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Samsung TL500/EX1 Review

July 2010 | By Richard Butler

Review based on a production Samsung EX1

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.

The TL500 is slightly larger in every dimension than Panasonic's LX3, which is itself larger than the S90
The flip-out screen helps ensure the TL500 can't quite match the LX3 for compactness, though it will still fit in a coat pocket easily enough, providing always-with-you convenience

Samsung TL500/EX1 specifications

Recommended price • $449
• €387
• £395
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
• F1.8-2.4
Image stabilization Yes (Lens-Shift)
Digital zoom up to 4x
Focus • Auto focus :TTL
- Center
- Multi AF
- Selection
- Tracking
- Face Detection
- Smart Face Recognition
• Macro
• Manual focus
AF lock Yes (on/off selectable)
AF assist lamp Yes
Focus distance Closest focus distance 5 cm
Metering • Multi
• Center-weighted
• Spot
ISO sensitivity • Auto
• ISO 80
• ISO 100
• ISO 200
• ISO 400
• ISO 800
• ISO 1600
• ISO 3200
AE lock Yes
Exposure compensation +/- 2EV in 1/3 stop increments
Shutter speed • Auto (1 - 1/1500 sec)
• 16-1/1600 sec
Modes • Auto
• Program AE
• Shutter Priority AE
• Aperture Priority AE
• Manual
Scene modes • Beauty Shot
• Frame Guide
• Night, Portrait
• Children
• Landscape
• Close-up
• Text
• Sunset
• Dawn
• Backlight
• Firework
• Beach & Snow
• Movie
White balance • Auto (including Face Detection WB)
• Daylight
• Cloudy
• Tungsten
• Fluorescent L
• Fluorescent H
• Flash
• Custom
Self timer • 10 or 2 seconds
Continuous shooting • Yes (rate not specified)
Image parameters • Normal
• Sketch
• Defog
• Soft
• Vivid
• Forest
• Retro
• Cool,
• Calm,
• Classic
• Negative
• Custom RGB
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
• 614000 dots
Connectivity • USB 2.0 Hi-Speed
• HDMI mini connector
• AV out (PAL / NTSC switchable)
Print compliance PictBridge
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).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

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This article is Copyright 2010 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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Pantyhose Bandit
By Pantyhose Bandit (2 months ago)

But can the LCD swivel so that it can be viewed from the front?