Since Samsung's last foray into the advanced compact space with the EX1, there's been plenty of new models vying for attention. The EX2F is a considerable update from its predecessor, and looks to have the chops to go head-to-head with the big guns in the category.
Design and features
The first thing noticeable about the EX2F is its heft. Weighing in at 286 grams without a battery, it's certainly a substantial camera. However, this is due to its magnesium alloy construction, which lends it an air of durability and is something we welcome on high-end compact cameras.
Buttons and dials around the back have a similarly refined feel. Though small, the rear buttons have a satisfying response, and there's an instant-on record button for shooting video, as well. A pop-up flash provides enough throw to reach over the 3.3x optical zoom lens, while a hotshoe means an external flash can also be added for a bit more power.
At the top, things also look a little different from a standard compact camera. There's not one, but two mode dials. The first is a traditional PASM dial, which also gives you access to automatic, movie, scene and Wi-Fi modes. The second dial houses a range of controls, from bracketing options, and high-speed burst modes to self-timer and pre-capture mode. It takes a while to get accustomed to the positioning, but once you're used to flicking the dial rather than going into several layers of menus to change these features, you realise how intuitive and useful this is. The implementation of Wi-Fi is excellent, and exactly the same as found on the NX20. Click through to read about how this feature works and you can download the Android or iOS apps for MobileLink.
Click through for more hands-on photos and videos of the EX2F. (Credit: CBSi)
To change exposure options (there is full manual control on this camera), there is one dial at the front, and the rotating wheel around the four-way directional pad acts as the other.
Apart from all the physical options on the body, what makes the EX2F reasonably unique is its f/1.4 lens. This means that at the lens' widest end (24mm), it can let in a whole lot of light, ideal for low-light shooting and obtaining shallow depth-of-field effects. While it's not a constant f/1.4 lens (we can dream), the aperture closes down fairly evenly as the focal length increases, finally hitting f/2.7 at the 3.3x zoom extreme.
Elsewhere, the 3-inch AMOLED screen proves its worth by being a flip-out configuration, ideal for self-portraits or shooting tricky angles. While there is no control ring around the front of the camera for changing common shooting options, like on cameras such as the RX100 or Canon S100, the ring is textured and can be removed to attach a range of lens converters. A built-in neutral density (ND) filter helps users control exposure more finely.
|Sony Cyber-shot RX100||Samsung EX2F||Canon PowerShot S100||Panasonic LX7|
|20.2-megapixel CMOS sensor (1-inch)||12.4-megapixel backlit CMOS sensor (1/1.7-inch)||12.1-megapixel CMOS sensor (1/1.7-inch)||10.1-megapixel high sensitivity MOS sensor (1/1.63-inch)|
|3-inch, 1.2-million-dot (VGA resolution) LCD||3-inch, flip-out 614,000-dot AMOLED||3-inch, 461,000-dot LCD||3-inch, 920,000-dot LCD|
|3.6x optical zoom, 28mm wide-angle||3.3x optical zoom, 24mm wide-angle||5x optical zoom, 24mm wide-angle||3.8x optical zoom, 24mm wide-angle|
|Aperture range f/1.8-4.9||Aperture range f/1.8-2.5||Aperture range f/1.4-2.7||Aperture range f/1.4-2.3|
|Full HD video (AVCHD/MP4, 1080p)||Full HD video (Motion JPEG, 1080p)||Full HD video (H.264, 1080p)||Full HD video (AVCHD/MP4, 1080p)|
General shooting metrics (in seconds)
- Start-up to first shot
- JPEG shot-to-shot time
- RAW shot-to-shot time
- Shutter lag
Panasonic Lumix LX5
Canon PowerShot S100
Sony Cyber-shot RX100
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Continuous shooting speed (in frames per second)
Sony Cyber-shot RX100
Panasonic Lumix LX5
Canon PowerShot S100
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Samsung rates the battery at 240 shots, though the battery does deplete more quickly when using features like Wi-Fi connectivity. The EX2F has three different continuous shooting speed modes. The 10 frames per second mode (fps) — as measured above — can only capture 10 shots before stopping to process them. Other options include 5 and 3fps modes.
Samsung has done a lot to slowly refine image quality on its compacts, culminating in the EX2F. Thanks to the larger sensor and bright f/1.4 lens, it's able to gather a lot more light, which definitely helps mitigate noise issues at low ISO levels. In daylight situations, the EX2F can produce some excellent, clear and sharp shots.
Because the lens is so wide, there is, naturally, a fair amount of distortion at this extreme. It can be corrected in post-processing, but is something to be aware of if you shoot a lot of buildings, architecture or similar scenes. Similarly, at the telephoto end of the lens, there is a small issue with noise and detail becomes slightly smeared. The sweet spot seems to be in the middle of the focal length range, around 35mm.
A comparison of the RAW and JPEG images delivered by the EX2F, with 100 per cent crops inset.
When shooting on default settings, colour rendition on JPEG images reviewed on a computer, is not as vibrant as you are led to believe when reviewing on the AMOLED screen. However, shooting in RAW produces slightly more colour-accurate shots; it seems as if the JPEG processing removes a little of the vibrancy.
While you might be tempted to shooting constantly at f/1.4, do be aware that the shallow depth-of-field means that only a very small area of the shot will appear to be in focus — so don't be shocked when reviewing images. Also, the minimum focusing distance (40 centimetres at the wide end) leaves quite a bit to be desired.
Video quality has been much improved over what we've seen from previous Samsung compacts, with good sound definition from the stereo microphones and a clear, sharp image, even when zoomed in to the 3.3x extreme of the optical zoom.
Exposure: 1/180, f/8.5, ISO 80
Exposure: 1/500, f/3.6, ISO 80
Exposure: 1/15, f/2.2, ISO 400
Exposure: 1/45, f/3.1, ISO 200
The EX2F is Samsung's best compact camera yet. While it's not quite smashing the ball out of the park on image quality, it does do very well on the spec sheet, including useful features like a dual mode dial and a flip-out AMOLED screen..