Here at PMA in Anaheim, Samsung has just announced the new TL500—a 10MP “high end” compact camera that looks to be edging into the “prosumer” compact market, in which the Canon G-series and Nikon P6000 have found their homes. Samsung is calling the TL500 their new flagship compact digital camera, and “a milestone in the industry.” It has a 24mm ultra‑wide angle Schneider KREUZNACH, f/1.8 lens, a 1/1.7-inch CCD sensor, a DRIMeIII imaging processor and a 3-inch, swiveling AMOLED screen. The TL500 supports RAW and offers Aperture and Shutter-Priority, and Manual shooting modes. It shoots video as well (640×480 at 30fps in H.264 format)—same as in the recently reviewed Samsung DualView TL225. The TL500 will be available in Spring 2010 for $449.99. See the press release below.
Anaheim, CA (February 20, 2010) - Samsung Electronics America, Inc., a market leader and award-winning innovator in consumer electronics, proudly introduces the 10 mega-pixel TL500, a high-end compact digital camera designed specifically for today’s advanced and enthusiast photographers. The new flagship of the company’s compact digital camera family, the new TL500 incorporates a full-range of advanced features, including a high-performance imaging sensor and one of the brightest lenses ever featured on a compact camera – a 24mm ultra‑wide angle Schneider KREUZNACH, f/1.8. The TL500 will be on display during PMA 2010, February 21‑23, in the Samsung booth, #2227, in the Anaheim Convention Center.
“With the TL500, Samsung further differentiates its lineup from the competition and achieves yet another milestone in the industry,” said Mr. SJ Park, CEO of Samsung Digital Imaging Company. “With ultra-wide angle capability and unparalleled speed, the TL500’s lens offers a new level of versatility allowing the user to be more creative and take better pictures.”
High-Quality Optics and Images
The Samsung TL500 is sure to turn heads thanks to its ultra-wide, f/1.8 Schneider lens – one of the brightest ever featured on a compact digital camera. The impressive f/1.8 lens offers photographers a wider range of aperture steps and shallow depth-of-field, giving them the ability to blur out the background of their images while maintaining focus on their subjects. The ultra-fast, f/1.8 lens also allows users to take better photos in low-light environments as more light is passed through to the new high-performance 1/1.7” CCD sensor. Larger than the sensors typically found in compact digital cameras, the TL500’s 1/1.7” CCD offers unrivaled sensitivity (max ISO 3200/full-resolution). Together with Samsung’s re‑engineered and fast, DRIMeIII imaging processor, the TL500 captures high-quality images, regardless of the lighting environment.
The high-end Schneider lens offers a 24mm, ultra-wide focal length and 3x optical zoom. Much wider than traditional compact cameras, the TL500’s 24mm ultra-wide angle lens allows photographers to capture more of a desired scene, such as beautiful landscapes and large groups of friends or family. For blur‑free images, the TL500’s lens is also paired with Samsung’s Dual Image Stabilization technology.
Versatile Display Enhances the Viewing Experience
Composing and reviewing images on the TL500’s three-inch, swiveling AMOLED screen is a pleasure. The rotating AMOLED display will allow photographers to precisely frame their images the way they want and shoot from just about any angle, including overhead or low‑to‑the-ground shots. Compared to the traditional TFT-LCD found on most digital cameras, the TL500’s AMOLED provides users with a higher contrast ratio, deeper blacks and more accurate, vivid colors, even when viewed from an angle or in direct sunlight. The TL500’s AMOLED display is also more efficient when it comes to power consumption, allowing photographers to maximize battery life and shoot longer on a single charge.
Multiple Shooting Options
The TL500 supports RAW and gives enthusiasts full control over their images thanks to its shutter‑priority, aperture‑priority and full Manual shooting modes. When using these settings, shooters can experiment with features such as slower shutter speeds and depth‑of‑field; however, for those who prefer ease-of-use over manual controls, the TL500 also offers Samsung’s Smart Auto 2.0 (Still & Movie) scene recognition technology. Applicable for video recording (640×480 / 30fps / H.264) and taking digital stills, this intelligent feature analyzes the scene and then automatically selects the appropriate settings for the best results possible. Using this mode requires minimal effort and does not sacrifice image quality for simple operation.
Text and Photos by Allison Gibson
I’ve been known to cut my husband’s head off. In pictures, that is. He’s several inches taller than me, and when we travel we tend to forgo asking strangers to take our photo for us, opting instead to go for the stretched-out-arm-double-self-portrait. Inevitably, he only makes it into the shot from the neck down, or in other cases, our faces crowd the frame so much that the picture might as well have been taken in our front yard rather than in front of the Eiffel Tower. Sure, there’s the Quick Pod, Arm Extending Self Portrait Device, which would allow for further extension beyond my limited arm’s length, but then I still couldn’t see a preview of the shot to frame it. And, let’s face it; I probably wouldn’t go through the trouble of hooking it up. I’ve seen hacks online where people have glued small mirrors to the front of their cameras to resolve this issue, but it hasn’t been until recently that a camera has existed to remedy this problem professionally. It’s been a long time coming.
The Samsung DualView TL225 boasts two LCD screens—a 3.5-inch touch screen on the back and a 1.5-inch front LCD, which allows you to see a live view of what the lens sees, in order to get a perfect shot. Ingenious, really. Though I don’t know what took so long for this feature to make its way to consumers, I give major credit to Samsung for being the first.
The TL225 has a 12.2-megapixel CCD image sensor and 4.6x optical zoom. The 4.9-22.5mm (35mm film equivalent: 27-124.2mm) f/3.5-5.9 wide angle Schneider-KREUZNACH lens allows for shooting wide landscape vistas and large groups of people. There is an expanded list of flash modes, beyond what is often seen in pocket cams, including: Auto, Auto & Red-eye reduction, Fill-in flash, Slow sync, Flash off and Red eye fix. The TL225 records High Definition video (1280x720p at 30fps) in H.264 format, and has a mini HDMI connector.
If you’re a fan of the touch screen interface, you’ll be a fan of the TL225. The camera body is virtually void of any protruding buttons, save for a small power button, an almost flat shutter release, a zoom toggle and a slim and flat playback button—all on top. The wide 3.5-inch LCD screen fills up the entire back of the camera, and its touch menu is about as good as I’ve seen before for navigating the menu layers and scrolling through shots in playback. A simple tap of obviously marked tabs and symbols takes you where you need to be, and the circular shooting mode menu scrolls smoothly. The touch screen uses “haptic” technology, which causes a little buzz to occur when you tap so that you get the reassuring sensation of having pressed a button and made a selection. Also, the Gesture UI allows for the camera to respond to your hand gesture in order to access certain features.
Harbor shot in Auto Mode
Harbor shot in “Sunset” Scene Mode
There is an assortment of shooting modes in the TL225, including: Auto, Program, Smart Auto (which automatically recognizes the scene and adjusts settings), and thirteen dedicated Scene Modes (including: Beauty Shot, Frame Guide, Night, Portrait, Children, Dawn, Sunset, Text, Close up, Landscape, Backlight, Fireworks and Beach & Snow). There is also Dual Image Stabilization (IS) mode, which uses both Optical (OIS)—for combating hand-shake—and Digital (DIS)—as a backup—to help you capture sharp, blur-free shots. In Program Mode you can select from an ISO range of 80-3200, or ISO Auto. You can also choose to shoot in Auto Focus Mode, Macro (for a focusing distance closer than 80cm) or Super Macro (for less than 3-8cm) in order to control depth of field as specifically as the point-and-shoot will allow.
The nice thing about the 1.5-inch front LCD on the TL225 is that it turns off and basically disappears if it’s not in use, so that you don’t go around promoting your shots to the world if you use the rear LCD to frame. Also, it lies underneath the glossy, black semiopaque casing of the camera, so it’s much more scratch resistant than the rear screen.
There are additional uses for the front LCD beyond giving you a live view of what the lens sees for self portrait taking. In Child Mode, built-in animations, such as a winking clown, keep the attention of squirming toddlers and crying babies. The Samsung website offers additional Child Mode Animations for free download as well. The Countdown Timer animation is another option to be viewed through the front LCD, so that you know when to smile and when not to blink as you wait for the self timer to release the shutter.
My biggest complaint about the TL225 would be the memory issue. Samsung insists on using a Micro SD/SDHC to keep the camera slim and compact, but it ends up being a hassle for most of us whose card readers and arsenal of memory cards are of the SD/SDHC variation. At most, however, this is no more than an inconvenience; not really a flaw. The camera does come with about 55MB of internal memory as well.
All said, I’m a fan. Yes, mostly because of the DualView aspect, but also because I found the overall design and functionality of what could be a “gimmicky” camera to be very good. The $349.99 (MSRP) price tag is a response to the Schneider-KREUZNACH optics, the near flawless UI and the dual LCDs—not the comparable specs and image quality of point-and-shoots that can be found for well under $300. So, those are your options to weigh. Some people assume that the DualView TL225 is marketed only to those interested in vanity, but I think it’s worth considering how often you take self portrait shots, especially if you travel a lot. This is an innovation that goes far beyond vanity or gimmick in my opinion.
Samsung DualView TL225
- 3.93”W x 2.35”H x 0.73”D; .365 lbs.
- Image Sensor:
- 12.2-megapixels, CCD
- Still Recording Format:
- Mini SD/SDHC, 55MB internal
- 3.5-inch touch rear LCD; 1.5-inch front LCD
- Video Recording Mode:
- 1280×720 (30/15fps) High Quality; 1280×720 (30/15fps) Standard Quality;
640×480 (30/15fps); 320×240 (60/30/15 fps) in H.264 format
- Exposure Metering:
- Multi, Spot, Center Weighted, Face Detection AE
- ISO Equivalent:
- Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
- Power Source:
- SLB-07ARechargeable Battery