Although the EX2F offers both Raw and Raw+JPEG modes, continuous shooting is limited to JPEGs only. Selectable burst modes include 3 fps, 5 fps, and a speedy 10 fps. Not surprisingly, the last locks focus and exposure on the first shot.
The EX2F's movie mode captures footage in MP4 (AVCHD) format. It's capable of capturing up to full HD video (1920 by 1080) as well as 320 by 240, 640 by 480, and 1280 by 720. Several high-speed options--120 fps, 240 fps, and 480 fps--are available for slow-motion playback. Image stabilization is active during movie capture and is relatively effective at compensating for hand shake, but a tripod, monopod, or other steadying device helps to produce the smoothest footage. Additionally, you can select white balance, EV, and metering mode.
While the zoom works during movie capture, the lens motor is audible--but just barely if there is ambient noise. Image quality is pretty good, and you can apply Smart Filters for creative effects. You won't be going to the Oscars with your movies, but you'll probably be happy to show them off to family and friends.
I was pleased with most of my test shots. Exposures were generally accurate, and colors were well saturated but attractive. Overall, images were sharp, with good detail. On the other hand, some photos seemed a little oversharpened.
Since the focal range is limited at 3.3X (24-80mm), you'll have to use your feet to zoom by moving closer to your subject. But the fast, f/1.4 lens is a bonus. With such a speedy lens, as well as the camera's image stabilization, you can keep the ISO lower than average to avoid image noise. The EX2F, with a native ISO of 80 to 3200 (expandable to 12,800), doesn't handle high ISO noise well, so it's best to shoot in raw and/or keep the ISO below 800 whenever possible. When you do have to push it to 800 or 1600, keep your prints relatively small or limit sharing to the Web for the best results.
The Samsung EX2F offers an appealing feature set for people who want to grow their skills, as well as for photographers who want to use a compact camera without giving up manual controls. Its fast f/1.4 lens helps to offset the camera's struggles with autofocus and image noise under low-light conditions, but works best in bright light. Wi-Fi and a long list of creative options are welcome additions to any camera, and Samsung does Wi-Fi better than most, so this feature will please those who want to share images while they're out and about.
Plenty of other advanced compact cameras are on the market these days, so shop around before you buy. Check out the Canon S110, for example, and if you don't care about having Wi-Fi, the Sony RX100 and the Panasonic LX7 are also good options.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.