Steve's Conclusion

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Steve's SnapShot
samsung_pl210_450.JPG

  • 14.2-Megapixel CCD image sensor 
  • 10x optical zoom lens: 35mm equivalent of 27-270mm
  • 3.0-inch, 230,000 pixel LCD screen
  • Smart Auto Mode
  • Dual Image Stabilization
  • Smart Auto 2.0
  • Face Detection
  • Smart Face Recognition
  • 720p HD video capture
  • Rechargeable Li-Ion battery
  • MicroSD card Compatible

Pros
  • Slim and Compact
  • Easy to use and carry
  • Incredibly versatile 10x optical zoom
  • Dual image stabilization for crisp images
  • Excellent features for the price
  • HD video capture
  • Good battery life
Cons
  • Slow camera performance
  • microSD cards are slower, easy to lose and not as common
  • Noise throughout ISO range
  • No AV cable included
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 2.7  seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = 4/10 to 7/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 2.52 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 5.92 seconds
  • Continuous mode = 0.95fps (6 images)
  • Sports Continuous mode = 6.25fps (VGA)
  • All tests were taken using an 512MB SanDisk micro SDHC card, Program mode, ISO auto, Flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
The Samsung PL210 is an affordable and versatile compact digicam. With a full set of features including a 10x optical zoom lens, dual image stabilization and HD video capture, you will have a hard time finding another comparable camera in this price range.
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for an incredibly versatile, compact digicam while on a strict budget.
Designed for use by beginning photographers, the Samsung PL210's  point and shoot setup is made easy by its automatic shooting modes. Smart auto 2.0 goes the extra mile and selects the correct scene mode to make sure it captures the best image or movie possible for your current shooting situation. Also featured on the camera is a versatile 10x optical zoom lens, Dual Image Stabilization, 14-megapixels of resolution, Face and Smile Detection and a 720p HD video capture mode give you a full set of features on the very affordable digicam. Samsung has chosen to go with the microSD memory card format for storing your images, which not as common, and is something to think about if you are upgrading from a camera with a SD card slot.

While the camera body is very slim, the large, 10x optical zoom lens does not completely fold into it. This adds a little more bulk to it, but the versatility of the lens is well worth it. It can be a little tricky to handle with just one hand, but the "pinch" technique using both hands allows for easy, comfortable use. The camera's external controls and settings menus are simple and well laid out, allowing you to quickly make any changes to the camera settings on the go. Framing and viewing your images is accomplished on the camera's 3.0-inch, 230,000 dot LCD screen. Images are easy to see in almost any lighting condition thanks to the adjustable brightness and auto detection mode.

Looking at our outdoor image samples from the PL210, we see an overall decent exposure and image quality. While the colors look good, the camera struggled with the overcast sky causing some overexposure. The corners of the images also appear to be rather soft. When looking at 100%, we can also see some image noise, which softens the finer details within the image, which will only be a problem if you plan on making large prints of your images. Composing your outdoor images, however, is very easy thanks to the very versatile 10x optical zoom lens. With a 35mm equivalent of 27-270mm, vast landscapes and distant objects are all within reach of the zoom lever.

Our indoor image samples faired a little better, as you can see the good color and a better exposure without the overexposure we saw outdoors. The image also looks sharper around the edges, with just a little softness around the bottom corners. Here you can still see the noise within all the images, even at ISO 80. This is common with entry-level cameras. The PL210 does well with controlling this noise up through ISO 800, producing a quality printable image. Around ISO 400, the noise starts to soften the finer details and at ISO 800, it starts to dull the colors within the image. From ISO 1600 on, the images show more noise than we would like to see, and will start to show even in smaller prints. Helping with your indoor and low-light images is the small built-in flash unit. With a range of up to about 10 ft. at ISO auto, this flash is not very powerful so you will need to stay as close as possible to your subjects when using it. It also recharges very slow, so don't expect to be able to shoot quick follow up shots when the flash is being used.

Shooting portraits is incredibly easy and a no-brainer when the camera is in Smart Auto. It has the ability to detect faces, smiles and even when your subject blinks. This allows you to always capture the best possible images of your loved ones. Our sample shows excellent skin tones with a great overall exposure for the subject. If you look closely, you can see just a hint of redness in the eyes, which wasn't a problem for us, but there is the possibility of more redness showing up.

The PL210 also has the ability to capture 720p HD videos with sound. Although it is lacking a dedicated video recording button, you can change the shooting mode fairly quickly in order to start recording. The videos show decent exposure and play back smoothly after capture. They lack a bit of fine detail, and even if you are watching them on a HDTV, you will be able to see the lack of details pretty easily. Capturing the audio for your movies is a very small, very sensitive built-in microphone. This will pick up the sounds that are closest to the camera and you will hear any background noises that are around you. In our sample, you can hear the ventilation system completely drown out the splashing in the pool.

Powering the PL210 is a 3.7V, 850mAh rechargeable Li-Ion battery with the capacity to capture up to 240 images on a single charge. This seems very possible as we were able to capture over 130 images and videos while completing our tests without the battery icon showing that the pack was close to being depleted. While 240 images is a decent battery life, if you will be out taking pictures for an entire day or more this will not last you as long as you think and you will want to have a spare battery charged and on hand. This is a little more difficult since the PL210 charges its battery while inside the camera, but the USB charging method is a bonus.

Bottom Line - Samsung's PL210 is an affordable 14-Megapixel compact digicam. Producing decent images and being a little slow on performance might deter some people, but with a MSRP of US $199.99, the set of features, versatility and quality are good for this entry-level camera. It will be hard to find another camera with this combination at this price.

Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.

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