It's the run-up to photography tradeshow PMA 2009, so we can expect a pile of new digital camera news: Standing out among the new releases today is Samsung's TL320. It's a point-and-shoot compact device, much like many others, but on top of its casing lie two small analog dials, reporting on the camera's status in a refreshingly non-digital manner.
The two dials describe the camera's remaining storage space and battery life in a classic "empty-to-full" scale with a genuine moving-dial pointer. Fabulous: Considering the number of cameras out there that strangely don't come with a battery meter at all, it's good to see one that does--with style.
The retro feeling isn't present elsewhere in the design, but the camera does include a couple of modes that make it more advanced (and more "tradtional") than typical point and shoots: It can be commanded into shutter-priority, aperture-priority or full manual modes, which gives the user much more creative control over the shots made.
But full automation isn't forgotten, of course, as the TL320 also features face detection, blink detection and smile detection. There's even a "beauty shot" mode that rather eerily locates photographed skin and enhances its tones while removing blemishes.
Otherwise it's a 12-megapixel shooter, with a nice 24mm ultra-wide-angle lens, 5x optical zoom and a 3-inch AMOLED display screen out in May for $380. Does it herald a new retro-inspired design revolution? Probably not, but I'd certainly welcome such cute design touches on future gadgets.