Tuesday, December 10, 2019
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Quick Review: Samsung EX1

Last year, and the year before that, it would have been highly unusual for me to say that I’d recommend a Samsung camera. Fact is though, they have made some extremely innovative cameras, with some of the best built cameras on the market. The only thing that has let them down is image quality. Yes, kind of an important feature.

Enter the Samsung EX1. From the outset I will say that as soon as I picked up this camera, I thought I was going to like it. It’s very well made, and it just looks great.

It’s competition is the G11, LX-3 and Ricoh GX200. These cameras are for the serious user and each has it’s own list of benefits and things we dislike.

Of course, it all means nothing without good image quality and here the EX1 is a real contender. We found the image quality at low ISO exceptional and the high ISO image quality was better than we expected. The dynamic range of the camera is also impressive , with the camera able to hold highlights much better than other cameras.
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The most impressive feature of the EX1 was it’s white balance. The images looked natural with good colour. Under horrible mixed lighting of flouro and tungstenm and halogen lighting, , ever camera we tested alongside the EX did not render white as white. The EX1 did. You can include the S90, G11, Nikon S8000, LX3 and Ricoh GX200 here. The EX1 was a complete revelation.

But during the usage of the camera, we found something. The menus and the user interface had much that needs improving.It had become so frustrating during use, that we were ready to put the camera down and go home. Another reviewer wrote:

I was more than pleased with the image quality from the EX-1. Out of camera JPGs were a notch above those from many competitive cameras, which are typically oversaturated and almost always oversharpened.

I would agree with that assessment. In fact, I will say that the Ex1 is the best ‘point-and-shoot’ camera on the market. If you want to pick up a camera, leave it in auto mode and press the button, then the EX1 is for you.

The camera was impressive at low ISO settings, and not just in RAW mode. The jpeg photos were very good.The dynamic range for such a camera is excellent with the camera handling highlights in the shot very well.  However, even at ISO 800 or 1600, the camera turned out some good images for a small sensor camera. It would appear that Samsung have broken the hoodoo over their image quality.

The camera handles very well as I mentioned earlier. The flip screen is of the AMOLED variety that Samsung ha been using lately. And it is excellent. It is bright and has fairly accurate colour which is what you want on your LCD.

The user interface is ok, but here is where I have serious reservations. For the most part,  the options, settings and buttons are approximately where you expect to find them. But on occasion, we could ot for the life of us, find something we wanted.

One of those was how to turn the flash on. As it was, we had an option for smart mode within one of the menus turned on, and this would not allow the flash to fire. It was so frustrating, we nearly threw the camera into the bay. You actually need to read the entire manual before you use the Samsung EX1. We eventually found how to turn the flash on.

However, we then encountered another problem. Because we spent so much time on the menus, our battery life had shortened dramatically. From a near full battery, we ended up being able to take only 40 photos.

We kid you not. This probably had to do with the fact we had the camera on and were stuffing around trying to work the flash out. Nevertheless, I’ve done this with other cameras and not had such lousy battery life. I would feel though, that next time, we might actually do better. I would definably be grabbing a second battery immediately with the EX1.

In terms of value, the EX1 is cheaper than the Panasonic LX5 and the Canon G12… by a large margin. Once you work out some of the quirks, the EX1 is a very good little camera and is starts with that 24mm f1.8 lens.

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