NB. Due to similarities in performance, some of the review is the same as the Samsung ST95 review.
The Samsung ST90 was released in January 2011 and is very similar to the Samsung ST95 which we reviewed in May 2011, with the ST90 being a simpler and cheaper version. The ST90 lacks the 3 inch touchscreen that featured on the ST95 and has a lower resolution sensor, at 14.2 megapixels as opposed to the ST95's 16.1 megapixel sensor. The ST90 is available in black, red, blue, silver and pink for around £110.
Samsung ST90: Features
The ST95 has a 5x optical zoom lens (35mm equivalent: 26 - 130mm), 14.2 megapixel sensor and 720p HD movies all packed into a 17mm deep compact camera. The camera has Smart Filter Lens and colour options which can be applied to both images and videos. The filters available for images are: Miniature, Vignetting, Half Tone Dot, Sketch, Fish-eye, Defog, Classic, Retro and Negative.
Smart Auto mode will decide on the best settings for your pictures, but if you would prefer to have your own influence there are a selection of scene modes: Landscape, Sunset, Dawn, Backlight, Beach & Snow and Text. Using Smart Face Recognition the camera can recognise and focus on up to 20 faces that have been designated on the camera so they can stand out in your shots. For shooting portraits there is a Beauty Shot mode where you can change the amount of Face Tone and Retouch. Other features include Night mode, Close Up and Object Highlight.
2.7inch intelligent LCD screen
14.2 Megapixel sensor
5x optical zoom 26mm wide-angle lens
Smart Auto 2.0
HD Movie recording
Smart Face Recognition
Digital Image Stabilisation
ISO80 - 3200
Samsung ST90: Handling
The buttons are well placed, easy to press and fairly typical for a digital compact camera. There is a Fn button which takes you to a menu where you can change the images settings dependant on which mode you are using. There is also a dedicated button which takes you straight back to Smart Auto mode.
The ST90 is extremely small, at just 16.5mm thick, fits perfectly into your pocket and the optical zoom lens doesn't extend far from the camera. The screen is of good size and easy to view in bright conditions. Samsung have kept the menu system uncomplicated, with plenty of information available when deciding which settings to change.
When switching to continuous shooting the camera is capable of around 0.8fps at full size and in motion capture mode it can shoot at around 6.5fps, although the image size is reduced.
Samsung ST90: Performance
Detail is better in the centre of the images with a hint of blur around the images when viewing them at full size. In the bright sky on the wide shot there is some slight lens flare and purple fringing. The camera is capable of good close-up macro pictures thanks to a minimum focus distance of 5cm in macro mode.
There is a touch of noise at ISO80, this barely worsens though at ISO100, and again to ISO200. Noise does start to kick in at ISO400 and is much worse at ISO800. Images produced at ISO1600 and ISO3200 have plenty of noise and are best suited for small sized use. Throughout the ISO range, colour reproduction remains very good.
ISO80, 1/4, f/5.1, 20mm (35mm equiv: 104mm)
ISO100, 1/4, f/5.1, 20mm (35mm equiv: 104mm)
ISO200, 1/8, f/5.1, 20mm (35mm equiv: 104mm)
ISO400, 1/15, f/5.1, 20mm (35mm equiv: 104mm)
ISO800, 1/30, f/5.1, 20mm (35mm equiv: 104mm)
ISO1600, 1/60, f/5.1, 20mm (35mm equiv: 104mm)
ISO3200, 1/125, f/5.1, 20mm (35mm equiv: 104mm)
Below are some sample images taken using the ST90. Using the camera's Beauty Shot mode, portrait shots are easy to take with pleasing skin tones. In Landscape mode the camera takes images with excellent blues and greens. The fourth image was created by taking shots using the cameras AEB mode, which took images at -0.5, ±0 and +1 exposure compensation and then merged using Adobe Photoshop CS5.
Three AEB images merged in Photoshop to create HDR, ±0, -0.5, +0.5, ISO80, 1/1000, 1/180, 1/750, f/3.3, f/9.4, f/3.3, 4.7mm (35mm equiv: 26mm)
During testing the ST90'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, 1/10, f/4.2, 8mm (35mm equiv: 42mm)
The ST95 shoots videos at 720p HD, 640 x 480 and 320 x 240 all at either 30/15 fps and allow the use of the 5x optical zoom, an example of which can be seen on the ePHOTOzine Youtube page. For added creativity, videos can be shot with the addition of the following smart filters: Palette Effect 1, 2, 3 & 4, Miniature, Vignetting, Fish-eye, Defog, Classic, Retro and Negative.
Recently we have reviewed many compact cameras from Samsung, all offering a very similar level of performance, all with identical lenses. The main feature of the ST90 is that it is very small and at £109.99 it delivers a very pleasing performance, with good colour reproduction. The main problem is that there are many cameras available at this price level, and it will depend on which features appeal to you the most. The Smart Filters on offer here are good and they are also available for use on videos as well.
Samsung ST90: Pros
Excellent colour reproduction
Filters available on images and videos
Camera is very compact and looks good
Optical zoom available on videos
AEB rare on compact / budget cameras
Samsung ST90: Cons
Some purple fringing and chromatic aberration at times
Requires a Micro SD card