Kathy is a real estate agent and the little Nikon p&S she used went defunct with a cracked lcd so she needed a new compact for taking pix of houses (inside and out). She asked what I would recommend up to $300 and after doing some research of course I suggested a camera that would broaden our household camera range. I happily use a Canon PowerShot G11 as a “take everywhere” camera but the Samsung EX2F sports a fast f1.4-2.7 24-80mm (equiv) Scheinder lens. While the tele range is useless for wildlife, the wide end is super for street photography. It also has WiFi and is obviously, a several generation newer camera. It is 12mp, has a very nice AMOLED screen that flips out and swivels (nice!), three speeds of “burst” mode and built in hdr and panorama functions. The camera is essentially the same size as the G11 but feels smaller because the body itself is only about an inch thick. The lens protrusion makes it the same depth as the G11. For a compact camera, this one’s magnesium body gives it a very substantial, professional feel, yet it is quite light at 294g. Maybe not pocketable, but will just about fit in a beltloop cell phone case.
Of course the main attraction here is the fast lens. So after doing a few shots at the local greenmarket on a very cold day, I went out to test the camera’s abilities after dark. The first thing I noticed about shooting with the EX2F is the improvement in responsivness. Although the G11 has very little shutter lag and rarely hunts focus, the Samsung is an improvement over that and in my limited testing seems about as fast as my Nikon DSLR’s. With the short focal length lens, stopping down to f7 at 24mm would provide plenty of DoF for zone focusing. As would be expected, the Scheinder lens boasts excellent optical performance. Evening photographs with bright lights against dark skies show virtually no chromatic aberration (purple fringing). This in itself is quite a feat as even some of my Nikkors cannot make this claim. I am not one who likes doing empirical tests, so I have no target reports. However, images shot at moderate apertures of f4.5 appear sharp corner to corner. Here is a cropped section of an image showing the clean tones without fringing.
The small 7.44×5.58mm CMOS sensor, while not the largest in the class, produces noise-free images up to ISO 400. With the fast f1.4 lens there may be little need for more than ISO 400. As with any camera, proper exposure goes a long way toward mitigating noise. While both the Fujifilm X10 and Sony RX100 sport larger sensors (8.8×6.6mm and 13.2×8.8mm respectively) The Fuji costs $150 more and the Sony is nearly twice as expensive. The maximum aperture of both of those models is one stop less than the EX2F and neither have an articulated monitor (although the Fuji has an optical viewfinder like that Canon PowerShot G series)
The 3″ AMOLED is bright and has excellent resolution. Being articulated makes the camera easy to use at waistlevel and is a definite plus. The menu structure is logical and well thought out. A small dial on the front of the camera below the shutter release is used to select aperture or shutter speed when in A or S mode. Pressing the FN button on the rear of the camera brings up a screen with shooting controls such as ISO, exposure compensation, quality, focus area, white balance, etc. as well as summoning the built-in ND filter and various effects filters. The designers obviously put a lot of thought into the EX2F’s ergonomics. After using the camer for a couple hours it felt comfortable and easy to shoot with.
The small pop-up flash is nice to have but early testing reveals that it’s main use would be for filling shadows in daylight. Don’t expect to light a group photo of a dozen family members, but there is a hot shoe for an accessory flash.
I can only find two drawbacks to the camera other than the lack of an optical viewing system; one easy to solve and one inconvenient. As shipped, the camera allows for in-camera charging only. The battery is removable though, and there are inexpensive third party charger-battery kits available online. While on the battery, it is only rated for about 240 images so a spare would be a good idea. But any of us who are serious about photography always have at least ONE extra battery…don’t we? The other drawback is the placement of the wi-fi selector at the outer edge of the rear control dial. It is easy to hit with your thumb and escaping from the wi-fi dialog box requires pressing the trash button and a 3-second wait. One other item I wish the camera manufacturers would address is a filter thread at the front of the lens. The EX2F cannot be powered on without removing the lens cap…and then you have that beautiful glass vulnerable to the world. But this is the case with most enthusiast compacts, not only this one. There is a tube available that will fit over the lens of the EX2F and allow for 52mm filters (same size as Nikon primes) but it has to be long enough to accommodate the tele lens extension and thereby undoes the compactness of the camera.
A couple nice provisions are the ability to select aspect ratio in-camera (4:3, 3:2 and 16:9) and the ability to turn of all sounds.
In closing, The Samsung EX2F is a solid camera with excellent optics that won’t break the bank, providing shooters a great take-everywhere camera and saving $$’s for the big camera. The fast and wide lens is great for street photography and produces images that are clean and sharp from corner to corner. The CMOS sensor while small, produces noise-free images up to ISO 400 when properly exposed. I am seriously contemplating a 24mm optical viewfinder to slide into the hot shoe making this a “poor man’s Leica’. Kathy bought her Samsung EX2F at amazon.com for $349 US with free shipping.
Here are my first images.