Samsung EX2F Digital Camera Review$499.00
When Sony introduced the Cyber-shot RX100 earlier this year, it was so far ahead of the competition that much of the existing market was instantly invalidated. It was, and still is, the high-end compact for discerning photographers who need portability, and any new review necessitates a comparison. We do think there's space for the EX2F and the RX100 to coexist in the same market, but only a little.
Speaking purely of image quality, and at least until we test Canon's G15, we'd place the EX2F directly behind the RX100 and directly in front of Pansonic's LX7. While the LX7 and the EX2F share an f/1.4 lens, images captured with the Samsung don't look as flat as they do with the Panasonic (admittedly, this could be an artificial effect), yet with just a 1/1.7-inch sensor, they don't have the attractive depth of the RX100 either.
Problems with the EX2F's image include oversharpening and a lack of dynamic range. We've never seen a camera use such aggressive sharpness enhancement, which is a shame because seemed sharp enough already, without the addition of side-effects like haloing. Worse is camera's low dynamic range, a result of the sensor's inability to keep noise in check. This is a limitation we noticed right away, and it meant many of our outdoor test shots weren't all they could've been.
We also had some difficulty handling the camera. We liked the fast menu system and the convenient exposure lock button, but the front dial is in a tough spot. The result is more accidentally changed settings than we prefer...zero, that is. The body also falls into the category of "_almost_ pocket-friendly:" It might fit, but it won't be comfortable.
As of right now, the Samsung EX2F seems to be the best compact option at $500, which used to be the average price in this category. We draw a lot of comparisons to the Sony RX100, but it's easy to forget that model costs $150 more than most of the competition. Of course it remains to be seen how many consumers are willing to pay "only" $500, which is already expensive by compact standards, and pony up the extra 30 percent for the RX100, which is clearly a better camera.
And since we haven't tested the Canon S110 or G15, or Nikon P7700, we're still not sure how the EX2F really compares within this class. Even if those yet-to-be-tested cameras change our perspective, the Samsung EX2F is certainly a sturdy, fun camera, and we do recommend it. The only question is how it stacks up against those very recent announcements.