NB. Due to similarities in performance, some of the review is the same as the Samsung PL170 review.
The slim and stylish Samsung ST6500 was announced in January 2011. With a curved design it is available in black and silver from £157.00.
Samsung ST6500: Features
The ST6500 has a 16.1 megapixel sensor and 26mm wide-angle lens, with 5x optical zoom, a 35mm equivalent of 130mm, ideal for times spent with friends and family or shooting landscapes and landmarks.
Taking images is made easy by the Smart Auto 2.0 mode which decides on the ideal settings for the camera when taking pictures or recording movies. There is also Dual Image Stabilisation - optical and digital, helping to take sharp pictures in varying conditions. Taking pictures of friends and family is helped by Smart Face Recognition, which remembers 20 faces and automatically focuses on them ensuring they stand out.
To aid creativity there are a range of Magic Filters (including Wall Art, Retro Film, Ripple, Full Moon, Old Record, Magazine, Holiday, Classic TV and more) and Smart Filters (such as miniature, fish-eye, vignetting).
HD videos can be shot at 720p HD and also utilises the Smart Filter mode: Miniature, Vignetting, Half Tone Dot, Sketch, Fish Eye, Defog, Classic, Retro, Negative. The camera can then be connected via a HDMI cable to any HDTV.
16.1 Megapixel sensor
5x optical zoom 26mm wide-angle lens
Smart Touch 3.0in LCD screen
Dual Image Stabilisation
HDMI Cable port
Smart Auto for images and movies
Smart Filter 2.0
Perfect Portrait System
Smart Face Recognition
Smart Filter with Creative Special Effects
HD Movie recording
ISO80 - 3200
Samsung ST6500: Handling
The ST6500's has a couple of subtle yet unique design features. The shutter button is slightly angled and the zoom rocket is a sliding button on the back of the camera. The camera doesn't have many other buttons as it has a 3.0in wide touch screen filling the majority of the rear. It feels easy to hold and is not heavy.
The touch screen does take a bit of getting used to be is responsive and the menus are easy to navigate with the few buttons well placed on the camera although it is strange to not have the zoom rocker around the shutter button.
Samsung ST6500: 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.
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 and use on the web.
ISO80, 1/6, f/5.1, 20mm (35mm equiv: 111mm)
ISO100, 1/8, f/5.1, 20mm (35mm equiv: 111mm)
ISO200, 1/15, f/5.1, 20mm (35mm equiv: 111mm)
ISO400, 1/30, f/5.1, 20mm (35mm equiv: 111mm)
ISO800, 1/60, f/5.1, 20mm (35mm equiv: 111mm)
ISO1600, 1/90, f/5.1, 20mm (35mm equiv: 111mm)
ISO3200, 1/180, f/5.1, 20mm (35mm equiv: 111mm)
The ST6500 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 camera's 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.
During testing the ST6500'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/3.8, 7mm (35mm equiv: 39mm)
The ST6500 shoots videos at 720p HD, 640 x 480 and 320 x 240 all at either 30/15 fps and allows the use of the 5x optical zoom. For added creativity videos can be shot with the addition of some filters, such as miniature effect.
Value For Money
The Samsung ST6500 can be purchased for £155.19. 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 ST6500: Verdict
The ST6500 is a really well designed camera that takes colourful images which will look great when shared on the web. Video users will enjoy the creativity modes which aren't normally available for both images and videos. The camera is a touch expensive at around £155 and you may be better looking at the cheaper Canon Powershot A3300 IS or indeed the Samsung ST95.