Samsung Samsung TL500 (also known as the EX1) my ongoing review (updated 10-14)

About a month ago I was talking with my Mom and she was complaining that I don;t send her enough pics of her Grandkids. I told her I was hoping that Santa would bring me a nice compact camera I could carry with me easily so I could take more pics. Well she told me she did not want to wait that long and told me that she would buy it for me now :D

I narrowed down my choices to the Sigma DP1s and the Samsung TL500. The Sigma has a decent lens and an amazing sensor, while the Samsung has an amazing lens and a decent sensor. I decided to go for the Sigma DP1s as Amazon had them for a very good price, however they were out of stock and have been for a while now, so that made me go for the Samsung as I got tired of waiting.

Well the UPS guy came and delivered it today and I wanted to share my first impressions with you. First off the camera feels like a tank. It has a solid metal body and feels very sturdy. All of the controls seem very well laid out and the menu system is very easy to figure out.

One of the best things with the camera is its very fast lens. It is f/1.8 on the wide end and f/2.4 on the long with a 24-72mm equiv zoom. The lens is made by Schneider which is a very respected German lens company right up there with Zeiss and Leica.

The other very nice thing with this camera is the Amoled Screen. It is very big, very bright, and very clear. It also pivots and swivels out and around, and you can flip it backwards when you not using it to prtect the screen when it is in your pocket.

I did not really get a chance tonight after work to do any real shooting, but I am taking the family to the Zoo tomorrow and plan on putting it through the paces, so stay tuned


betwixt and between
Wallace - I'm sorry I missed your big news yesterday! Congratulations and thank you so much for starting your ongoing review - I can't wait to read more about the camera and will look forward to seeing some of your first shots, too!


Hall of Famer
I'm looking forward to your ongoing review as well! I have an EX1 on loan from B&H, and I've been more than impressed with this camera. As you said, the lens and screen are top notch. Class leading. The controls are very straightforward and easy. It's a great effort from Samsung.
Ok back from the Zoo now. We went to the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium which is about 2.5 hours away from here. Very long day and I need to get to bed, but I thought I would share some thoughts. Over all I am very pleased with the camera. I shot in RAW mode only. Since I have not upgraded to Lightroom 3 and still use Lightroom 2.7 it can not read the Samsung RAW files, but the free Adobe DNG converter is able to convert them over to DNG which my older version of Lightroom has no issue with. Doing so drops the files size down from 22mb or so to around 11 or 12. Samsung must be embedding a very large JPG in the RAW files which Adobe is striping out.

Some quick thoughts
1.)Get extra batteries. I have two and used both of them. Each one lasted about 2 to 2.5 hours of pretty constant use of the screen and zoom and IS on the lens all of which use a bunch of power. The battery meter was not very accurate as it reads full then very quickly dropped from full to empty, then the camera shuts down in about 5 minutes.

2.)Do not use Auto ISO as it always seemed to want to go to 80iso. The files are very clean from 400 down so I plan on leaving it on 400 to get a faster shutter speed unless I run into the situation below in point #3.

3.)The lens is very fast and the maximum shutter speed is 1/1500. In bright light it is very easy to over expose if using a high ISO so watch the live histogram and turn down the ISO and/or aperture.

4.)Camera's meter seems to err a bit towards over exposure by about 1/3 to 1/2 a stop so I turned it down which is very easy to do

5.)Autofocus is very good, and the camera seemed pretty fast

6.)By 800iso you start getting noise, at 1600 and 3200 you get a LOT of noise but is no worse than other cameras I have used

7.)Pictures are 4/3 not the standard 4/6 of a 35mm frame. This is not a big deal to me as I like to crop everything to 4x5 ratio anyway as I love to make 8x10 prints
3200iso sample

3200iso sample.jpg

this was taken in the Aquarium section of the Zoo. It was in near darkness, it has lots of noise but would have been unshootable without the fast lens and high ISO. Most compact cameras could not have pulled this off
Macro Sample


The macro works very well. This was shot at f/1.8 with an iso of 80. If I had to do this over I would have changed the ISO from auto which wanted to shoot this at 80iso to 400 and stopped down a bit. This would give me a higher shutter speed and/or more DOF which is important with macro work
Video Sample


This is a video clip from the Zoo. It was taken in the underwater viewing tunnel in the polar bear area. Several review sights knocked the camera for not offering HD video. For me this camera is not really about having a hybrid Camcorder and Still Camera and if I wanted to shoot HD video I would use a camcorder.

Having said that, this camera is great for recording short clips for the web where HD is not needed and the resulting smaller file size is perfect



A few observations:

If you are basing this battery life and this was your first or second time you charged it don't despair. I was out the other day and shot around 320 photos and the battery life had just gone down to the 2 bar level, this was with the IS on, LCD on and and camera on in between captures 75% of the time. It did go down quickly on the first couple of charges however (less than 200).

Another way to watch for overexposure is to watch the colour of the shutter speed text, if it is in red it is over the 1/1500th max (blue is good), I am sure you have noticed this but it may be helpful to others. I ordered an adapter tube and a nice ND8 filter to help get around this limitation, also to use the camera at wider apertures in bright light.

With respect to the file dimensions, you can choose to shoot in the 3:2 format (still Raw) right in the camera, it is the 9mp setting. That makes it easier to compose right at the time of exposure rather than doing it in post. For those interested there is also a 16:9 Raw format and a 1:1 Raw format, all very useful!

Happy Shooting!


New Member
View attachment 846

The macro works very well. This was shot at f/1.8 with an iso of 80. If I had to do this over I would have changed the ISO from auto which wanted to shoot this at 80iso to 400 and stopped down a bit. This would give me a higher shutter speed and/or more DOF which is important with macro work

This has been a bit of a complaint recently with Samsung's cameras. Their auto iso, shutter & aperture shoot for quality vs just getting a decent blur-free image. I have a Canon 7D and it takes the opposite approach. All my auto iso shots seem to shoot all the way up to 3200 in poor to moderate light. Camera manufacturers seem to have a tough time with the middle ground.


Well I have been shooting with it a bit more over the last few weeks. One thing I really like is the incredible DOF you get when you set the lens for its widest setting. It seems like in the DSLR world the movement is for very shallow DOF, that has it's place of course but the super deep DOF you can get with a camera like this is amazing. Like in these shots from a recent Washington Redskins Football Game I went to



I have found that the color right out of the camera is pretty much spot on. I took a drive out with the family to find some fall color and was very pleased. I also find the manual controls to be very nice and that enabled me to get the shot of the clouds without blowing out the highlights


betwixt and between
Thanks, Wally - just keep them coming in that nice big size. I have to go look for the black and white version over on Flickr.;)

We've got an interesting thread going regarding which works better on certain photos - Color or B & W. Sometimes there is no easy answer, or the answer is both work.

P.S. Just took a quick look at your blog - that "No Fishing" sign is priceless!