Samsung EX2F Design
The Samsung EX2F is constructed from what Samsung claims is ‘high-intensity’ magnesium alloy. In the hand it certainly feels solid enough with a reassuring weight to it too. The body is rectangular in shape and slightly elongated, which gives the articulated LCD screen plenty of room to breathe while still allowing room for a range of buttons to be positioned on the right-hand side of the screen. These buttons include a D-pad that also offers direct access to Wi-Fi, Flash, Macro mode and Display controls. This is encircled by a control wheel that can be used to control or navigate various shooting functions, as well as Menu, Playback, Delete and a Function (Fn) button that can be assigned to a range of duties.
On top of the camera you’ll find not one, but two mode dials side-by-side. The first of these is used to control the camera’s various exposure modes, with the other one controlling the EX2F’s drive mode. Ideally we’d like to have the ability to customise this second dial, so that we could assign it to something like exposure compensation, however the fact that Samsung has seen fit to offer so much direct control over the camera via physical buttons without having to resort to the in-camera menu is certainly welcomed.
On the front of the camera near the top of the rubberised handgrip there’s also another control wheel that can be used to change various settings on the fly while shooting. While this dial is certainly useful for controlling, say, aperture when the camera is being used in Aperture-priority mode it could really do with being a bit stiffer; we found it quite easy to accidentally move it while shooting.
One thing we weren't quite so convinced by was the grooved ring around the lens. At a first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking that it has some kind of functionality that allows you to control some aspect of the camera with. However, this isn't actually the case and under closer inspection it’s simply there for protection, unscrewing to reveal an adapter thread underneath. We were also slightly disappointed not to see Samsung’s i-Function technology incorporated on the EX2F as this is something the company has implemented well on many of its higher end cameras and CSCs. These are just minor quibbles though to what is otherwise a very well thought-out and pleasingly designed camera.
Samsung EX2F Performance
In terms of performance there isn’t much to fault the Samsung EX2F on, and in general it provides a pretty satisfying user experience. There are a couple of minor issues we should mention though. While the EX2F’s start-up time is pretty respectable, shooting speeds are a bit on the slow side – especially when you’re using the camera to shoot Raw images with. If you stick with JPEG capture, then there is little in the way of any noticeable delay between shots. But in Raw or especially Raw JPEG capture, you’ll often find yourself waiting for the buffer to clear until your ready to shoot again. And, as with most digital cameras, while the buffer is clearing the EX2F locks up, meaning you can’t shoot or change any of the settings.
While the EX2F’s image processing from shot to shot isn’t the quickest the AF system is generally pretty good, with fast and accurate performances – especially in good light. In addition, you can also choose to use the camera in manual focus mode should you wish to.
Samsung EX2F Image Quality
Overall image quality is, on the whole, impressive. The Samsung EX2F’s slightly larger than average 1/1.7-inch sensor is able to capture quite a wide dynamic range – at least by compact camera standards – with shadow detail remaining visible without having to sacrifice too much in the way of highlights. As a result of this, images produced by the EX2F have a pleasingly even tonal range and appear natural straight out of the camera.
As is usually the case, JPEG files come out sharper than their Raw counterparts, and tend to show more in the way of contrast too. On the flipside, Raw files preserve more in the way of fine detail due to the lack of processing, although they can of course be sharpened to your own tastes at the post processing stage. Raw files also tend to suffer more from fringing. Again, this is something that can be rectified in a digital darkroom.
ISO performance is one area where the EX2F impresses. As might be expected, when used at its lower sensitivity settings the EX2F produces crisp, noise free images. However, used at higher settings the camera is still able to produce usable results right up to ISO 3200.
Samsung EX2F Verdict
The Samsung EX2F is a richly featured advanced compact that builds on the strengths of its predecessor to produce an impressive little camera. From the super-fast f/1.4 lens to Raw capture, and from the impressive AMOLED screen to the camera’s built-in Wi-Fi functionality the EX2F is just about everything an advanced compact should be. In truth we only really have a couple of minor complaints; the image processing is a bit slow and can hold you back, and there are a couple of questionable button placements but these are only minor faults really. Overall, the Samsung EX2F is a great little advanced compact that fully deserves your consideration alongside the traditional heavyweights of the market.