Samsung TL500/EX1 Review

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


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