance and ISO performance will certainly help the novice photographer. If you are looking a for a small and stylish compact, that is easy to use and competitively priced then the Samsung PL90 is worth your consideration.

Samsung PL90: Pros
Samsung PL90Auto white-balance performance
Samsung PL90ISO performance upto ISO1600
Samsung PL90Small, stylish and lightweight
Samsung PL90Built-in USB connector

Samsung PL90: Cons
Samsung PL90USB connector could be easily broken

FEATURES Samsung PL90
HANDLING Samsung PL90
PERFORMANCE Samsung PL90
VALUE FOR MONEY Samsung PL90
OVERALL Samsung PL90

Samsung PL90: Specification
Price from £99
What comes in the box Rechargeable battery, strap user, manual, CD-ROM, quick start manual
Contact www.samsungcamera.co.uk
Lens 4x optical zoom lens, 5.0 - 20.2mm (35 mm film equiv. 28 - 112 mm), f/2.8 - f/6.3
Resolution 12.2Mp
Sensor type 1/2.3in (Approx. 7.81 mm) CCD
Max. image size 4000 x 3000
Aspect ratio 4:3
LCD monitor size 2.7in TFT LCD
Focusing system TTL auto focus
Focusing modes Multi AF, Center AF, Tracking AF, Face Detection AF
File types JPEG
ISO sensitivity ISO80 - ISO3200
Metering system Multi, Spot, Center-weighted, Face Detection AE
Metering modes Smart Auto (White, Macro Color, Portrait, Night Portrait, Backlight Portrait, Macro Portrait, Backlight, Landscape, Action, Tripod, Night, Macro, Macro Text, Blue Sky, Sunset, Natural Green), Program, DIS, Scene (Beauty Shot, Frame Guide, Night, Portrait, Children, Landscape, Close Up, Text, Sunset, Dawn, Backlight, Fireworks, Beach & Snow)
White-balance Auto WB, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent_H, Fluorescent_L, Tungsten,
Custom Set
Exposure compensation ±2EV (1/3EV steps)
Shutter speed range Smart Auto: 1/8 - 1/2,000 sec.
Program: 1 - 1/2,000 sec.
Night: 8 - 1/2,000 sec.
Fireworks: 2 sec.
Anti-shake mode Digital Image Stabilisation
Movie mode 640X480, 320X240 (frame rate: 30 FPS, 15 FPS)
Media type microSD card (up to 2 GB guaranteed)
-microSDHC card (up to 8 GB guaranteed)
Interface USB
Power Lithium-ion battery (BP70A, 740 mAh)
Size (wxdxl) 97.8 × 57 × 17.9mm
Weight (without battery) 122g

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