The Panasonic LX3 has been an absolute revelation. Its combination of a relatively compact body, full manual controls, 24mm wide-angle and super fast f2.0 lens, and amazing image quality, made for a camera that blew our minds when it first arrived. However, were we to really nit pick then there are a few areas where we could see room for improvement and it seems like Samsung has been reading our minds...
The Korean giant has just announced the EX1, a high-end compact camera that takes the LX3 formula and turns it up to 11. The lens, while still starting at 24mm, has a slightly longer range, stretching to 72mm (3x) as opposed to 60mm (2.5x) on the LX3. It also trumps the LX3 for maximum aperture which ranges from f1.8 at 24mm to f2.4 at 72mm. Perhaps of most appeal, though, is the inclusion of a 3in flip-and-twist AMOLED screen making this an incredibly versatile shooting tool.
Other bits and bobs include a pop up flash, full manual controls with two dedicated adjustment dials, and a standard hot shoe for auxiliary flashes and other accessories. Like the LX3 it uses a 10-megapixel sensor, albeit a slightly smaller 1/1.7in one compared to the 1/1.63 of the LX3. There is one major fly in the ointment, though: video is not HD, only VGA. This won't be a deal breaker for everyone but it does seem like a major oversight.
Being out at Samsung's European Forum, we had a chance to actually play with the EX1 and we were very impressed. It's easier to handle than the LX3 thanks to a hefty textured grip and a more intuitive button and dial layout, though it is of course a fairly large camera compared to most compacts. The flip out screen also helps for keeping the camera steady when shooting video. Build quality didn't seem to be quite on the same level despite a full metal body, but the display model was pre-production.
It was next to impossible to really access image quality given the limited subject matter and time we had with the camera. However, from our quick play it seemed as good as we would hope. Of course, we'll look to get a sample in as soon as possible and will give it the full once over then. And, being that it will be hitting the shops in April, we hope that will be sooner rather than later. You can expect to pay £399.99 when it does arrive.