Saturday, June 5, 2010

Mini review of Samsung TL 500 a.k.a. Samsung EX1 - best point and shoot camera so far

Here's the bottom line. Samsung TL 500 is the best pocket camera in the market at the moment. If you are thinking of getting the Canon S90, think again. It sucks donkey balls in comparison. Many people seem to be deciding between those two cameras. Samsung TL 500 feels like a really well made camera after using Canon S90 which feels like a cheap plastic toy. Buttons, finish, menu, usability and overall build quality is way better than Canon S90 or any point and shoot for that matter.





My previous digital pocket cam was a Canon S90. After it had been serviced two times for a shutter failure, I thought it was time to try another camera. I filed a complaint about it and got my money back which was enough to get the Samsung TL500. There weren't other interesting choices. Canon had very good image quality and exposures ware spot on every time (before the shutter failed). Build quality and feel however was a different matter.



I don't have experience on every camera on the market but I have had few to know what counts. Before the Canon S90 I had: Canon Digital Ixus V, Fujifilm F30, Ricoh GX100, Konica Minolta Dynax 5D, Konica Minolta Dimage Z3, Epson R-D1, Yashicamat 124G, Yashica Electro 35G, Voigtländer Bessa R, Voigtländer Bessa R3A, Leica M6 (twice), Leica CL, Kiev 60 (twice), Mamiya M645 1000S, Polaroid Land Camera, Polaroid 600 SE, Plaubel Makina 67, Minolta Dynax 9000, Lomo Fisheye, Canon EOS 5D (twice), Nikon D700, Leica M8. I mainly shoot with Leica M9 at the moment.



I want to get one 'issue' of my chest, the viewfinder. This camera doesn't have one and it shouldn't either. All of you guys wanting a good optical viewfinder in a compact pocket camera are just hell of a stupid. I had Canon Digital Ixus V back in the 2001. It had optical viewfinder and it sucked big time although it's still a relatively good camera. Viewfinders are just small pinholes on point and shoots. It's just physically impossible to have a big viewfinder in a small camera if you want it to fit in a pocket. If you want a good optical viewfinder in a camera get a DSLR or get over it.



The screen is simply excellent. I thought Canon S90 had a good screen but this is even better. I haven't found much use for the swiveling feature though. First I thought that will be a great feature but it's quite difficult to compose the shot if the screen is not level with the sensor. Maybe I should just use it more to get used to it.



Exposure compensation can be adjusted with right hand index finger with a roll control on the front of the camera. I like it a lot, it is intuitive and fast. Metering mode and other important controls are also easily accessible and I haven't had the need to read any instructions yet. Ricoh GX100 had good controls and usability but this is even better.



Samsung TL 500 has a nice feature in the Software that allows pictures to be edited in camera. All the smart filters and styles can be applied after the picture have been taken. Most post processing is best to be done on the computer but some basic stuff is nice to do in camera when relaxing on the sofa instead of sitting in front of the computer.



High ISO pictures are very nice up to ISO 800. ISO 1600 is usable and probably cleans up nicely with noise reduction in post processing. ISO 800 with that f/1.8 lens and image stabilization goes a long way though. Picture quality over all is very good in my opinion and I can imagine even making exhibition prints with this camera. ISO 1600 pictures converted to black and white show noise as fine grain which looks like a good black and white film.



Only thing I don't like with the Samsung is the separate lens cap. I think it should be integrated with the lens. Another thing I miss from some of my previous point and shoot cameras is the step zoom. It would be nice to be able to set focal length to classic values like 28mm, 35mm, 50mm etc. Ricoh GX100 and Canon S90 had that.



There's no 100% crops in this post but there are high ISO pictures and pictures with some of the smart filter modes like 'miniature' and 'vignetting',  all taken in real world situations. I liked the vignetting mode so much that I shot most pictures with it. It reminds me of Lomo LC-A. All processing to the pictures below have been done by the camera. I only resized them to web. Feel free comment.





This picture has 'miniature' and 'vignetting' smart filters applied in camera.


























































































































































Kitchen still life at ISO 800














More kitchen still life at ISO 800














I went to this parking garage just to shoot some high ISO as it was a bright day. This one was shot at ISO 800.














ISO 1600.














ISO 1600.














ISO 1600.






















36 comments:

  1. Markus PuustinenJune 5, 2010 at 10:29 PM

    By the way, I shot only JPG because RAW is for pussies.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What’s that great big fat grippy ring around the lens base for? Focus, or zoom, or assignable to either?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Markus PuustinenJune 6, 2010 at 7:52 AM

    I haven't checked the manual but I think it's just for style and grip because it doesn't seem to rotate or move in any way.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The ring around the lens base (called the "Camera Ring" in the manual) unscrews with some gentle force. I figure it's to allow for the attachment of the optional Conversion Lens.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Markus PuustinenJune 6, 2010 at 6:26 PM

    Ok, apparently there's a reason for everything.

    Does anyone know where to get accessories designed for this camera?

    ReplyDelete
  6. What a great images you took! I like the picture quality. Nice job!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Markus PuustinenJune 7, 2010 at 4:43 PM

    Thank you for your comment!

    ReplyDelete
  8. nice pictures regardless of the camera

    ReplyDelete
  9. To say "raw is for pussies" is to have never seen the difference between a good conversion, a bad conversion and an out-of-camera jpeg. If you want to see how much ACR and Raw Magick Lite differ from each other I could send you small crops to compare. :)

    PS: It's a shame, though, that at the moment RML doesn't support the EX1.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Markus PuustinenJune 8, 2010 at 8:57 PM

    Yes, that was an provocative overstatement. I understand that many can get better results with RAW but I suck at post processing and even JPG have more than I need.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks for a really helpful review. I appreciate how passionate and opinionated you are and it's very helpful to have an experienced photographer's gut response to using a camera. Your photographs are beautiful and it definitely helps to know that you normally shoot with such expensive and well regarded cameras. While you have not found yourself using the articulated display, there are times when they really help frame a shot (when shooting high, low or around corners).

    ReplyDelete
  12. Nice Shots! You have really helped me make a decision regarding this camera vs 'the rest of the likes.' Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hei,

    Onko ko. kamerassa kierteitä filttereitä, ja jos on niin mikä kokoinen


    Aro

    ReplyDelete
  14. Ei ole perinteistä suodinkierrettä, mutta linssin juuressa on jokin kierre ilmeisesti laajakulma-adapterille. Siihen mahdollisesti saa kiinni muitakin roippeita, mutta noista Samsungin lisävarusteista en ole löytänyt mitään tietoa.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hei,

    Onko tuossa fisheye-optio, joka väärentää normaalin kuvan kalansilmäksi, vaikkei olisikaan mikä lisäke ja olisiko kuvaa sillein otettuna?

    ReplyDelete
  16. Markus PuustinenJune 12, 2010 at 3:48 PM

    Juu tai siinä on sellainen kalansilmä-efekti, mutta se näyttää tosi kököltä. Voin laittaa esimerkkikuvan esille vaikka seuraavaan postaukseen.

    ReplyDelete
  17. [...] No siksi, koska Mikullakin on sellainen ja mun mielikuvissa EX1 oli ensimmäinen pokkari, jossa palikat on suurin piirtein [...]

    ReplyDelete
  18. Nice review and great shots, thanks!
    And comments are fun too. Keep rockin'!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Marcos, thanks for a helpful review!
    I've got a question: does Samsung EX1 have a manual focus and, if yes, how is it in use?

    Thanks in advance!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Markus PuustinenJune 17, 2010 at 9:06 PM

    Yes it does have manual focus. It magnifies the view and focus can be adjusted by turning the rear dial. I haven't used it enough to form an opinion.

    ReplyDelete
  21. [...] Wa voor lenzen wilt ge mss? Ge moet al vrij speciale wensen hebben dat ge een lens niet zou vinden op uw systeem. (die micro 4/3 is net nieuw en natuurlijk zijn er nog niet zoveel lenzen als canon EF dat al 25 jaar bestaat, maar er komen er zeker nog bij, zelfde voor de andere merken) Sony nex 3 + 24mm 2.8 lens kost 500 euro denk ik, das niezo duur. De micro 4/3 cameras Pen1, EPl1 en GF1 zijn allemaal rond de 500 euro zonder lens. Samsung NX10 is vrij duur denk ik. De NX5 zal goedkoper zijn. Een dslr gaat nooit klein zijn. Al vallen de kleinste wel mee. Pentax Kx ofzo heeft toch nog voordelen tegenover die nieuwe cameras. Alleen is de camera iets groter en vooral de lenzen zijn groter. Wa het gewicht van een fotograaf zijn kit enorm verhoogt. Zou enkel een dslr kopen als ge echt snelheid enz nodig hebt Waarvoor gij het gaat gebruiken zijn ze meer dan voldoende denk ik, da zou met een samsung EX1 mss ook wel lukken. Zo slecht is die niet. Review of Samsung TL 500 / EX1 with lots of pictures, high ISO | Photoblog of Mr. Markus Puustinen [...]

    ReplyDelete
  22. They are great shots. Pictures in high ISO look good.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Sunando MazumdarJuly 15, 2010 at 7:46 AM

    I hav'nt experienced this cam but the reviews and specifications are making me feel like buying it as soon as possible.Lot of people are commenting on the poor quality of video, but in my opinion a still cam should be a still cam only.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Thank you for the review and the pics. I've been researching this camera and your sexy review has inspired me to purchase. You should get a commission.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Cheers my friend I was undecided on this camera but your pictures did the talking! Often no need for technical appraisal.

    ReplyDelete
  26. EX1 must be a good camera since it won the European Adanced Compact Camera 2010~2011 award.
    http://www.samsungimaging.net/2010/08/16/the-european-advanced-compact-camera-2010-2011-from-eisa-samsung-ex1tl500/

    ReplyDelete
  27. hi, very interesting Samsung review, this camera has astonished to me for quality and ductility, I am undecided: Samsung EX1 VS Panasonic LX5... a your opinion?

    thanx

    greetings from Rimini
    Italy

    ReplyDelete
  28. I was thinking of getting this camera too.
    thanks for the review, its helps :D

    ReplyDelete
  29. I have to say that your images are amazing, i'm really thinking of buying the EX1 instead the pana LX5 which was my first choice...

    Great review :)

    ReplyDelete
  30. Worst thing on this camera is VIDEO. This camera is almost not able of sharp focus during video!! If focus at all, then only on the distance in the moment of movie start sequence. When you move camera in the different distance or use zoom all is out of focus. What a shame!!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Hi Markus, great review, a question, how do you apply 2 filters in your jpgs, I can only choose one between miniature, vignetting and 2 others, do you apply one during your shot, and the second in the camera options?

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Yes, usually I hade maybe vignetting on and then added miniature after the shot was taken. I also took some pictures without any filters and then added couple of filters afterwards.

    ReplyDelete
  33. After a month with EX-1, I agree with Markus in every respect. I have been told always to use RAW (as everybody else is, I'm sure) but the jpg engine in EX-1 does so good that I have found myself shooting more and more jpg's - I don't like the computer job, either.

    The lens cap is really a pain in the ass. Luckily, eBay has better options:
    http://cgi.ebay.de/Auto-Lens-Cap-ALC-6-compatible-for-SAMSUNG-EX1-TL500-/110600079643?pt=UK_Photography_DigitalCamAccess_RL&hash=item19c047491b

    While on it, why not have a nice belt case, too:
    http://cgi.ebay.de/UK-New-Samsung-TL500-EX1-EX-1-EX-1-Camera-Case-Brown-/330462853376?pt=UK_CamerasPhoto_CameraAccessories_BagsCases_JN&hash=item4cf11ef900

    And, if you feel a need for filter and/or lens shade:
    http://www.lensmateonline.com/store/samsung_TL500_EX1.php

    ReplyDelete
  34. Great shots man. What a little champ is this samsung.. keep on shouting

    ReplyDelete
  35. Nice shot. I just ordered the TL500 for myself. Can't wait to try it.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...