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Samsung EX1 - Performance and Results

By Cliff Smith



Our Score:


The camera's overall performance is very good. It starts up and is ready to take a picture in a little over two seconds, and in single-shot JPEG mode it takes approximately two seconds per shot, or three in Raw mode. However Samsung has applied its usual annoying shutter control logic, whereby if you press the shutter button too quickly while the camera is starting up or processing the previous shot, it fails to register and you have to press it again. In continuous shooting mode it can manage approximately 1.5 frames a second, although raw shooting is not possible in continuous mode.

The autofocus system is also very fast and accurate, focusing in a fraction of a second at all focal lengths and most lighting conditions. Low light focusing is especially good, and the EX1 has a good bright AF assist lamp with a range of several metres.

The overall image quality is certainly very good. The faster shutter speeds made available by the f/1.8 lens mean reduced camera shake and motion blur, and the narrow depth of field it provides is great for creative shots. The lens quality is as superb as its prestigious name would suggest, providing pin-sharp results from corner to corner, with virtually no barrel distortion or chromatic aberration even at the 24mm-equivalent wide end. The level of detail recorded is as good as anything in its class, as is dynamic range and colour depth.

The only slight stumble is the EX1's noise control at higher ISO settings. Comparing shots at 400 and 800 ISO directly with the Panasonic LX5, while the results are far from disappointing it's clear that Samsung still has some work to do in this area.

The crucial question is whether or not the Samsung EX1 is a viable alternative to the Canon G12 or Panasonic LX5, and I would say that for the vast majority of users the answer is a qualified yes. It offers similar performance, build quality and handling, almost the same level of versatility and creative control, and under most circumstances the image quality is also comparable. Its more expensive rivals do offer better image quality at higher ISO settings, but that is their only real advantage.


The Samsung EX1 is an outstanding camera by any standard, offering superior performance, build quality and handling, a high level of creative control and a good range of useful features. Under most circumstances its image quality is also superb, comparing well to its more expensive rivals. For a top-shelf compact it is surprisingly good value for money.


December 9, 2010, 9:49 pm

My better half is looking for a nice camera for her 30th (sorry, I mean 21st...) - something that can deal with the usual day to day family stuff but also something thats a little more technically capable.

Obviously pretty different beasts but how would this stack up as a cheaper alternative to

the Sony Nex-5? I would prefer her to get something that can also shoot 1080p video and I do think she would like something a little more "professional" (ie, a lens to fiddle with) but if it means she can also get some fancy handbag Im sure she'd go for something cheaper like this!!! Any advice would be welcome and I suspect you'll be glad this isn't a comment complaining about grammar or Apple rumours.


December 10, 2010, 1:15 am

Looks great, but where is it selling for £280? When I clicked on the Latest Price link I got a Product Not Found page.

Currently Amazon have this at £320 and the LX5 at £315.


December 10, 2010, 5:47 am

I have a NEX5 and it's a great camera and does benefit from interchangable lenses, HD video and stereo sound. With Sony's VAT back offer running 'till Christmas Eve it comes in at around £400-425. With cashback through the likes of Quidco/TopCashBack it's even cheaper, mine works out at £360.

Geoff Richards

December 10, 2010, 1:09 pm

@davidpublic: Pixmania, as listed under "Supplier" (we know that's a little confusing, but that's the system we have right now. I have fixed the Latest Price link, though Pixmania isn't part of that program so UKDigitalCameras is currently listed as cheapest (though more than PM)

@japester: since our comment moderation system only supports Approve or Decline and not Edit, I have declined your post. I accept that you may have had no problems buying your D90 from a certain retailer last year, but there are literally hundreds of nightmare posts littering the web from customers of those guys. The common theme is that they're really Hong Kong-based with a UK front. They take your order, which is then mysteriously delayed (the lack of true Next Day delivery is a tip off) as they use your money to order from the Far East and ship to their UK base before posting to you.

UK readers / customers are seemingly sold grey import / non-UK stock, which won't be covered by the manufacturers warranty.

Sometimes rock bottom cheap isn't always best, so we have decided to protect our readers by not linking to them. I hope that makes sense.


December 10, 2010, 3:25 pm

@Geoff: Fair do's. My D90 took an age to arrive - however it is a genuine UK stock item as verified by Nikon themselves. Maybe (and fortunatly) I was one of the lucky ones.... for a change! LOL

Hans Gruber

December 10, 2010, 10:32 pm

Simply Electronics have generally a very bad reputation, failing to deliver goods at all and making people wait ages and ages for their orders to arrive. They're also not based in the UK. They're not always the cheapest place either and personally after reading some very high profile threads at a number of prime photo and AV tech forums, would not personally use them. That said, it was this time last year I read so much negative publicity about them so perhaps they've mended their ways by now. It's a good idea to check first though.

Jacobs and Jessops both sell the camera for just shy of 300 squids. The advantage that you can walk into a store and be sure you can easily return items. I think that was about the best price I could find myself. I think both companies are signed up with the likes of cash back sites like Quidco too. You can also use CameraPriceBuster to check on prices though sadly not for Samsung equipment just yet.


December 11, 2010, 6:42 am

Thanks for the links.

Re the NEX-5. I currently have one of these. It's a well built camera, and capable of producing very good photos and video.

One gotcha with it is it's only compact if you use the 16mm lens, so if you want any kind of zoom, you'll either end up with a much bigger camera, or you'll end up carrying a separate lens around. Unless you're planning to (buy and) use different lenses, I'd guess something like this (the Samsung) is actually going to be more useful.


April 30, 2011, 4:32 pm

I have a Samsung EX1. From the point of view of someone leaving behind 34 years with the main camera being an SLR or a DSLR it is a very satisfying camera indeed. It's less challenging than the Olympus XZ-1, which I also have, and the lens performance and some other points are just one step behind the XZ-1's. But the basic operations, including an easy to use EV, are generally slightly quicker to access than on the XZ-1. I have a lot of seascape opportunities to exploit; the 24mm lens, the excellent rendition of the various blues in the sky and the sea and the easy corrections bring out the impression of enormous space that I so much love in seascapes. Autumn is going to be beautiful!

I see a lot of comments about screens these days. The Olympus XZ-1 has a fixed 3" AMOLED, which can always be viewed from an angle to get out of the way of the glare, and has a 15 seconds boost to its brightness. Samsung does better, still with a 3" AMOLED screen, but it is orientable and has three degrees of brightness to select, the default value being the least bright. Neither screen is ever difficult to use, with a little thought, but the Samsung is the easier of the two. There is a clip-on EVF available for the Olympus, but it costs as much as a reasonably good PAS...

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