Samsung’s recently launched ST600 is a dual screen camera and an upgrade of last year’s ST5500. The camera offers many improvements in terms of features and specs, but we have to ask if these updates make the camera perform better or not.

Features and specs

The Samsung ST600 has the same ½.33-inch sensor as the older Samsung ST550, but packs more pixels (14.2 vs. 12.2 mega pixels). It also has a slightly longer 5x (27mm to 135 mm) optical zoom lens than the 4.6x zoom on the older ST500.

The lens aperture size is F3.5 at wide angle while it is F5.9 at tele which is normal for a compact camera. Samsung has also upgraded the ST600’s 3.5-inch WVGA LCD touchscreen with a higher resolution, and the front display has also been upped to a 1.8-inch TFT LCD with 116k resolution.

The ST600 comes with all the smart features that Samsung has for its compact line of cameras. It has seven shooting modes: Smart Auto, Auto, Smart Movie, Program, Dual IS and Scene modes. The Smart Auto mode takes a photo by detecting a scene and choosing an appropriate scene mode, a mode that’s helpful for first time users. The Smart Movie mode also determines the scene automatically prior to recording video.

There is no shutter speed and aperture size changing option in the program mode, which is a bit disappointing considering the price tag. The usual Beauty Shot mode is included among the 13 scene modes to choose from. Face Detection (up to 10 faces), face register (up to 6 faces), smile detection and blink detection are also present. Samsung also featured Smart Filters (miniature, vignette, fish-eye 1, fish-eye 2, sketch and defog) to make photos more interesting or unique.

The camera also lets you adjust saturation, contrast and sharpness in the camera, plus there is an ACB (Auto Contrast Balance) feature to correct the exposure for high contrast subjects and backgrounds.

Focussing modes include auto, macro, one touch shooting, centre AF, Multi AF (up to 9 points) and smart touch AF. There are three metering modes - center, multi and spot. Drive mode includes continuous, motion capture (6 VGA photos per second) and AEB (takes 3 consecutive photos with different exposures). ISO speed option starts from ISO80 to ISO3200.

So, there are various shooting modes and features despite the lack of usual P, A, S, M modes which we expected to see from a camera in this price range. The front LCD offers many useful features for shooting portraits and it was a fun and useful feature.

Playback mode offers in-camera photo editing that allows you to apply different smart filter effects to the photos. The Smart Album feature also is nifty and categorises photos by month or date to make indexing easier.

The largest image that can be recorded is 4320x3240, and there are three image quality options: super fine, fine and normal. The Samsung ST600 records 720p HD video at 30fps with mono audio. Optical zoom is available during video recording but audio is disabled during zooming. The camera has internal memory of 30MB, and supports microSD for external storage.

Design and usability

The Samsung ST600 employs a touchscreen which is the main control centre for the camera. Due to its touchscreen controls, the camera has a minimal number of buttons which are arranged at the top. These include the front LCD activate button, power, shutter release button with zoom ring around it and a playback/review button at the edge.

The buttons are easy to reach, and the top also sports a mono speaker and mono microphone grille. The front 1.8-inch display can also be activated by tapping it and the front also has a flash located above this display. The back just has the big touchscreen and on the right there are ports for charger/data cable and a mini HDMI to connect the camera to an HDTV.

A lanyard loop hole is also located just below these ports which are covered by a flap.

The camera size is compact enough to fit into a normal pants pocket and it weighs roughly around 155g (with battery and memory card), which is portable enough to carry around. The ST600 has a glossy black plastic body which, like the touchscreen, is highly attracted to fingerprints and smudges. One more problem we also found with the touchscreen was that at times it did not register our touch input and slowed us down.

The touchscreen display offers a smart gesture interface and the interface design enabled us to reach most of the controls and settings in a few steps and if it was not for the unresponsive touchscreen, we would not have much complaints about the interface design. The lack of manual buttons sure slowed down the operation while changing shooting modes and settings like ISO but the design interface was quite smart.

The screen has good visibility outdoors and the front facing display made shooting self portraits fun and easy. We found its features like Jump Mode, Couples Mode and Kids Mode interesting and smart to use.