By Josh Fate
Timing Test Results
Samsung PL90 is an ultra-compact point-n-shoot model with great image quality. Although its startup and shot-to-shot times are slow, this is an excellent camera for the price.|
Pick This Up If...
|You are looking for an affordable, easy-to-use and ultra-compact camera with great image quality for under $150.|
This ultra-compact is very thin and easily slips into a pocket or purse. While it is incredibly compact, it can be a little difficult to hold and operate with just one hand, but using the "pinch" technique makes operation simple. The controls and menus are very simple to follow and the buttons have a very responsive feel. Framing and viewing your images is accomplished with the 2.7-inch, 230,000 dot LCD screen. It has several brightness levels, including an auto feature that allows you to see the screen with ease in most lighting conditions.
The PL90's outdoor image samples show that it produces an overall high-quality 12-Megapixel image. With very good color and exposure, you will be pleased with the photos captured. The only negatives that we noticed were some chromatic aberrations in high contrast areas and some edge softness, mostly around the bottom right of the images. Assisting you with your image compositions is a 4x optical zoom lens with a 35mm equivalent of 28-112mm. This wide lens is great for landscape and group portrait shots, while the zoom end is great for getting a little closer to your subject and aiding in composition.
Again with our indoor samples, we can see that the PL90's photos are tack sharp except for the bottom right, where the image get a little soft (like we mentioned above). These images also make it easier to see the excellent color reproduction that the camera provides. When cycling through the cameras sensitivity settings, the PL90 captures nice images up through ISO 400, after that the image noise quickly increases, reducing the quality and detail of the photo. Assisting with your indoor and low-light images, Samsung has built-in a small flash unit with a descent range. While we do not have an exact flash range, staying within approx. 10ft. of your subjects will produce a good image without too much noise.
While shooting our portrait sample, the camera quickly detected and followed any faces within the frame as long as the subject(s) were facing the camera. Our sample shows a clear, well exposed face with realistic skin tones and no redness in the eyes.
Although the PL90 has a movie mode, Samsung has not included HD video capabilities on this camera. It does capture video at resolutions of 640x480 and 320x240 at 15 or 30 frames per second. Helping you to follow and add a little creativity to your movies is the ability to use the entire 4x optical zoom while you are recording. This is a feature that you still don't find on many digicams. A built-in mono microphone captures the sound for these movies, which is very sensitive and will pick up any sounds that are close to the camera. Our sample movie shows a clear video with smooth playback and excellent color, especially in the difficult lighting conditions of the pool.
Powering the PL90 is a 3.7V, 740mAh rechargeable Li-Ion battery. We were able to capture over 125 images and videos while completing our tests without having to worry about running out of power. This is a good battery life, but since you have to charge the battery in the camera, it can be difficult to keep a second battery charged and on hand. Instead of a portable charger, Samsung includes an A/C adapter for the USB arm to allow you to charge it anywhere. It can also be plugged into any powered USB port for charging as well.
Bottom Line - Samsung's PL90 is an affordable ultra-compact model with some great features to match it's great image quality. It sports a 12-Megapixel imaging sensor, 4x optical zoom lens, Smart Auto shooting mode and a USB arm which allows you to charge and download your images anywhere. It's performance is a little disappointing, which is the only thing holding this camera back. With a MSRP of US $149.99, this is a great camera for anyone that would like to have a camera on hand just in case a situation would arise.
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