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Samsung TL500 photo samples

While the TL500 is capable of taking some nice photos, it suffers worse-than-usual inconsistencies between JPEG and raw quality.

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Lori Grunin
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Lori Grunin
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1 of 10 Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET

Noise

The TL500's JPEG noise profile looks typical for its class; like its competitors, though, Samsung still doesn't match Canon for cleanliness of its images. They're good up through ISO 200, but at ISO 400 (where the stronger settings usually kick in) they're soft and above that it starts to depend upon how much detail is in the scene. Samsung tends to push both the chroma and luma noise reduction pretty strongly, while many companies tend to favor one over the other.
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2 of 10 Lori Grunin/CNET

Noise, ISO 400, raw vs. JPEG

I've never seen a more significant difference between raw and JPEG than with the TL500. Even this quick-and-dirty processed version has better color, dynamic range, and detail.

(1/250 sec, f4.4, matrix metering, tungsten white balance, 49mm)

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3 of 10 Lori Grunin/CNET

Noise, ISO 800, raw vs. JPEG

While you can get roughly better results from raw at ISO 800, artifacts are unavoidable at this point. I prefer the black grain of the raw version but note the loss of detail on the weave by the toy's arm.

(1/30 sec, f1.8, spot metering, auto white balance, 24mm)

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4 of 10 Lori Grunin/CNET

Noise, ISO 1600, raw

ISO 1,600 images may be usable on extremely low-detail shots. I couldn't completely eliminate the color noise from some of the edge areas, but it might have been possible given more time.

(1/30 sec, f2.3, spot metering, auto white balance, 57mm)

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5 of 10 Lori Grunin/CNET

Sharpness

The combination of a good lens and judicious use of in-camera sharpening produces very sharp, but not oversharpened-looking results.

(1/30 sec, f2.3, ISO 100, spot metering, auto white balance, 24mm)

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6 of 10 Lori Grunin/CNET

Special effects

The TL500 includes three cookie-cutter special effects (clockwise from top): miniature, vignette, and fish eye. None of them does a great job.
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7 of 10 Lori Grunin/CNET

Color

The auto white balance and default color settings produce very cool colors.
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8 of 10 Lori Grunin/CNET

Distortion

Samsung clearly performs in-camera distortion control. It's an interesting decision: at its widest of 24mm you expect distortion and may use it creatively, so this is probably a snapshooter-friendly decision on Samsung's part. That said, once you factor in the expected distortion, the lens performs very well. It's sharp around the edges and the barreling is the most symmetrical I've seen on a compact camera.

(1/90 sec, f5, ISO 80, spot metering, auto white balance, 24mm)

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9 of 10 Lori Grunin/CNET

Fringing

As you can see by the insets, the camera also performs in-camera chromatic aberration correction. While there isn't an unexpected amount of fringing in the raw files, it did appear in a couple of unexpected places that I found difficult to correct--one of the downsides of shooting raw with this camera.

(1/90 sec, f5, ISO 80, spot metering, auto white balance, 24mm)

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10 of 10 Lori Grunin/CNET

Bokeh

The out-of-focus highlights look quite good for this class of camera. That's in the JPEGs, though; the raw versions tend to have fringing on the white high-contrast edges and the uncorrected lens distortion, which can spoil the effect.

(1/125 sec, f3.9, ISO 80, spot metering, AWB, 24mm)

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