The ST700 is an all round winner with its front-facing screen, creative options and clean layout, but can a few drawbacks make you second guess the value?
The ST700 follows in Samsung's vein of MultiView compact cams like the PL Series and its sister ST units. This model sits in the middle at $349, with mid-range quality and a good dose of all-rounder features like 720p video, dual screens, 5x optical zoom and plenty of creative tools. All round it's a winner, but it does suffer a few drawbacks outside of its quite average camera performance that could make you second guess the value.
The ST700 crams in 16.1 megapixels under its 26mm wide angle lens, with an aperture rang of f/3.3-5.9. Pushing the lens is 5x optical zoom, though you'll lose the sharpness in images the further you push the zoom.
One of the key features here is the dual LCD, with a front-facing 1.8 inch screen especially for taking self portraits. One of the few buttons on the unit is the front LCD button which turns the screen on and off. This button is seated at the top of the cam, next to a power button and a gallery/inventory button. The 1.8 inch screen gives enough space to line up a good shot without having to squint at yourself, but suffers a lack of brightness and colour for lighter areas.
The back-side touch screen, sitting at 3 inches, has a tendency of uselessly 'locking' when the front-facing screen is turned on, requiring users to swipe a virtual key across the screen to unlock (similar to the way many Android phones unlock). This is worsened by the lack of sensitivity on the resistive touch screen that makes this swiping motion altogether cumbersome and more hassle than it's worth.
The touch screen could be improved in quality from sensitivity to brightness for when you're using it outdoors or trying to get a good feel for how clear your pictures have come out (you'll never really know how the colour saturation is until you plug the camera into a computer), but a few handy features redeem the screen.
Shooting modes come from quick-launch icons that mimic apps from a smartphone. Swiping across these screens isn't always the smoothest experience because of the pressure you've got to put on the resistive screen, but it's otherwise quickly responsive with little lag in transitions. The creative modes like shooting for children (which puts an animation on the front LCD to make kids smile at the camera) and video and still image filters are easy to use and add genuine value to the amateur shooting experience.
Video shoots as high as 720p at 30 frames a second, though it isn't the best quality we've seen. Similar to still shots, edges are slightly rounded rather than sharp. The camera can push up to an ISO count of 3200, though it's hardly useful when even lit-scenario shots have hints of grain when zoomed into full-size.
|Few physical buttons, like the single 'home' button on the backside, make this camera extremely simple to use|
As more of a simple utilitarian digicam than most, the ST700 is built to stand up on its own on the slightest angle to make timed shots without a tripod not just possible but much easier.
All round, the ST700 is a classy little number with many a cheesy feature. But Samsung has delivered what many people want from their point-and-shooters like utilities to make it easier to snap shots of the kids, take self-portraits with friends and quickly edit photos on the go. It's simple to use and can turn fun when you start adding in effects. The quality could be improved on the small sensor, but unfortunately many consumers jump straight to the megapixel count over anything else.