A combination of high quality optics and a sensor with larger pixels enables the Samsung EX1 to produce high quality images across a wide range of sensitivity (ISO) settings. Images are virtually noise-free and very sharp up to IS0 400.
As confirmed in our lab tests, dynamic range is excellent within this ISO range, producing higher figures in testing than similar cameras equipped with backlit CMOS sensors. This will be especially useful for shooting high contrast subjects at lower sensitivities, such as landscapes.
As sensitivity is increased, noise levels start to go up too, especially in the shadows. Noise appears more prevalent in the red channel than any other, and shadows start to show red speckling from ISO 800 onwards, along with a loss of detail due to noise reduction.
Images taken at ISO 800 should still make reasonable A4 prints, and care may need to be taken at higher sensitivities. The noise that is present has a blotchy appearance as the camera's noise reduction system struggles to keep speckling from being too intrusive.
Although noise is quite prevalent and images are noticeably softer at ISO 3200 than ones taken at lower sensitivities, they are still suitable for postcard-sized prints and sharing at low resolutions on the web.
The density of blacks is reduced at ISO 3200 and ISO 1600 due to noise, so a quick contrast adjustment in image editing software such as Photoshop Elements afterwards can greatly improve the appearance of images taken at these settings.
Colours are reproduced accurately with default settings selected and a comprehensive range of preset pictures styles are included to enhance colours, or to create certain effects, including one for vivid colours, neutral colours and to emphasise greens in forest foliage.
The auto white balance system performs well in a wide range of conditions, leaving enough of a colour cast in images so that the original atmosphere isn't lost.
A quick access button on the rear of the compact camera provides immediate access to the Samsung EX1's three metering options of Multi-Segment, Centre Weighted and Spot. Multi-Segment metering performs well in evenly lit situations, but struggles in higher contrast conditions.
Scenes with large areas of brightness or darkness in them can cause the camera to over or underexpose wildly. At least exposure compensation is easily accessible when using any of the creative manual exposure modes.