This Gadling gear review is going to introduce you to one of the newest cameras from Samsung. The Korean electronics maker may not be one of the first names you think of when you shop for a digital camera, but their products are always quite innovative and usually bring pretty decent value for money to the table.
The TL225 “Dualview” camera is the first digital camera with two LCD screens. On the rear of the camera is a 3.5″ touch sensitive screen, and on the front is a lower resolution 1.5″ screen.
The basic specifications of the camera are quite decent – 27mm wide angle 4.6x optical zoom with dual image stabilization, 12.2 megapixel sensor, smart face recognition, 29 smart scene modes, 14 effect modes, 15 integrated edit features, HD video and a voice recorder.
The second screen is of course the biggest selling point of the TL225. When turned off, the screen can’t be seen, as it is hidden behind a piano black plastic exterior. When enabled, you can select to use it as a second viewfinder, which is great if you like making photos of yourself.
A second mode turns the display into a settings screen, showing the current mode and focus settings. The screen also shows a countdown timer when on timed shutter mode. A third setting uses the screen to grab the attention of young kids, by displaying cute animated cartoon clips.
Sadly, when you turn the camera off, the Dualview screen setting is lost – so if you plan to use it a lot, you’ll need to turn it on every time you power the camera on. The screen is also a little dark, making it fairly useless in bright scenes.
In using the camera, I found the animated kid setting to be the most useful. The self-view feature is fun, and if you combine it with a small tripod, you’ll be able to make decent photos of yourself, without having to hand your camera off to a stranger.
The touch screen is nice – but it’ll be something you either love or hate. Integrated behind the screen is “haptic feedback”, which means you get a vibration feedback when you touch it. Navigating the menus is fairly easy, and there are still dedicated buttons for zoom, power, shutter and playback.
The screen also supports several gestures, making it really simple to browse photos by swiping left or right.
The TL225 takes MicroSD memory cards – which is also one of its biggest drawbacks. For starters, MicroSD cards are about 2-3x more expensive than regular SD memory. MicroSD cards are also more expensive if you need a faster card, something you’ll absolutely need if you plan to record HD movies.
I initially tested the camera with a class 2 8GB card (a pretty popular speed/size), but it could not record HD video, complaining about the card speed. I then tried it with a class 6 8GB card, and had no problems with HD. A high speed Class 6 MicroSD card is fairly hard to find, and you’ll need to go online to find a retailer that carries them as your local electronics store usually only carries class 2 or class 4 (the higher the number, the faster the card). I understand how space constraints forced them to make the switch to MicroSD, but it is really inconvenient.
Another big inconvenience is the USB/video connector port. As with many Samsung products, the TL225 uses a proprietary connector, which means you’ll need to bring the bulky USB cable with you when your travel. The camera does come with a video cable, but only for non-HD content. An HDMI cable for viewing content on an HD TV is an optional extra, and I was not able to locate any (online) retailer selling it.
There is a lot to like about the Samsung TL225 – it looks great, has a very decent wide angle zoom lens, and the quality of its photos is above average (sample photos are in the gallery below). The Dualview screen starts off feeling like a nice gimmick, but I actually found myself making good use of it.
Sadly, there are also several things I did not like – the camera is quite sluggish, and I often got annoyed waiting for it to take a photo after I pressed the shutter. The piano black exterior is going to be a massive fingerprint magnet, so be sure to carry a cleaning cloth when you take it on a trip.
The proprietary cable and MicroSD slot are probably the two things that annoy me the most – most manufacturers offer cameras with MiniUSB and MiniHDMI but Samsung forces you to carry their bulky (and rather short) USB cable with you. Thankfully the USB cable does allow you to charge the camera when plugged into your computer. When you purchase the camera, calculate an additional $30 into the price for a fast MicroSD memory card.
The TL225 comes with a carrying strap, battery, USB/charging cable, USB wall charger, composite video cable, manual and software CD (Windows only). Its MSRP is $349.99, but can regularly be found for as little as $250, making is a very decent bargain for such a well equipped camera.
Samsung product page