Samsung EX1 review

£349
Price when reviewed

Another of those fashionable SLD (single lens, direct view) cameras? Not quite. The EX1 still qualifies as a compact camera, lacking interchangeable lenses and sporting a small 1/1.7in CCD image sensor. Nonetheless its design and features borrow heavily from the new genre.

It’s quite the thing these days to bring out a fixed-focal-length, wide-angle and highly compact “pancake” lens for your SLD. Samsung is following stylistic suit by kitting out the EX1 with a very compact lens giving a 24mm equivalent wide-angle setting. It’s not interchangeable like an SLD’s, but what it does offer is a very fast f/1.8 – f/2.4 maximum aperture to go with a 3x zoom range.

The rest of the body is relatively chunky though, in particular its 114mm width. And there’s a big disadvantage compared to true SLD cameras such as the Olympus PEN range and Panasonic Lumix G2. You don’t get the advantage of a big Four Thirds sensor here, with the standard compact camera size offering a total area almost six times smaller than a Micro Four Thirds sensor.

Samsung EX1

The back of the body is mightily impressive, sporting a big 3in screen. And not just any big 3in screen either; Samsung has kitted it out with its own AMOLED technology, making it supremely bright and vibrant. We’re not convinced about the accuracy of the colour reproduction – it tends toward a cool blueish colour temperature – but it’s capable enough to be able to frame your shot when other screens have been washed out by bright sunlight. It’s a fold-out design too, hinging from the left and able to face fully forward, or to swivel 180 degrees inwards and face the body for protection.

A traditional top-mounted rotary mode dial offers the familiar aperture priority, shutter priority and manual modes. Zoom and focus are electronic though, and manual focus is a disappointment, with nowhere near enough onscreen magnification to see whether a shot is actually in focus.

Samsung EX1

The small sensor hamstrings photos from the EX1. Noise and chromatic aberrations are well controlled, and the super-fast lens makes low-light candid shooting a real possibility. But compared to the lovely open images you get from an SLD, shots from the Samsung just don’t sparkle. The limited dynamic range gives clipped highlights and that unmistakable digital-compact feel to shots. And if you’re looking for video, look elsewhere: the EX1 will only manage VGA resolution movies.

If this camera had a Micro Four Thirds sensor in it we’d be jumping for joy. As it is, it’s a very good digital compact and the lens puts it among the best non-SLD options for amateurs in search of a carry-everywhere camera. But casual snappers will find it too big, and the lure of the SLD makes it a tough sell for serious shutterbugs.

Details

Image quality 4

Basic specifications

Camera megapixel rating 10.0mp
Camera screen size 3.0in
Camera optical zoom range 3x
Camera maximum resolution 3648 x 2736

Weight and dimensions

Weight 342g
Dimensions 114 x 44 x 64mm (WDH)

Battery

Battery type included Lithium-ion
Battery life (CIPA standard) 240 shots
Charger included? yes

Other specifications

Built-in flash? yes
Aperture range f1.8 - f2.4
Camera minimum focus distance 0.01m
Shortest focal length (35mm equivalent) 24
Longest focal length (35mm equivalent) 72
Minimum (fastest) shutter speed 1/1,500
Maximum (slowest) shutter speed 8s
Bulb exposure mode? no
RAW recording mode? yes
Exposure compensation range +/- 2EV
ISO range 80 - 3200
Selectable white balance settings? yes
Manual/user preset white balane? yes
Progam auto mode? yes
Shutter priority mode? yes
Aperture priority mode? yes
Fully auto mode? yes
Burst frame rate 1.5fps
Exposure bracketing? yes
White-balance bracketing? no
Memory-card type SD, SDHC
Viewfinder coverage N/A
LCD resolution 614k
Secondary LCD display? no
Video/TV output? yes
Body construction Aluminium
Tripod mounting thread? yes
Data connector type micro-USB

Manual, software and accessories

Full printed manual? no
Software supplied none
Accessories supplied none

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