With their first DSLR camera, Samsung aim at the novice digital SLR photographer, the largest group of consumers, that are taking the step from a digital compact camera to a digital SLR camera. However, this doesn't change the fact that the Samsung GX-1S camera already offers the user a wide variety of options generally seen in the semi-professional models. As a result, the Samsung GX-1S is a camera that is purchased to grow along with you. That is, the camera offers the possibility to grow along at the same rate as your photographic skills and know-how. It forms an instant difference between a compact camera and a DSLR camera.
Samsung GX-1S - Exposure programmes
Naturally, the camera offers a wide variety of exposure programmes. There are the pictograms for the novice, whilst those who have ventured a little further into the world of photography will be able to take a pick from the P, TV, Av or M mode. The M-mode of the Samsung GX-1S features a clever extra trick. If you press the AE-L in the manual mode, the shutter speed and the aperture will be set as if you were working in the programme mode. A very handy asset! The AE-L can also be assigned a different function via the menu, but as far as I'm concerned, I don't really see the need.
Samsung GX-1S digital SLR - Menu
The menu does play an important role where the settings are concerned. There are many features to be set, and if you were to do that all through separate buttons, things would likely become chaotic. Just like the rest of the camera, its menu is clear and easy to use. There are four tab pages; one for the record-settings, one for play back, one for set-up and one for the personal settings. In fact, everything is very logically positioned, ideal for those that are not yet familiar with all the options that you have at your disposal. The Samsung GX-1S features plenty of opportunities to discover everything the camera has to offer at your own pace. The novice photographer will certainly not feel thrown into the deep end.
Samsung GX 1S - Image & Colour settings
The image tone setting offers you the choice between bright and natural. Bright produces an image that is richer in contrast, as well as brighter, with an increased sharpening. This setting will prove useful if you do not really want to resort to a programme such as Photoshop and want to, for example, print the photos instantly. The colour saturation, the sharpening and the contrast can also be set separately. However, the standard sharpening proves to be just right. More sharpening quickly leads to annoying artefacts, which will be most visible when looking at the monitor. Personally, I ended up taking most of my photos in RAW, which simply enables you to get the very best out of the camera. Apart from the exposure, however, I only rarely had to make changes to the contrast and the sharpening. All in all, the Samsung produces attractive photos that do not require all that much work from the user. Simplicity is its goal, and I think it is fair to say the Samsung GX 1S passes this test with flying colours.
Samsung GX 1S - Multi-segment metering
The fact that the light metering and the auto focus also need to be adjusted through the menu proves somewhat annoying, especially as these are features that are likely to be experimented with once in a while. Personally, I would prefer to see two small extra buttons on the camera. The multi-segment metering produces an astute exposure in most circumstances, even though the Samsung GX-1S does tend to lean towards as small underexposure.
Then again, that would still be preferable to an overexposure. Besides the multi-segment metering, you may also opt to work with the traditional centre-weighted metering or spot metering. Rather luxurious additions for an entry-level camera. The menu allows you to set the auto focus on one or several areas and pick a focus point yourself, or leave this to the camera. The single and continuous focus can also be set via the menu. As far as I'm concerned, the latter option in particular would have benefited from being located at the front near the lens. On the other hand, one wonders how many of the eventual users will actually be adjusting these settings often?
Samsung GX 1S camera - ISO settings
The personal settings allow you to tune the Samsung GX-1S almost entirely to your own preferences, a luxurious asset for this type of camera. Unfortunately however, the camera lacks a programmable button. The GX-1S is able to increase the ISO automatically. This can be done either fully automatically, via Auto ISO, as well as within a certain area, for example; only from ISO 200-800. The user can also set the camera to give out a warning when the ISO value rises higher than, for example, ISO 800.
Samsung GX 1S DSLR - Noise ratio
It should be said that the camera can easily be used with a high sensitivity. Noise only becomes really noticeable at ISO 1600, and even the noise at ISO 3200 cannot be called bothersome. This truly is a remarkable performance, especially considering the now slightly outdated sensor. Although we do clearly see more noise when comparing it to the performances of the CMOS sensor, such as the Canon EOS series cameras, this amount of noise does not necessarily have an annoying effect. For a proper assessment, a print of a test shot generally proves to be the deciding factor; after all, enlarging 100% on a monitor is not exactly the view that the average user has in mind. Consequently, we frequently see that the prints turn out to show a different noise ratio, and that there is often too much value attached to the topic of noise.
Samsung GX 1S - White balance
An important setting is the white balance. When working in fluorescent light, the automatic white balance proves to deviate quite a bit indeed. Because fluorescent light is tricky to filter, the Samsung GX-1S offers no less than three pre-programmed modes for fluorescent light. Should these still prove to deviate too much, you can always opt for a manual metering, which happened to produce a better result in all cases than the automatic white balance, albeit only a marginal difference at times. The automatic white balance will likely prove sufficient for those working in RAW. The converter still allows trouble-free corrections.