Review Date: July 30, 2010
Category: Serious Amateur
This Samsung TL500 / EX1 Review is based on a production model. All sample images are unretouched, except where specified.
The Samsung TL500 / EX1 is a worthy competitor to existing compact system cameras. It is built well, has excellent handling, and looks professional in its black body. It has excellent image quality at the low ISOs and very good image quality up to ISO 400, and even ISO 800 (especially if you shoot in RAW).
The TL500 / EX1 has lots of dials and control buttons to make its operation intuitive. It’s one of those rare cameras that feels right as soon as you pick it up. Beware though, due to the limited real estate, the ISO and AEL can be easily and inadvertently changed / set, so you’ll need to be careful and keep an eye on the screen display.
The screen display is a beautiful 3.0-in. AMOLED that swivels. Those who read here regularly know that I only require an up position for low-to-the-ground and tripod shooting, but if you frequently find yourself shooting from all kinds of awkward angles, you’ll love the freedom of the swivelling screen.
Its F1.8 lens is one of the brightest around and, combined with the high sensitive sensor, makes the TL500 / EX1 a very capable low light shooter. The metering in low light sometimes tends toward overexposure, though advanced photographers will not be dissuaded by that, especially since RAW and a whole range of semi-auto and full manual shooting modes are available to deal with that. Curiously, Program Shift is not available.
If you are into HD movies, you won’t get it here since the TL500 / EX1 only records 640×480 pixels at 30fps with monaural sound. However, you can zoom during recording and a Zoom Mute feature automatically turns off the sound as soon as zooming is engaged so as not to record the zooming sound. When you stop zooming, sound is once again recorded.
The 3x optical zoom starts at a very useful and desirable ultra wide-angle 24mm equivalent. The 72mm tele is not much but is helpful to use as a macro tele.
The Samsung TL500 / EX1 is fast in acquiring focus and there is no shutter lag, but shot-to-shot time is on the slow side and it cannot shoot burst RAW. If you can live with its limitations, you’ll find a digital camera that is almost ideal in every other respect. Highly recommended.