In the run up to PMA 2009, Samsung announced four new SL-series point-and-shoots. In a summer refresher that fills in some features and cost gaps in Samsung's premium point-and-shoot series, the manufacturer today unwrapped two more 5x zoom SL models – the Samsung SL502 and Samsung SL720.
The SL502 and more expensive and full-featured SL720 share a basic platform in common, including a 12.2 megapixel sensor, a new Smart Face Recognition system, and several of Samsung's other "smart" technologies designed to make pointing and shooting easier and more intuitive.
SL720 gets wide-angle lens, HD video
Slotting into the SL series beneath Samsung's flagship SL820 point-and-shoot, the SL720 features many of the same technologies that marked the top-of-the-line model. Most notably, the SL720's 5x zoom lens sports wide-angle coverage at to an equivalent 28mm, and packs in optical image stabilization as well.
Like the SL820, the SL720 also gets a 3.0 inch, 230,000 dot display, as well as a 720p HD video capture option. The SL720 uses H.264 video compression, which boasts high video and audio quality with reduced per-minute file sizes.
An optional HDMI cradle provides output for HDTVs, and Samsung is also touting the SL720's ability to use its optical zoom during video capture.
Conventional specs, impressive price for SL502
Sitting squarely between Samsung's budget SL models and the high-end SL620, the new SL502 sports the same 12.2 megapixel image capture capabilities as the SL720. A 5x zoom is standard as well, although the SL502's lens lacks the 28mm wide-angle view of the more expensive model (it's speced at 35mm at the wide end).
A 2.7 inch LCD is used in this case, and video capture is the standard 640x480/30fps spec rather than HD – although as in the SL720, the zoom lens is unlocked for use while you're filming. Likewise, you'll get ISO-boosting digital image stabilization only on the new step-down model, versus the SL720 dual digital and optical IS.
Soft features and shooting modes, however, are nearly identical to what you'll find on the higher-end SL models, with a Smart Auto mode that's capable of selecting the ideal scene preset for any given scene, as well as a new Face Recognition feature that can store, remember, and prioritize focus and exposure for up to 20 faces.
With most of the capture technologies found in a more expensive point-and-shoot, though, the SL502's sub-$150 price point might just be the most important and impressive spec of all in this case.
Pricing and availability
Both new SL models are slated for retail release in August. Look for a street price of about $229.99 on the SL720, with the SL502 expected to sell for $149.99.
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