Samsung SH100

The Samsung SH100 is a point-and-shoot compact camera that squeezes in Wi-Fi technology at a budget price point. Turning the “high-end technology, high price” ethos on its head, the SH100 is little more than one hundred pounds from many online stores. Measuring 93 x 53.9 x 18.9mm is it certainly small enough to slip into your pocket and the 110g of weight will be barely noticable too.

Features

A 14.6-megapixel sensor renders high resolution images, paired up with a 26-130mm 5x optical zoom lens that tucks neatly into the body when the camera is switched off.

With the ability to connect to the web via a Wi-Fi connection, the SH100 can upload pictures and video to Facebook, Picasa, YouTube, Photobucket and Samsung.com’s photo site with minimum fuss. Add to this PC Auto Backup that ensures your images are safely stored to hard disk when a relevant Wi-Fi connection becomes available and DLNA compatibility also means easy sharing to your TV or other home network devices. There’s even an email option to send images directly from camera - though without an address book you’ll have to type recipients out individually on each occasion.

Small in form and minimal on buttons - apart from the shutter and power buttons there’s just a single Home button to access all the various settings - the SH100’s main controls are all accessed and adjusted using its touchscreen technology.

The 3-inch screen is of ample size and the virtual buttons are also sizeable, but it’s the lack of response from the touch-sensitive panel that’s the camera’s single biggest problem. With so many Smartphones available that offer smooth and responsive touch control, the SH100 is streets behind by comparison.

And Samsung should know - not only does it produce the well-regarded Galaxy smartphone series (all of which have far more fluid control), but the SH100 (the very camera in this test) includes a Remote Viewfinder feature specifically for use with Android devices. Set the SH100 up in one spot and it is possible to use your Android phone from another to stream real time footage as well as zoom and fire off a shot using a network connection. Something that may have even more application is a tether feature that can come in handy when there’s no Wi-Fi network or hotspot available - by synching the SH100 with your Android phone it’s possible to “borrow” the 3G connection (where available) to share directly from camera. Clever stuff.  

Performance

Shooting speed is ample, though a little slower than we’d like. The same applies to the 5x zoom range that can be a little hesitant to get going but then moves smoothly down the 26-130mm range with ease. The zoom has a tendency to “step” between focal lengths rather than providing pinpoint accuracy, but this is much like other compacts of a similar ilk and not a distinct issue.

One of SH100’s bigger problems is that the 3-inch LCD reflects sunlight. In very bright scenarios composing a shot is difficult, even overcast conditions aren’t without some reflective issues.

With an ISO 80-3200 range available for stills, the SH100 has plenty of sensitivity to tackle all forms of light, whether bright or dark. Image quality is reasonable, though not great due to some softness and over-processed details, but serves its purpose and is more than good enough for snaps of friends and days out. It’s when in darker conditions, and using from ISO 800 and above, that the quality particularly degrades and quality lacks. However colours are realistic and white balance accurate. The built-in flash also means ample illumination is provided for portraits in darker scenarios.

Extra creativity comes in the form of the Smart Filter options that provide (take a deep breath) Miniature, Vignetting, Soft Focus, Fisheye, Old Film, Sketch, Defog, Classic, Retro, Half-Tone Dot, Negative, Palette (vivid) and Custom RGB effects either before or after snapping a shot. There are a whole bunch to play around with that produce decent results and the safety of applying them after shooting means if you don’t like the result then it’s easy to toss it to the trash.

As well as stills the SH100’s 720p HD movie mode is activated by opening the Smart Movie mode and using the virtual record button that appears on screen to set things rolling. The delay between pressing the record button and capture starting is a little slow, and although the zoom range is available during capture there’s no continuous autofocus which can lead to out of focus issues (unless zooming to further away subjects that are closer to infinity).

Verdict

The SH100’s real selling point is its low price. Although it was more upon launch, there are plenty of stores and sites listing various colour options for between £105-120. Consider all the technology that’s been squeezed into this dinky compact and that’s a real bargain. Sure there are some issues with the touchscreen’s responsiveness and the images are of reasonable rather than great quality, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a more technological compact camera for just over the £100 mark.

With so many smartphone-compatible features, however, it does raise the question as to whether a smartphone owner would see the need to add a compact camera to their tech arsenal. If the SH100’s touchscreen was silky smooth in response as per Samsung’s Galaxy phones and tablets then this’d be a fantastic camera. Brushing that though aside and the SH100 still represents great value.   



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