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Camera touch screens are all the go in 2010 as I seem to recall Samsung got in early — and elegantly — with their ST550 camera.
Now the company has also poured some pretty impressive comms tricks as well into the ST1000 with GPS and Geo-tagging capabilities, WiFi and Bluetooth.
First the camera…
The ST1000 captures 12.2 million effective pixel pictures via a Schneider-Kreuznach 5x optical zoom lens, viewed on a backlit 8.9cm LCD touch screen.
I have a small problem with some black cameras and this one is an example of my difficulty: it’s all over black, with just four buttons: power, shutter, zoom and replay. All OK and easily found but the descriptive text is etched in tiny grey letters, hard to see even in bright light.
The brilliant LCD touch screen to the rescue: a row of buttons appears on each side and bottom of the screen: AF and focus options, ISO, exposure compensation etc plus the main menu. Press one and you see the options for each. It takes you five minutes to get used to the approach but after that you’re happily at home. I liked it.
In replay you can run an auto slide show; at any point touch the screen and the image pauses. Wipe your fingers (iPod-like) and the image zooms up. Want to crop it? Tap your finger. Apply a special, effect? Same action.
In some ways the camera is a no-brainer: set to Smart Auto, point it to a landscape, portrait or 14 other scenes and it will adjust the settings to maximise exposure and focus. Its Smart Face recognition mode learns up to 20 of your friends and family and auto focuses on them first.
Using an optical image stabiliser you can enjoy steady shooting, but then Samsung goes further and claims it has dual stabilisation, which I can only presume is a digital helper by means of shutter speed juggling.
Another nice touch: the recycle bin stores deleted shots in a temp folder — just in case you discover you really needed that shot later!
And the show stopper: you can set up the ST1000 to fire a self-timed shot of yourself just by standing at a distance and waving your arm at the camera.
(insert Samsung ST1000 ISO 80 f4.2 1/20 sec)
At ISO 80, f4.2 and 1/20 second the parameters are as they should be.
(insert Samsung ST1000 ISO 400 f4.2 1/90 sec)
At ISO 400, f4.2 and 1/90 second, still OK.
(insert Samsung ST1000 ISO 800 f4.2 1/750 sec)
Reaching ISO 800 f4.2 1/750 second, noise is now apparent and sharpness is down.
(insert Samsung ST1000 ISO 3200 f4.2 1/750 sec)
At ISO 3200 f4.2 and 1/750 second we are far beyond a useable shot — noise and other problems make it impossible.
The ST1000 can capture a maximum still image size of 4000×3000 pixels, so you can make a 34x25cm print.
In movie mode expect to shoot a maximum 1280×720 pixels in MPEG4 at 15 or 30 fps.
I first tried GPS: sat the camera down on a table outside and within 10 seconds it found the satellites; this was confirmed by a finder signal. I then took a shot which had the GPS data embedded in its metadata as well as the name of the location on screen.
Moving onto WiFI: in Samsung’s showroom in Western Sydney it took a little while for the camera to hook into the network, a move around the room avoided the black spots and once found, I was able to email my picture back to my own email address. This was interesting as the camera obviously must have some file size limitations for WiFI transmission: the ST1000 reduced the original file size of 5 MB and 4000×3000 pixels to 590KB and 1600×1200 pixels.
Using WiFi you can upload pictures to Facebook, Flickr, or Picasa very quickly or share it on YouTube.
Bluetooth: placing the camera about 30cm from a mobile phone it took about 10 seconds to establish a link. Sending the image file took about two seconds.
With TV sets that use the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) technology you can display your images on the home TV.
Having said all of this the system does not allow transmission of video or voice files. Sorry, news cameramen!
This is a significant camera system and will perfectly suit the global traveler, real estate agents and those who want to geo-tag their pictures and get them back to base quickly.
Picture quality is about average for a digicam. Don’t expect Vogue magazine cover quality.
Why you would buy it: compact size; enjoyable touch screen; GPS, Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity; decent stills capture along with watchable video.
Why you wouldn’t: you don’t like a complex digicam and you wouldn’t get any benefit from the ST1000’s wireless ability.
Some final cautions: the camera will not talk to an iPhone with Bluetooth.
I suggest, if you’re not 110 per cent up on the various wireless protocols and you crave an ST1000, buy it through a dealer who can hold your hand when setting up the links.