Samsung TL500: Video and Image Quality

by Howard Creech Reads (565)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Image/Video Quality
    • 8
    • Features
    • 7
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 8
    • Performance
    • 8
    • Total Score:
    • 7.75
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Video Quality
I’ve talked to a couple of my photographer friends since I’ve been carrying the TL500 around and they were surprised that a four hundred dollar point-and-shoot didn’t provide an HD movie mode. Most consumers expect premium digicams to offer a full complement of cutting edge features and most of Samsung’s competitors offer HD (720p) movie modes. What’s up with that?

Maybe the folks at Samsung figured that the TL500’s target audience wouldn’t be shooting much video and didn’t really care as much about HD video as they did about other features like the TL500’s superb Schneider zoom. The TL500 records video at 640 x 480 at 30fps with mono audio. The zoom can be used during video capture, but the sound of the lens motor will be recorded. VGA video clips generated by the TL500 are fairly sharp, fluid (not jerky), and hue accurate.

The video in the player above has been compressed and re-encoded for streaming online. To download the original file in its native resolution and format, click the link below.

Download TL500 Sample Video Here

If you absolutely must have HD video check out Canon’s superb S95 or Panasonic’s pack leading LX5. The video clip that accompanies this review was shot in the late afternoon of a cold gray overcast day.

Image Quality
The TL500’s 10 megapixel 1/1.7″ CCD sensor drives Samsung’s DRIMe III image processor to produce reliably excellent images. The TL500’s image files are clearly optimized for accurate real world colors and slightly hard contrast. Images display very good resolution (sharpness) with neutral colors and almost no noise up to ISO 800. Viewed on my IBM monitor images from the TL500 look a lot like the ISO 100 Agfa slides I shot while I was living in Germany.

Most current digicams 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 (the demographic that buys the most digicams) like bright bold colors. The TL500’s images are highly-detailed and surprisingly sharp with neutral colors and good contrast.

The TL500 provides users with a very good selection of White Balance options, including Auto WB, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent 1, Fluorescent 2, Tungsten, and Custom (manual WB). The TL500’s auto WB system does a very good job across the board, even under incandescent (tungsten) and fluorescent lighting.

Samsung TL500 Sample Image
Auto White Balance, 5500k fluorescent light

The megapixel wars have finally arrived at the point of diminishing returns – crowding more pixels onto tiny sensors dependably results in higher levels of image degrading noise and lowered contrast. Compact digital cameras with 12 or 14 megapixel resolution don’t really produce better pictures than digicams with lower resolution – they just generate larger and noisier image files. The TL500 features 10 megapixel resolution, which indicates Samsung is committed to improving performance at higher (ISO) sensitivity for better low light and indoor pictures.

The TL500 provides a very impressive range of sensitivity options, including auto and user-set options for ISO 100 to 3200. ISO 100 and ISO 200 images are essentially indistinguishable. Both settings show neutral colors, slightly hard native contrast and virtually no noise. ISO 400 images were also very good, but with a tiny bit less pop.

Samsung TL500 Sample Image
ISO 80
Samsung TL500 Sample Image
ISO 80, 100% crop
Samsung TL500 Sample Image
ISO 100
Samsung TL500 Sample Image
ISO 100, 100% crop
Samsung TL500 Sample Image
ISO 200
Samsung TL500 Sample Image
ISO 200, 100% crop
Samsung TL500 Sample Image
ISO 400
Samsung TL500 Sample Image
ISO 400, 100% crop
Samsung TL500 Sample Image
ISO 800
Samsung TL500 Sample Image
ISO 800, 100% crop
Samsung TL500 Sample Image
ISO 1600
Samsung TL500 Sample Image
ISO 1600, 100% crop
Samsung TL500 Sample Image
ISO 3200
Samsung TL500 Sample Image
ISO 3200, 100% crop

At the ISO 800 setting, noise levels are noticeably higher and there’s a perceptible loss of detail. ISO 1600 and ISO 3200 images show flatter colors, reduced contrast and visible noise, but noticeably less noise than expected.

Additional Sample Images

Samsung TL500 Sample Image Samsung TL500 Sample Image
Samsung TL500 Sample Image Samsung TL500 Sample Image
Samsung TL500 Sample Image Samsung TL500 Sample Image


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