Roundup: Enthusiast Zoom Compact Cameras
12MP | 24-80mm (3.3x) Zoom | $499 (US) £420 (UK) €370 (EU)
The Samsung EX2F is a successor to the company's EX1 (known as the TL500 in some markets). Its name is now the same across all markets, and gains the 'F' that Samsung uses to denote its Wi-Fi capable cameras. It sees a 12MP BSI CMOS sensor supplanting the 10MP CCD that was used in its predecessor, and beyond these changes carries forward that camera's impressive specifications. Its lens starts off both wide and impressively bright (the 24mm equivalent, F1.4 figure being used extensively in the marketing material) but slows down soon after, meaning it's pretty quickly out-gunned by several cameras in this class.
- 12.0MP 1/1.7" BSI CMOS sensor
- 24-80mm (equivalent), F1.4-2.7 optically stabilized lens
- ISO 80-3200
- Front clickable control dial and rear four-way dial
- 1080p30 video with stereo microphones
- 3.0" fully-articulated OLED screen with 460k dots
- 240 shot battery life (CIPA)
- Built-in ND filter
- Hot shoe for external flash units
- Wi-Fi connectivity
The EX2F is a well-built camera and one of the few to offer a flip-out swivel display. It's generally comfortable to use, though some of us found we had to reposition our grip on the camera each time we tried to use the front dial - which suggests the ergonomics could do with a bit more work.
Sadly the EXF2 isn't as well polished as most of the other cameras in this cohort. It features less customization and more quirks than any of the other cameras here, making for an occasionally infuriating shooting experience. Several settings are mutually incompatible but with no apparent logic or indication of the conflict, making it nearly impossible to resolve. While we can just about accept that Face Detection mode wouldn't be available in Raw shooting mode (though it's unusual on a modern camera), it took a long time to diagnose that a change to the image processing settings (even a one step increase in contrast) will also disable it. Furthermore, the camera's Wi-Fi button locks up the camera for almost 3 seconds if you press it accidentally. It can be re-configured to perform other functions but they're all Wi-Fi related, so an accidental press involves a 3 second pause and some button pressing to cancel the action.
The Wi-Fi features themselves are potentially useful but, as with most wireless solutions we've tried so far, aren't as simple as you'd like them to be (though the Samsung system seems to be one of the more reliable). As such, it's hard to recommend the EX2F if you want to use Wi-Fi regularly (using an Eye-Fi card in the other cameras here will be similarly effective), and the rest of the camera's performance isn't good enough for Wi-Fi as an occasionally-used feature to tip the balance in the Samsung's favor.
Performance and Image Quality
The EX2F's image quality is competitive in this class, although it doesn't excel. Metering and white balance can be a little unpredictable, meaning images can come out too bright or with too much of a cold, blue tint from time to time. The camera corrects chromatic aberration rather aggressively, giving odd hazy halos on high-contrast edges. Add a high level of sharpening (and a loss of Face Detection if you try to adjust it) and the over-processed-looking JPEGs don't really show off the camera's full potential. The best way of getting to the camera's full image quality is to shoot Raw which, in the case of the EX2F, means capturing oddly large ~30MB files.
None of our criticisms should be taken to mean the camera is a disaster - it's actually pretty good and can produce some pleasant results. However, its rivals are all so good that simply being 'pretty good' isn't enough. The EX2F doesn't offer anything that at least one of its rivals can't do at least as well, either in feature or image quality terms. If you're desperate to have Wi-Fi capability, you may find a Wi-Fi capable card placed in one of the other cameras is just as useful.
Studio and Real-World Samples (links open in new tab)
|Studio Comparison Tool||Samsung EX2F Samples (25 images)|
What we like: Good image quality. Wi-Fi capability. Solid build quality. Quick-to-use Fn menu.
What we don't like: Frustrating interface quirks spoil user experience. Over-processed JPEG output. Huge Raw file size. Limited lens reach.