Two years ago it was difficult to see Samsung as a serious digital camera competitor in the U.S. But that was two years ago. The company has since released a handful of models that have helped it standout, and its newly announced TL500 looks like another standout to add to that list.
Judging by it specs alone, the TL500 looks like it can take down Canon's PowerShot S90, one of the most popular cameras on CNET. In front is a f1.8, 24mm-equivalent lens with a 3x zoom. In back is a 3-inch swivel-mounted rotating AMOLED screen. Inside is a 1/1.7-inch type 10-megapixel CCD sensor. (That's larger than the sensors found in the bulk of compact cameras and with fewer pixels crammed in--both good things.) There's no optical viewfinder, but a hot shoe on top means there's at least an opportunity for Samsung to sell one as an add on (such as the one for Panasonic's LX3).
While details are scarce on shooting options, I'm expecting plenty of controls to play with at least as far as tweaking settings go (color, white balance, metering, exposure, and so on). It does have shutter-priority, aperture-priority, and full manual shooting modes and raw capture. And there's a small dial in front that seems to be for quickly changing settings. Its movie mode is only VGA quality, but like Canon's S90, the TL500's really a camera for still photographers.
There are lots of people drooling over megazooms like the Nikon P100, Fujifilm HS10, and Olympus SP-800 UZ, but the Samsung TL500 is one I'll be impatiently waiting to get my hands on. Look for it in spring for about $450.