The rise of Facebook, MySpace et al has meant that more people than ever are taking self-portraits – and the Samsung ST550 is possibly the ideal compact digital camera for capturing that self-shot pout. Equipped with a second screen on its front side, it lets you see yourself while you’re shooting, er, yourself. But is this a mere gimmick to make a pretty standard snapper look sexier? Read our full Samsung ST550 review and we’ll tell you.
At first glance, the Samsung ST550 looks like a reasonably normal (if decidedly stylish) compact digital camera, a glossy black and red snapper with a lean profile – the perfect size to take with you on a night out.
But fire it up and you’ll find it has two unusual screens: a 3.5-inch 800 x 480 touch sensitive and haptics-equipped display at the back; and a small 1.5-inch display on the front. The latter disappears when not in use, so as not to spoil the Samsung ST550’s looks.
The point of the front screen is to facilitate decent self portraits. Rather than facing the lens towards you and hoping for the best, you can now frame your gurning mug properly, ensuring that your profile pic looks suitably moody/brooding/sexy (delete as applicable). Narcissists will love it.
Read our Casio EX-G1 review
The rear screen’s resolution makes it brilliantly clear, and the fact that it’s a touchscreen means that the Samsung ST550 isn’t covered in buttons – almost everything is controlled by the tapping the LCD. Happily its layout, responsiveness and the feedback from haptics make it easy enough to use. Occasionally you’ll wish you could quickly twist a dial instead of poking the display, but this isn’t pitched at the serious photographer market – it’s a point-and-shoot.
The shutter and 4.6x optical zoom are controlled by physical buttons, with the latter being a tiny rocker that is, well, just a wee bit too tiny for our tastes. It makes zooming too fiddly.
Performance? Well, the Samsung ST550 delivers decent 12.2-megapixel snaps, but nothing out of the ordinary – colours are a little muted but detail and sharpness are good. As you’d expect from a camera so geared towards portraiture, the ST550 comes with some nifty face recognition tech that stores and recognises up to twenty of your friends’ fizzogs, as well as automatic retouching to make portraits more flattering.
Add in HD video and it’s a nice enough all-round package for anyone looking for a “nights out” camera. It doesn’t offer the best in performance or features, but delivers what it sets out to do.