Sitting at low end of the compact camera market the Samsung PL50 takes decent pictures and has a good number of image modes. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of other cameras on the market but it is able to capture images at 10.2 Megapixels and has an attractive price tag.
In testing the image quality on the PL50 we found that it produced excellent colours, especially in broad daylight. It handled indoor photography reasonably well but tended to switch over to the flash when it wasn’t necessary. When taking images indoors, it’s probably a good idea to disable the flash. In low light it struggled a bit with quite a bit of image noise creeping into the image but that’s to be expected for a compact camera in this price range.
The design is a bit bulkier than the ST50 that we reviewed earlier this week, but it is still fairly compact and lightweight. We didn’t like the zoom button though, it felt a little too flimsy and wasn’t comfortable to use. To switch between the different modes, the camera uses a wheel like many conventional cameras with a ‘smart’ mode as one of the options. In smart mode the camera analyses what you are shooting and switches over to the best possible shooting mode. It works very well and quickly and results in great photos.
When focusing, the PL50 struggles at times especially when trying to differentiate between foreground and background. If the foreground is vastly different from the colours and tone of the background it generally works well but when they are similar it focuses on the wrong thing at times or refuses to focus at all. It isn’t a massive problem but it is definitely can be annoying.
One of the modes is face detection which can track faces in the image and make them the focal point of the image. This worked quite well and was able to overcome some of the focus issues but even in face detection, there was the odd focus error as well. There is also a beauty mode which can smooth out skin blemishes but it does tend to make people look as though they have been airbrushed. We particularly liked the night mode which produced great images bursting with colour and very little noise. It will require you to keep the camera very still though as the long shutter speeds can cause blurring very easily so try and use a steady surface or tripod when taking shots at night.
The Samsung PL50 is a good all round entry level camera. It isn’t cheap and nasty and is capable of producing excellent colour reproduction. Considering the quality of Samsung cameras over the last few years, this is a great step up for the brand and a camera worth looking at for budget conscious consumers.
The Samsung PL50 is available now for the recommended retail price of $249