- Review Date: 03/12/2013
- Bottom line: The Samsung DV150F is a fairly capable dual-screen pocket camera with integrated Wi-Fi that delivers more features than its modest price would suggest.
- Pros: Inexpensive. Compact.Front-facing LCD for self portraits. Wi-Fi. Stabilized lens.Wide-angle lens. Fast f/2.5 maximum aperture.
- Cons: Slow performance. Grainy photos at higher ISO settings. Not the sharpest lens. Short 5x zoom range.
The DV150F ($149.99 list) is the latest iteration in Samsung's Dual View camera design. In addition to the rear LCD, which is a ubiquitous feature on point-and-shoots, a front LCD lets you point the lens at yourself to snap a quick self portrait. The 25mm wide-angle field of view makes it possible for a friend to join you, and integrated Wi-Fi lets you beam the photo directly to Facebook or your smartphone. The camera is rife with features, but its image quality leaves some room for improvement.
Design and Features
The most striking feature of this camera is its front LCD. The previous-gen DV300F carefully hid the LCD in its brushed-metal exterior—you could only tell that it was there when it was turned on. The DV150F makes it very clear that there's an LCD up front. At 2.2 by 3.7 by 0.8 inches the camera body is slim enough to slide into your back pocket, and it weighs only 3.5 ounces. If you want a significantly smaller camera you don't have a lot of options—the only one that's obvious is the tiny 2.1-by-3.1-by-0.7-inch Nikon Coolpix S01
The front LCD is just 1.5 inches, but is bright and sharp enough to assist you in framing self portraits. The rear display is bigger at 2.7 inches, and is plenty sharp at 460k dots. There are premium point-and-shoots with sharper 920k-dot displays, but you won't find any of them in this price range. When you hit the Power button the rear LCD is activated by default, but you can switch to the front display via a dedicated button on the top of the camera—pressing that button when the DV150F is powered down will start it up and turn on the front screen immediately.
This isn’t a camera for photographers who are looking to exert a lot of control over images, but there are still a few physical buttons to change up your settings. You can adjust the Flash output, activate the Self Timer, and enable macro shooting via a rear directional pad. The most intuitive tool for novice shooters, the Plus/Minus button that activates Exposure Compensation to make photos brighter or darker, is missing; you’ll have to adjust that via a software menu.
Aside from the front LCD, the big feature here is built-in Wi-Fi connectivity. There’s a programmable Direct Link button on the rear of the DV150F that will take you to your favorite in-camera Wi-Fi app. The full slate can be accessed via the Home menu, which is laid out like icons on a smartphone, but since the display is not touch sensitive, you’ll have to navigate using the rear controls. Wi-Fi options include MobileLink, which allows you to transfer photos from the camera to your smartphone via a free iOS and Android application. Photos are transferred at full 16-megapixel resolution, but are compressed by the app to take up less space on your phone. The test file we transferred was about 5 megabytes, but compressed to the point where it only took up 2MB on the phone. Most folks will use this feature to share photos via email, Facebook, Twitter, or other social networks—the loss of quality from the extra compression is unlikely to be a big deal for these purposes, as most everyone will view the photo at a lower resolution on a computer screen.
You also get Remote Viewfinder, which lets you take control of the camera via your smartphone. You can zoom the lens, control the flash, set the self timer, and fire the shutter. And Auto Backup is useful when you’re at home, as it will transfer the contents of the memory card to your PC, and if you’re connected to a hotspot you can share photos with friends and family via email, or upload directly to Facebook, Picasa, YouTube, and SkyDrive. The camera also works with Samsung’s AllShare Play service, which lets you send photos to cloud storage or directly to nearby devices via the DLNA protocol. It's impressive that Samsung has included its full Wi-Fi implementation—the same one that is built into more expensive cameras like the WB850F
Performance and Conclusions
The DV150F isn't going to win any races, but its performance isn't out of line for a camera in its price range. It requires 1.8 seconds to start up and take a shot, makes you wait 1.5 seconds between photos, and records a 0.4-second shutter lag. Compare this to the tiny Nikon Coolpix S01, which requires 3.4 seconds to get the first shot, notching a 1.6-second wait between photos, and recording a 0.6-second shutter lag, and the DV150F looks pretty good.
I used Imatest to check the sharpness of photos captured by the DV150F. It scored 1,755 lines per picture height, which is just shy of the 1,800 lines that we used to qualify an image as sharp. Last year's DV300F scored a bit better, notching 1,983 lines. Shooters who look to share images on the Web shouldn't be overly concerned—but if you plan on printing, expect image quality to suffer a bit, especially at the edges of the frame. The camera is actually quite sharp in the center, but our test shots showed that objects framed towards the sides are a bit fuzzy. Canon's PowerShot A4000 IS, which sells for around $100, delivers much sharper images, scoring 2,300 lines on the same test.
We also use Imatest to check for noise, which can decrease sharpness and as you increase the camera's sensitivity to light. Point-and-shoots that use CCD sensor technology often struggle with noise at higher ISO settings, and the DV150F is no exception. It manages to keep noise under 1.5 percent through ISO 800, but by that point the detail in images has been smudged away. Close examination of photos shows that detail starts to disappear as soon as you exceed the base ISO of 80; ISO 400 is the point where it starts to get bad. This is similar to what we saw in the Olympus VR-340, which also kept noise under 1.5 percent through ISO 800 but also produced images that quickly fell apart as the ISO was turned up. Cameras with CMOS sensors, like our Editors' Choice Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX150 generally perform better at higher ISO settings, but are also more expensive.
As with other CCD compacts, video is limited to 720p30 quality in MP4 format. Despite not reaching full HD resolution, the video is quite sharp and clear in good lighting. The DV150F refocuses with ease, and the sound of the lens zooming in and out is not noticeable on the soundtrack. Handheld footage is a bit shaky when the lens is zoomed all the way in, but that's less of a concern at wider angles. The only port on the camera is a standard micro USB connection, which doubles as the connector for the included AC adapter—you have to charge the battery in-camera. The memory card slot fits microSD cards, not the standard SD cards found in most cameras.
The DV150F packs a lot of features into a small, inexpensive camera. The front LCD is perfect for Facebook addicts who adorn their timeline with arm's-length selfies, and built-in Wi-Fi makes it easy to get those photos posted in no time. If you're bothered by the short 5x zoom range, consider the 10x Olympus VR-340 10x, which currently sells for less than $100, or the 8x Canon PowerShot A4000 IS. If you want a camera that does better in lower light, you'll need to move up to a more expensive point-and-shoot with a CMOS sensor, like our current Editors' Choice budget compact, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX150.
This review is in partnership with PCMag.com.