Samsung TL500/EX1 Review
Like the company's mirrorless interchangeable lens NX10, the TL500 is supplied with a Software CD containing:
- Samsung Master (Windows) - Samsung Master is a file browser and image editor. It features a great many JPEG editing effects and tools, ranging from useful tone adjustments to fairly silly image distortion options (how many people actually apply a ripple effect to their images?). Overall it seems fine at what it does but it doesn't seem particularly specific to the NX10 (it can't tell whether images were shot in Smart Range mode, for example). If you already use software such as Picassa, you may find yourself better served by sticking with it.
- Samsung RAW Converter 3 (Windows) - Essentially a Samsung-only version of SilkyPix, a RAW conversion application developed by Ichikawa Soft Laboratory which is probably better known in Japan. SilkyPix provides a wide range of advanced RAW conversion options including adjustable noise reduction, lens aberration correction and rotation / perspective correction.
The TL500 ships with a special (fully featured) edition of SILKYPIX, a rather quirky, though surprisingly well-featured, raw development application for Windows and Mac. The (on-screen) manual is very comprehensive, but doesn't really explain the features very well, and first-time users may find themselves overwhelmed by the sheer volume of options on offer. This isn't helped by the slightly dodgy translations and the plethora of sliders with names that don't really indicate what they actually do. But there is lots here to get stuck into, and the default settings produce perfectly acceptable results.
But after some experimentation and adapting you'll discover that the SILKYPIX can produce superior results to the JPEGs, not least in that they can be fine-tuned to produce output that suits your own needs / tastes. There's easily as much tweaking on offer as you get with Adobe Camera Raw, though the extent of the changes isn't so great so you'll often find yourself pushing lots of sliders and getting pretty similar results. The fact that Samsung, Pentax and Panasonic all provide software based around the Silkypix processing engine suggests it must be pretty capable.
You can save parameter sets (for some reason you put them in the 'cloakroom') once you've found out what works for you, which combined with batch processing and extensive output options (TIFF or JPEG), takes some of the grind out of the business of developing large numbers of raw files.
The great advantages of shooting RAW on the TL500 are the ability to recover highlight detail and apply more sophisticated noise reduction to high ISO images.
The TL500's sensor is very capable in low light which is helped by its bright lens. However, the camera's noise reduction can overwhelm detail at its higher ISO settings. Converting from RAW gives much greater control over noise reduction and shows the camera is capturing much more detail than the JPEGs might lead you to believe.
|JPEG from Camera
(ISO 3200 - default settings)
( ISO 3200, Luminance NR 22, Chroma NR 42)
The TL500 is prone to occasional over-exposure (the large dark area in the middle of this frame isn't helping). Despite -1EV of exposure compensation having been applied, there is still pronounced clipping on the right-hand side of the steam burst and the sky has been left a peculiar shade of blue.
|JPEG from Camera
(ISO 80 - default settings)
(Exp comp. -0.15EV, highlight recovery 32, fill light 7)
A little digital exposure compensation and highlight recovery in Adobe Camera Raw brings a remarkable amount of detail back. There may not be much color information (the target here is grey anyway), but it's also helped bring a sense of reality back to the sky.
RAW files for download
Here we provide RAW files, both from the review and the sample shots we take, to allow you to apply your own workflow techniques and see whether your experiences match ours.