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Samsung ST50 says it with pictures ... and words

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Samsung ST50 says it with pictures ... and words
Though billed as a point-and-shoot device, the Samsung ST50 digital camera has an abundance of features and functions that you need to master to truly tap into its potential. 4/16/2009 8:00:00 AM By: Joaquim P. Menezes Using "feature-rich" as a descriptor for the Samsung ST50 digital camera seems almost like an understatement. It will take you a long time to familiarize yourself with everything this slim form-factor device can do. A few of its features you're hardly ever likely to use, such as AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing) – which allows you to take pictures in a series with three different exposures: standard, short and over exposure. At the other end of the scale are a bunch of functions so simple, even beginners can use them, but that can significantly improve picture quality. Here I'd include the "Smart mode" feature, which we discuss later in this review. Sound and substance Somewhere in between are features that aren't core to the picture-taking experience but add value to your projects, if you use them well. I'd include the ST50's "voice memo" capability here. It allows you to add a 10-second sound byte over a stored still image. With the stored picture on the LCD screen, you go to File Options and Voice Memo and turn the function on. When the voice memo indicator is displayed on the LCD, the setting is completed. To start the voice recording, press the shutter down, and to stop it press the shutter again.

Seems almost too simplistic – yet in projects involving hundreds of pictures, attaching a voice memo may be a good way to record and recall details about an image you would otherwise forget. See related story: Digital photography tips and tricks from an expert What's in the box The Samsung ST50 digital camera comes along with a rechargeable battery, the AC adapter/USB cable, an AV cable, a camera strap, and a CD containing the user manual and Samsung Master software, that allows you to use the browser, viewer, image and video editor functions. The ST50's slim design (16.6 mm form factor) is a strong point, and one that Samsung promotes – with the tag line "Style slimmed to perfection" printed on the box cover. I did find this a useful feature, as it allows the camera to be easily carried around, in a shirt pocket, for instance. This stainless steel camera comes in four colours – black, red, silver and blue. The SD/SDHC memory card has to be purchased separately, which I found disappointing. At a price point of $249.99 (at BestBuy.ca), surely a memory card could be thrown in. The battery and memory card chambers are flush against one another at the bottom of the camera and are accessed by opening a single cover. That's how Samsung has managed to economize on space. Navigating the features While billed as a "point-and-shoot" device, the ST50 has several complex features, and mastering them all -- flash modes, self-timer options, face detection, quality and frame rate, focus area, metering and much, much more can take a long time. But those willing to expend the time and trouble will significantly enhance the quality, variety and richness of their pictures. Even with something as basic as the flash – the ST50 has a whole lot of more options than your typical digital camera. For instance, you can choose from "Auto Flash" (which fires automatically if the subject or background is dark) to "Auto and Red Eye Reduction" to "Fill in Flash" (where the flash fires regardless of available light – but its intensity is automatically controlled to suit prevailing conditions). Another interesting option is "Slow synchro" which when selected lets the flash operate with a slow shutter speed to offer a more balanced exposure.

In poor lighting conditions, the camera shake warning indicator will display on the LCD monitor, and you may want to use a tripod. To understand what functions are active at any given time it's useful to turn the camera's display on by pressing the Display tab on the "5-function button." When you do that a bunch of useful information appears on the LCD screen. For instance, an icon to the corner left of your screen tells you whether you are in picture or video recording mode, so you can shift the mode selection switch, if needed, to the right option. Other information includes: number of shots available -- so you don't miss those vital pictures, how much battery power is left, and which flash option has been selected.


				
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