Samsung TL500/EX1 Review
As DSLRs have become less expensive, the number of people keen to buy high-end, manually controllable compact cameras has fallen away - so long as camera size isn't an issue, the benefits of a larger sensor are hard to resist. However, because size is a concern for some people, the sector didn't die-off entirely and, in July 2008, Panasonic introduced the DMC-LX3, finally giving an alternative to Canon's well-respected G-series.
Now Samsung, another vast electronics specialist wanting to show off its photographic credentials has introduced the TL500 (EX1 outside North America), a pretty little thing that follows the LX3 recipe of a fast, wide (though reach-limited) zoom lens in a fairly compact metal body. The Samsung offers an impressive F1.8-2.4 zoom lens that covers a range from the very wideangle 24mm equivalent out to 72mm equiv. making it a fraction faster than the LX3 at the wide end and a touch longer at the other.
The other standout feature of the TL500 is undoubtedly its rear screen - not only does it have a fully articulated screen, it also has the excellent VGA-equivalent OLED screen we first saw on the NX10. In principle OLED screens can be more efficient and offer greater contrast than LCD panels because they can selectively light just the pixels that need to be illuminated. They also promise greater viewing angles.
In many other respects the TL500 closely mimics the LX3's design though it adds a direct video record button, despite only offering rather dated VGA video recording. This limitation, coming from a 10MP, 1/1.7" CCD, strongly suggests the camera is based around the same high sensitivity Sony sensor as the Canon G11 and S90.
Overall it's an impressive specification, packing a lot of desirable features, such as RAW capability and easy manual control into its stylish form.
Samsung TL500 Key Features
- 24-72mm equivalent F1.8-2.4 image stabilized lens
- 10 million pixel 1/1.7" sensor (0.43 cm²)
- Front click dial and rear control dial
- RAW shooting
- 3.0 inch VGA-equivalent articulated OLED screen
- Accessible manual controls
- Optical Image Stabilization
- Smart Mode with automatic scene detection
- VGA output
- HD output
Side by side
It's clear from this picture that the Samsung isn't as small as the Panasonic LX3 that has clearly played heavily on the minds of its designers. Canon's S90 is smaller still, however the TL500/EX1 isn't as large as Canon's G11.
Samsung TL500/EX1 specifications
|Recommended price|| $449
|Sensor|| 1/1.7" Type CCD
10 million effective pixels
|Image sizes|| 3648 x 2736 (4:3)
3648 x 2432 (3:2)
3264 x 2448
3648 x 2048 (16:9)
2736 x 2736 (1:1)
2592 x 1944
2048 x 1536
1920 x 1080
1024 x 768
|Movie clips|| 640 x 480 @ 30, 15 fps
320 x 240 @ 30, 15fps
|File formats|| Still: JPEG (Exif v2.21), RAW
Movie: Container : MP4, Video : H.264, Audio : AAC
|Lens|| 24-72mm (35mm equiv)
f = 5.2 - 15.6 mm
3x optical zoom
|Image stabilization||Yes (Lens-Shift)|
|Digital zoom||up to 4x|
|Focus|| Auto focus :TTL
- Multi AF
- Face Detection
- Smart Face Recognition
|AF lock||Yes (on/off selectable)|
|AF assist lamp||Yes|
|Focus distance||Closest focus distance 5 cm|
|ISO sensitivity|| Auto
|Exposure compensation||+/- 2EV in 1/3 stop increments|
|Shutter speed|| Auto (1 - 1/1500 sec)
Shutter Priority AE
Aperture Priority AE
|Scene modes|| Beauty Shot
Beach & Snow
|White balance|| Auto (including Face Detection WB)
|Self timer|| 10 or 2 seconds|
|Continuous shooting|| Yes (rate not specified)|
|Image parameters|| Normal
|Flash|| Auto, Flash On, Flash Off, Slow Sync, Red-eye reduction
Wide : 0.2m - 6.2m, Tele : 0.5m - 5.1m (ISO AUTO)
Flash EVC +/- 1EV (1/2 steps)
|Monitor|| 3.0 inch multi-angle AMOLED
|Connectivity|| USB 2.0 Hi-Speed
HDMI mini connector
AV out (PAL / NTSC switchable)
|Storage||SD / SDHC|
|Power||Rechargeable Li-ion Battery SLB-11A|
|Weight (no batt)||356 g|
|Dimensions||114 x 65 x 30 mm|
If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).
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