Costing less than the more advanced Samsung EX1 (TL500) from the brand’s Performance range, the Samsung ST93′s pricepoint puts it alongside rivals such as the Nikon Coolpix S6200, Canon IXUS 230 HS, Canon PowerShot SX150 IS and Samsung’s own Samsung MV800.
It offers five different shooting modes – Smart Auto, Program, Panorama, Scene and Dual Image Stabilisation – which gives users a wide range of modes to choose from without being too overwhelming.
The camera also offers 10 scene options including Magic Frame (where you can take your photo surrounded by a selection of graphics), Beauty Shot, Object Highlight, Night, Sunset and Dawn. Alternatively, you can choose Smart Auto and the camera will pick the best mode for your environment.
The Samsung ST93 has the standard five flash options (although some are only available when using certain modes) such as redeye reduction and fill flash.
Unsurprisingly at this price point, the Samsung ST93 doesn’t offer a manual mode, but the Program shooting mode has quite a few changeable options including white balance, ISO, EV compensation and image quality settings, enabling the user to take photos in a variety of conditions. There are also several filter options available such as Miniature (replicating the popular tilt-shift mode), Retro, Fish-eye, Half Tone Dot and Vignetting.
Video can be shot in 720p HD (1280 x 720), VGA (640 x 480) or QVGA (320 x240). There’s an impressive amount of options for shooting movies, including setting the frame rate as well as the white balance, EV compensation and metering.
Build quality and handling
Available in a variety of colours including silver, red and black, the Samsung ST93 weighs in at 95g (without the battery or a memory card) and measures 89.6 x 54.8 x 17.5mm, making it fairly small and easy to carry. It uses microSD memory cards with 12MB of internal storage and has a lithium ion battery.
It’s worth noting that the options within Smart Auto mode are severely limited. You’re only able to choose between Smart Auto flash or no flash, and the only function you can adjust is the picture size. This mode will automatically decide whether you need to use a macro setting and apply it accordingly.
In-camera resizing and editing is available, although it’s slightly difficult to find in the menu structure. The options to adjust the brightness, contrast and red eye are easy to use, and you can also apply filters after the photo has been taken. This is handy if you’d like to try out the tilt-shift option or add some extra vignetting. If you don’t have access to photo editing software then the resizing and retouching in the camera will make reasonable substitutes.
The Samsung ST93′s 2.7-inch LCD screen is bright and easy to view, although it can be difficult to see if light is shining directly onto it. The menu options are clear and easily accessible – mode changes are available via the Mode button, plus the function option allows you to tweak your settings.
The USB socket is small and protected by a hard plastic flap, which feels more durable than the soft rubber caps that can twist or be broken easily. The battery compartment has a lock to prevent accidental opening, and has a sturdy feel with a slight spring to prevent damage when open.
While overall quality of the images captured by the Samsung ST93 is decent, they’re not always as sharp and as crisp as we’d like to see. They do have a good range of well represented colours, but when viewed at 100% some of the images are blurry and soft. Both the auto and program modes seem to suffer occasionally from blurring and darkness, which using the image stabilisation mode helped to resolve.
The sensitivity range is between ISO 80 and 3200, with expected reduction in picture quality and colour at the higher end of the scale.
The time between shots is the biggest bugbear about the Samsung ST93. The wait between shots is on average about 2.5 seconds, and in continuous drive mode the speed between shots can still be slow, even when the picture size and quality is reduced.
Smile Shot and Blink Detection functions worked reasonably well during our tests, managing to recognise and photograph a smile four times out of five. Self Portrait mode offers an audio signal to the photographer to tell you when you’re in the shot and in focus.
The Samsung ST93 also offers audio signals when your photos are in focus or out of focus in other modes, which is useful if you’re not able to see the screen well.
Panorama mode works well, asking you to depress the shutter then pan sideways slowly to capture the scene rather than stitching together several different shots, similar to the Sweep Panorama function found in Sony compact cameras such as the Sony NEX-5.
The images on the LCD display sometimes appear brighter than when viewed on a computer, which is worth remembering if you’re adjusting the exposure compensation or the sensitivity.
As expected with a compact camera, the Samsung ST93′s capabilities of shooting in low light or at night are limited. You can adjust the shutter speed and aperture using night mode on the scene selector, but the use of a tripod is recommended.
Dual Image Stabilisation can be accessed either through the Program mode or via its own mode to enable users to take better photos during low light conditions, which helped to make photos sharper during testing.
The HD video and VGA shooting options create moving footage that would be perfectly acceptable to post online, although if you zoom in during recording the sound of this can be quite apparent.
Noise and dynamic range
A high signal to noise ratio (SNR) indicates a cleaner and better quality image.
Our results from the lab have been compared against the Canon PowerShot A3300 IS, Nikon Coolpix S4150 and the Pentax Optio RS1500, all avaible for under £100.
Our analysis shows that the cameras’ results are close and while the Nikon Coolpix S4150 tops the signal to noise ratio results, the Samsung ST93 is only just behind. Looking at dynamic range the Samsung ST93 puts in a good performance across the sensitivity range scoring over 9EV up to ISO 400, and is only beaten by the Canon PowerShot A3300.
The ST93 is capable of producing panoramas by sweeping the camera across a scene and stitching the resulting images together in the camera itself. See full res image
- Left – Colours on the ST93 are represented well, being punchy without being overly vibrant – See full res image
- Right – Macro focusing on the ST93 is pretty quick and accurate, making close-up images easy to produce – See full res image
- Left – Edges are well defined on images from the ST93, with bright whites and dark blacks – See full res image
- Right – Chromatic aberration is relatively minimal on the ST93 – See full res image
- Left – A number of art filters are available on the ST93, including this “Vignetting” which darkens the corners of the image and creates a “Lomo” style effect – See full res image
- Right – An example of the “Negative” art filter – See full res image
Sensitivity and noise
- Left – Full ISO 80 image, see the cropped (100%) versions below.
- Right – ISO 80
Sitting in Samsung’s Style range among rivals such as the Nikon Coolpix S6200 and Canon PowerShot SX150 IS, the Samsung ST93 offers a range of shooting options and looks pretty good.
The range of functions and ease of use with the Samsung ST93 enables you to control your shots and add a creative twist.
There’s not a huge amount to dislike about this little camera, but we’d like it if the time between shots could be reduced. And bear in mind that you’ll need a tripod to pull off crisp photos in low light.
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- Samsung MV800 Compact Camera Expert Review
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- Broad range of functions
- Self Portrait mode audio assistance
- Wait between shots can be long
- Zooming in video mode is noisy
- Some buttons are a bit small