Samsung EX2F: Performance

by Howard Creech Reads (3,505)
Editor's Rating
9.20

TG Ratings Breakdown

    • Image/Video Quality
    • 9
    • Features
    • 10
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 10
    • Performance
    • 9
    • Expandability
    • 8
    • Total Score:
    • 9.20
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Performance
The EX2F is a first rate general purpose point and shoot camera that will dependably produce excellent quality images and HD videos not only for photography enthusiasts and straight-shooters, but also for travelers, casual photographers, and snap-shooters as well.

Shooting Performance
Auto exposure in the smart auto and program modes is consistently and dependably accurate and impressively quick. The EX2F reliably chooses the appropriate shutter speed in aperture priority mode and the appropriate aperture in shutter speed priority mode. In manual mode exposure accuracy is completely dependent on the skill and experience of the shooter. 
The EX2F features a TTL Contrast Detection AF system with center AF, multi AF, selection AF, tracking AF, face detection AF, and smart face recognition AF modes. The EX2F’s AF system analyzes the scene in front of the lens and then calculates camera-to-subject distance when in default multi-AF mode to determine which AF point is closest to the primary subject. It then locks focus on that AF point. Press the shutter button half-way and the AF marks will turn green when focus is achieved or red if the AF system can’t achieve focus. The center AF option is super for portraits and traditional landscapes, but it is even better for street shooting since straight shooters don’t want the camera selecting which face in the crowd to focus on. AF is consistently quick and dependably accurate. 

Push the EX2F’s flash release slider switch and the pop-up flash deploys with a satisfyingly solid thump — there is also a standard hot shoe for mounting external flash units. The EX2F’s small multi mode pop-up flash provides an acceptable selection of artificial lighting options, including auto, auto & red-eye reduction, fill flash, slow sync, red-eye fix, and manual — plus flash exposure (+/- 2EV) compensation. According to Samsung, the maximum flash range is about 20 feet at auto ISO, which seems a bit optimistic given the small size of the unit. Based on my very limited flash use, the EX2F’s flash recycle time is between 4 and 5 seconds.

Stabilizing a camera that was designed to shoot in very low light is particularly important and Samsung’s product development folks rose to the challenge. The EX2F’s optical image stabilization system reduces blur by rapidly and precisely shifting an element in the Schneider zoom to compensate for minor camera movement. Image stabilization allows users to shoot at shutter speeds up to three f-stops slower than would have been possible otherwise. Image stabilization is also helpful when shooting in dimly lit indoor venues where flash is inappropriate or where flash use would be obvious when viewing the image. In really low light the dual IS option can be enabled which not only stabilizes the lens, but also boosts sensitivity and shutter speed to help shooters cope.
According to Samsung, the EX2F is good for about 260 exposures (without flash) or 130 minutes of video on a freshly charged 3.7 volt – 1,030 mAh SLB-10A rechargeable lithium-ion battery. That’s about average for cameras of this class.  The battery is charged inside the camera – an external AC charger isn’t included, but Samsung offers external chargers as optional accessories. The battery can be charged via a powered USB port on your computer or with the included AC charging cable.

The Samsung EX2F saves RAW, Jpeg, and HD video SD/SDHC/SDXC (and all versions of MicroSD with adaptors) memory media and provides 1GB of built-in image storage.

Lens Performance
The EX2F’s first-rate 3.3x true wide-angle to portrait telephoto zoom covers the focal length range most often used by “Straight Shooters” who tend to work in pretty close. The zoom was designed by legendary German lensmaker Schneider-Kreuznach and features a super fast f/1.4 maximum aperture (the fastest maximum aperture on ANY point and shoot), which makes it two full f-stops faster. It lets in four times as much light than the f/2.8 maximum apertures of the vast majority of current P&S cameras and 4.6 stops faster than the f/3.5 maximum apertures of most long zoom point and shoots. Faster lenses are, everything else being equal, better than slower lenses because they substantially increase low light/natural light options for serious photographers and provide marginally shallower depth of field. The EX2F will obviously come up a bit short for those who wish to shoot team sports or wildlife. 

These environmental portraits of a fourth generation candymaker and a second generation Maple syrup maker showcase the EX2F’s ability to get the picture — even in lighting that would leave most point and shoots capturing dark, detailess, noisy, and blurry images.

When the EX2F is powered up, the zoom extends from the camera body automatically, once you remember to remove the included pinch-clip lens cap.  When the camera is powered down, the lens retracts into the camera body. A word of caution for EX2F purchasers — I kept misplacing that tiny lens cap. Zooming is smooth and relatively quiet. The EX2F needs about 3 seconds to move the zoom lens from wide angle to telephoto.
The EX2F’s Schneider zoom is amazingly good even though it displays some very minor corner softness at the wide angle end of the lens. Barrel distortion (straight lines bow in toward the center of the frame) at the wide-angle end of the zoom range is essentially absent, which is very impressive optical engineering.  Chromatic aberration (purple fringing) is remarkably well controlled – essentially absent at both ends of the zoom range.  The textured ring surrounding the zoom can be unscrewed to reveal threads for attaching filters and optional conversion lenses.

Video Quality
The EX2F records HD video (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264) at 1920x1080p @ 30fps with stereo audio. The zoom can be used during video capture, but the sound of the lens motor will be recorded.  Video clips generated by the EX2F are sharp, fluid, and hue accurate.  The video clip that accompanies this review was shot in the late afternoon on a cold, snowy, overcast day.


Image Quality
The EX2F’s image files are clearly optimized for accurate real world colors and slightly hard contrast. Images display very good resolution (sharpness) with almost neutral colors and essentially no noise up to ISO 800. Viewed on my IBM monitor, images from the EX2F look a lot like the ISO 100 Agfa slides I shot while I was living in Germany. Most P&S cameras boost color saturation — reds are a bit too warm, blues are noticeably brighter than they are in real life and greens/yellows are overly vibrant. Veteran shooters call this “consumer color” because casual shooters like bright, bold colors. The EX2F’s images are highly-detailed and surprisingly sharp with near neutral colors and good contrast. Image quality, across the board, is noticeably better than average for cameras in this class. 
The EX2F provides users with a very good selection of White Balance options, including auto WB, daylight, Ccoudy, fluorescent 1, fluorescent 2, tungsten, and custom (manual WB). The EX2F’s auto WB system does a very good job across the board, even under incandescent (tungsten) and fluorescent lighting.

The EX2F provides a very impressive range of sensitivity options, including auto and user-set options for ISO 80 to ISO 3200. ISO 6400 and ISO 12800 are available when ISO Expansion is activated with ISO 12800 limited to 3MP. ISO  80 through ISO 200 images are essentially indistinguishable. All three settings show almost neutral colors, slightly hard native contrast, and virtually no noise. ISO 400 images were also very good, but with a tiny bit less pop. At the ISO 800 setting, noise levels are noticeably higher and there’s a perceptible loss of fine detail.  ISO 1600 and ISO 3200 images show flatter colors, reduced contrast and visible noise, but noticeably less noise than expected.  

Additional Sample Images



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