One of the flagship announcements at PMA 2010 was the Samsung TL500, which is a serious point and shoot camera that matches up well against the popular Canon G11. I had to opportunity to spend a little time with a preproduction TL500 while at PMA 2010. As with other prepoduction models that I encountered, I was not allowed to bring back sample images or video to share with you.
The TL500 packs a 10MP 1/1.7″ CCD sensor and a 3x optical zoom lens, which has an f/1.8 max aperture on the wide end. When zoomed out to full tele, the max aperture becomes f/2.4. In addition to the headline bright aperture lens, the TL500 also touts a beautiful, swiveling 3-inch AMOLED screen.
The menu system on the TL500 is nicely done. Samsung takes advantage of the pretty AMOLED screen an provides a bright, easily navigable series of menus and dialogs.
The TL500’s build is solid. It feels a lot like the G11 in hand, if not a little beefier. The brushed aluminum finish is very pretty and provides a style statement along with the robust feature set.
The TL500 has an internal popup flash that is well concealed in the top left corner and pops up when desired by flipping a manual switch just behind the flash. I found that this popup did not get in the way of shooting as was the case with the Canon S90. Because the Samsung TL500 is much beefier than the S90, I had plenty of places to grip the camera aside from using the top left location of the flash.
Like the Canon G11 and Nikon P6000, the Samsung TL500 features a hotshoe for external flash usage. However, Samsung reps at PMA 2010 could not provide me with details on which flashes will be compatible with the TL500, nor did I get info on what features would be usable with external flashes. The presence of the Samsung NX10 in the product line would suggest that NX-series flashes could be used with the TL500, but that’s just speculation on my part.
The TL500 features a bundle of controls that are accessible via dedicated buttons and dials on the camera’s exterior. There are two multi-functional scroll wheels – one being on the front grip for your forefinger and the other located around the 4-way dial on the rear for your thumb. Additionally, there are two dials atop the TL500 – a standard Mode dial and a drive mode dial for selecting single, continuous, timer and bracket settings.
A dedicated video capture button can be found on the rear, which engages 640×480 resolution video capture – no HD here. Additionally, a number of common controls can be accessed rather quickly, thanks to dedicated buttons for exposure lock, macro mode, flash and more. As noted above, the menu system is straightforward and easily navigable using the 4-way control buttons the rear.
The TL500 offers both JPEG and RAW image capture. It will ship with Samsung’s Intellistudio to handle the RAW files. Additionally, other image editing programs, such as Adobe Lightroom and Apple Aperture will likely include RAW compatibility for the Samsung TL500 in future updates.
The Samsung TL500 is a very intriguing camera – one that will certainly garner the attention of many in the months to come. Of course, the obvious question yet to be answered is that of image quality. If the image quality proves satisfactory, the advanced point and shoot market will be a little more crowded with a serious offering from Samsung.
Overall, the TL500 provided a solid first impression in terms of controls, handling and shooting. The images viewed on the rear of the AMOLED appeared about as good as you could expected from viewing images on a 3-inch screen. One notable advantage, of course, is the f/1.8 lens at the wide zoom end. Obviously, this bright aperture benefits low light shooting and will help keep those shutter speeds up for indoor and other low light images.
The Samsung TL500 carries an initial retail price tag of $449.95 and is expected to be available in Spring 2010. You can order the Samsung TL500 through Photography Bay’s trusted online affiliates and support this site by using the links below.
Stay tuned for more on the Samsung TL500.