In anticipation of PMA, Samsung has updated its SL series of point-and-shoot models to include four new offerings: the wide-angle, HD-video ready SL820, the premium SL620, and the budget-friendly SL202 and SL30.
HD video and wide-angle shooting mark SL820
The SL820 ups the bar on Samsung's SL series of small, general use cameras, offering a range of features not previously seen in this line. Most notable among them is the SL820's optically stabilized 5x zoom lens with 28mm wide-angle coverage.
Other key specs include a large, bright 3.0 inch LCD and a 12.2 megapixel sensor that the SL820 shares with the SL620.
The SL820 is also noteworthy for its video capture capabilities. With improved video performance one of the buzzwords for PMA this year, it's hardly surprising that Samsung would offer a high-end ultracompact with 720p HD video recording capabilities.
To further sweeten the deal, the SL820 captures its HD movies using the smooth, efficient H.264 codec, and Samsung allows the full range of the camera's zoom to be used while shooting video. A docking cradle provides HDMI output, allowing movies and stills to be shown on HDTVs.
Smart shooting comes to SL620
Packing a similar design and specs to those seen on its big brother, the 12.2 megapixel SL620 also offers a 5x zoom – albeit without the SL820's wide-angle lens. A 3.0 LCD is standard on the step-down model as well, as is optical image stabilization.
The SL620 doesn't provide the SL820's HD video capture, but can record movies (with full use of the zoom) at up to 640x480/30 fps.
In another technological cross-over, both the SL620 and the advanced SL820 feature Samsung's newly developed Smart Auto system. Samsung's take on automatic scene recognition selects from one of the camera's 11 preset shooting modes, based on an evaluation of shooting conditions.
A similar function, Smart Album, provides intuitive search options in playback mode, allowing users to sort files by date taken, file type, or even on content-based criteria like the color tone of an image or whether the shot is a portrait.
SL202, SL30 make SL-series features more affordable
Samsung is also announcing a pair of slim, budget-conscious SL models. The 10 megapixel SL202 and SL30 feature 3x zoom lenses and video capture at 640x480.
The lithium-ion powered SL202 inherits the Smart Auto/Smart Album functions from the more advanced SL cameras and a larger 2.7 inch LCD.
The base model SL30 uses readily available AAs for power and provides shot composition and image review on a 2.5 inch display.
Although neither entry-level model is equipped with optical image stabilization, both feature Samsung's digital image stabilization technology. Likewise, a basic complement of auto-exposure technologies, including face detection, blink detection, and Samsung's Smile Shot system, are available on both cameras.
Pricing and availability
The SL820 should hit stores in May, with a suggested retail price of $279.99. The SL620 should make it to market a bit earlier, expected to cost around $199.99 when it shows up in stores in March.
The SL202 and SL30 will both be available for sale in March as well, priced at $149.99 and $99.99, respectively.