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Samsung ST90 Digital Compact Camera Review

Daniel Bell reviews the Samsung ST90, a compact digital camera with a 14.2 megapixel sensor and a 5x optical zoom lens.

|  Samsung ST90 in Compact Cameras
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NB. Due to similarities in performance, some of the review is the same as the Samsung ST95 review.
Samsung ST90 front lens

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 front

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.

Samsung ST90 top

Key Features:

  • 2.7inch intelligent LCD screen
  • 14.2 Megapixel sensor
  • 5x optical zoom 26mm wide-angle lens
  • Slim design
  • Smart Auto 2.0
  • Smart Filter
  • HD Movie recording
  • Magic Frames
  • Smart Face Recognition
  • Object Highlight
  • Digital Image Stabilisation
  • Sound Alive
  • ISO80 - 3200
Samsung ST90 rear

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 battery and memory card

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.

Samsung ST90 wide-angle   Samsung ST90 full optical zoom
Wide-angle, ISO80, 1/350, f/3.3, 4.7mm (35mm equiv: 26mm)   Full optical zoom, ISO80, 1/350, f/5.9, 23.5mm (35mm equiv: 130mm)
Samsung ST90 digital zoom   Samsung ST90 macro
Digital zoom, ISO80, 1/350, f/5.9, 23.5mm (35mm equiv: 130mm)   Macro, ISO100, 1/60, f/3.3, 4.7mm (35mm equiv: 26mm)

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.

Samsung ST90 ISO80 Samsung ST90 ISO100 Samsung ST90 ISO200 Samsung ST90 ISO400
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)
Samsung ST90 ISO800 Samsung ST90 ISO1600 Samsung ST90 ISO3200  
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.

Samsung ST90 portrait   Samsung ST90 landscape
Portrait, ISO100, 1/60, f/4.4, 15mm (35mm equiv: 82mm)   Landscape, ISO80, 1/1000, f/3.3, 4.7mm (35mm equiv: 26mm)
Samsung ST90 object highlight   Samsung ST90 AEB images merged into HDR
Object highlight, ISO400, 1/30, f/3.3, 4.7mm (35mm equiv: 26mm)   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.

Samsung ST90 Auto White Balance - Incandescent Lighting   Samsung ST90 Preset Incandescent WB - Incandescent Light
Auto White Balance - Incandescent Lighting, ISO100, 1/10, f/4.2, 8mm (35mm equiv: 42mm)   Preset Incandescent WB - Incandescent Light, ISO100, 1/10, f/4.2, 8mm (35mm equiv: 42mm)
Samsung ST90 Auto White Balance - Fluorescent Light   Samsung ST90 Fluorescent White Balance - Fluorescent Light
Auto White Balance - Fluorescent Light, ISO100, 1/4, f/4.2, 8mm (35mm equiv: 42mm)   Fluorescent White Balance - Fluorescent Light, ISO100, 1/4, f/4.2, 8mm (35mm equiv: 42mm)

Smart Filters

Below are sample images taken using the various Smart Filters available on the ST90.

Samsung ST90 Original Smart Filter   Samsung ST90 Vignetting Smart Filter   Samsung ST90 Half Tone Dot Smart Filter
Original, ISO80, 1/8, f/4.7, 9mm (35mm equiv: 50mm)   Vignetting, ISO80, 1/8, f/4.7, 9mm (35mm equiv: 50mm)   Half Tone Dot, ISO80, 1/8, f/4.7, 9mm (35mm equiv: 50mm)
Samsung ST90 Sketch Smart Filter   Samsung ST90 fish-eye Smart Filter   Samsung ST90 defog Smart Filter
Sketch, ISO80, 1/8, f/4.7, 9mm (35mm equiv: 50mm)   Fish-eye, ISO80, 1/8, f/4.7, 9mm (35mm equiv: 50mm)   Defog, ISO80, 1/8, f/4.7, 9mm (35mm equiv: 50mm)
Samsung ST90 classic Smart Filter   Samsung ST90 Retro Smart Filter   Samsung ST90 Negative Smart Filter
Classic, ISO80, 1/8, f/4.7, 9mm (35mm equiv: 50mm)   Retro, ISO80, 1/8, f/4.7, 9mm (35mm equiv: 50mm)   Negative, ISO80, 1/8, f/4.7, 9mm (35mm equiv: 50mm)

Video Mode

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.

Value For Money

The Samsung ST90 is currently available for around £110.00. The ST95, with more megapixels and a touch screen is priced at around £128.00. There are plenty of cameras to consider with a similar price and features such as the: Canon PowerShot A3200 IS at £104.99, Fujifilm FinePix Z90 at £98.99, Nikon Coolpix S3100 at £99.94, Sony Cybershot W520 at £93.99, Pentax Optio S1 at £99.99 and Olympus VG-130 at £82.99.

Samsung ST90: Verdict

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

OVERALL Samsung ST90

Samsung ST90: Specification

Price £109.99
Optical zoom 5x optical zoom f = 4.7 - 23.5mm (35mm film equiv: 26 - 130mm), f/3.3 - 5.9
Resolution 14.2 megapixels
Sensor size 1/2.3in
Sensor type CCD
Max image size 4320 x 3240
Aspect ratio 4:3
Focusing system TTL auto focus
Focus points Multi AF, Center AF, Face Detection AF, Object Tracking AF, Smart Face Recognition AF
Focus distance 5cm
File types JPEG
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 8 - 1/2000 sec
Image stabilisation Digital Image Stabilisation
Movie mode Recording time: 20min Size: 1280 x 720 (30/15fps), 640 x 480 (30/15fps), 320 x 240 (30/15 fps) Zoom: Optical 5x
Monitor 2.7in TFT LCD
Media type Micro SD/SDHC Card
Interface USB 2.0
Power Rechargeable battery: BP70A (740mAh, Min.700mAh)
Box Contents Wrist strap
Lithium Ion battery
Quick Start Manual
Software CD
AC Adapter/USB Cable
Size 91.8 x 53.9 x 16.5mm
Weight 105.0g (not including memory card and battery)

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Photographs taken using the Samsung ST90

AttractionWintery weather in the Yorkshire DalesThe DawnWaiting for Dawn

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