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Hands on with the Samsung EX2F

Find out what Samsung's latest advanced compact camera is capable of capturing thanks to a bright f/1.4 lens.

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Lexy Savvides
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Find out what Samsung's advanced compact camera is all about in our photo gallery.

The EX2F has a bright f/1.4 lens as its biggest calling card, which means that it can gather more light than many other cameras of its type. Behind the lens is a 1/1.7-inch backside-illuminated 12.4-megaxpiel CMOS sensor. There's also full manual control and Wi-Fi connectivity available.

All photos and video after the ninth image were taken on the EX2F, with no post-processing except resizing for web or cropping. The EX2F will be available from mid-September for AU$549.

Lexy Savvides travelled to Singapore as a guest of Samsung.

While the EX2F is classed as a compact camera, it feels pretty sturdy in the hand. Made of magnesium alloy, it tips the scales at 294 grams. Around the front of the lens element is a textured ring, although it doesn't move or let users change shooting controls. However, it can be removed in order to mount converters.

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There's a swivel 3-inch AMOLED screen at the back of the camera, which flips out from the side. Thanks to its configuration, it can be used to take self-portraits if you so desire (or self-camera shots, in this case) in the same vein as earlier dual-screen cameras from Samsung.

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Wi-Fi implementation works in the same way as the , with a dedicated Wi-Fi option on the mode dial. Options include the ability to share to social-media sites like Facebook, upload videos to YouTube or even use your mobile or tablet device as a remote viewfinder.

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Around the back, the button and dial configuration looks about the same as it does on any compact camera, with a four-way directional pad and rotating wheel to adjust settings on the fly. There's also an exposure lock button, as well as an instant-on record button.

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At the top of the camera, things look a little different from normal. There are two dials, one which houses all of the regular shooting modes, including full manual mode. The other dial is used to access common shooting features that are usually hidden deep within the menus, such as bracketing and drive modes. It's actually a really intuitive system, and being able to simply flick a dial rather than hunt for options in menus saves time.

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There's a micro HDMI and USB port presented on the side. The camera charges the battery inside the body, so there's no need to carry around a separate charger.

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Previous Samsung cameras have had bright and responsive screens, and the 3-inch AMOLED model on the EX2F is no different. In dark situations, it's really easy to see, and the VGA resolution means that there's a good amount of detail on show when you need to review shots.

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At the launch, there was even a light in the shape of the EX2F.

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It was time to take the EX2F for a spin in the real world to see what it could really do. With an f/1.4 lens, shooting in low light becomes much more accessible than it is on other compact cameras. Shooting at f/1.4 is only possible at the widest end of the lens (24mm), and zooming in closes the aperture down to f/2.7 at 3.3x optical zoom — which is still pretty fast.

This shot was taken at 1/45, f/2.6, ISO 160, with the 100 per cent crop of the centre portion of the frame inset. As you can see, there's very little evidence of noise, and the image looks particularly sharp.

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Photographers can get some attractive shallow depth-of-field effects when using the widest aperture at f/1.4. There is a built-in neutral density (ND) filter in the EX2F as well, which definitely helps when you want to shoot at f/1.4 in bright daylight, as it reduces the amount of light entering the lens in order to get a correct exposure.

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From our initial time with the camera, the EX2F feels like a nimble performer, able to capture spur-of-the-moment shots like this one without pronounced shutter lag.

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Here's a video still from the EX2F. Full HD video recording at 1080p (30 frames per second) is available — a sample is provided below.

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There are a number of different creative effects available on this camera, with most accessible from the magic options on the mode dial (the small camera icon with the star in the centre). Above is the artistic brush mode, which paints the scene in either ink painting, cartoon or sketch effects. Once the shot is taken, the camera proceeds to "paint" the scene before your eyes on the screen. When reviewing the image, you can see either the fully painted scene, or play back the painting effect once more, pausing anywhere in the animation in order to extract a VGA-resolution still.

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One of the Wi-Fi connectivity modes is the ability to use an app (iOS or Android) to control and take photos on the EX2F. In the photo above, the app can zoom the lens on the camera, as well as take a photo without needing to touch the EX2F. It's perfect for covert photography.

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Colours are nice and punchy on the EX2F when shooting in JPEG. You can also capture photos in RAW for additional flexibility, which we'll explore fully in our upcoming review.

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