As smartphones continue to hammer the nails into the sub-$500 pocket camera coffin, camera-makers have been trying their best to inject some allure into the point-and-shoot category. Unable to compete with the superior optics and sensors found in pricier fixed-lens cameras, point-and-shoots must be sold on their key strength: software.
The EX2F offers better optics than most point-and-shoots, more solid build quality, and some attractive pro-level manual controls.
Samsung in particular has seen a fair amount of success in the software game with its Galaxy Camera, a touchscreen-equipped point-and-shoot that runs Android. This particular Samsung shooter, the EX2F Smart Camera, takes a slightly different tack — it has many of the advanced software features that are making their way into the latest point-and-shoots, including some creative filters and one-touch wireless photo sharing over Wi-Fi. But it also offers better optics than most point-and-shoots, more solid build quality, and some attractive pro-level manual controls. It seems like less like a point-and-shoot that’s trying to appeal to smartphone users, and more like a compact option for DSLR-lovers looking for a cheaper camera that allows for manual shooting.
The EX2F’s list price is $400, and it can be found online for closer to $350. That’s at least 200 bucks cheaper than our favorite point-and-shoot currently available, the Sony Cyber-shot RX100, but still expensive territory for a camera that doesn’t provide any sort of interchangeable lens options. This is why the physical build of the camera and the quality of the manual controls have to truly rock to make the EX2F a good buy. And it’s especially true for people used to compact system cameras or DSLRs, a group that’s already quick to count out mid-priced fixed-lens point-and-shoots because they tend to lack manual settings.
The EX2F does at least have excellent controls. It offers both manual and shutter/aperture priority modes. I’ve used dozens of DSLRs, and the EX2F’s manual dials immediately felt comfortable in my hands, with my forefinger and thumb easily sliding over the dials on the front and back of the camera to change aperture and shutter speed. When shooting in shutter-priority mode, I was delighted to see that the EX2F’s optical/digital image stabilization allowed me to hand-hold extremely steady photos at slow shutter speeds.
The 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor is an obvious upgrade to the tiny sensors on mobile devices, and a downgrade from a DSLR, but its 12-megapixel output is plenty for most hobbyist photographers. Battery life should also be enough for most photographers. I started on a full charge and it lasted me for a few days of shooting — maybe actively shooting for 30 minutes a day. It eventually crapped out after a long photo walk through the park. I got maybe a total of three hours of shooting out of each charge. Not amazing, but not noticeably bad, either.