Samsung announces three new cameras, maybe even ones worth looking at

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The last batch of Samsung point-and-shoots was so unremarkable that I couldn’t even bear to write them up. Not so this batch — while Samsung isn’t exactly revolutionizing imaging or anything, these are at least different from the usual “megapixel bump and smile shutter features” nonsense.

Following the example of such cameras as the DP2 and LX3, the new TL500 eschews high megapixel counts and long zooms for a fast lens and larger sensor, resulting in (one hopes) much-improved low light performance. And the TL350 takes a page from Casio’s book (it’s about time) and allows for 1000FPS video recording (in a postage stamp-sized frame, of course). Bravo, Samsung.

Here are the relevant stats and figures:


TL500



The selling point of the TL500 is its lens and sensor. Its 1.7″ CCD and F/1.8 24mm lens (5x optical zoom) mean that the camera should be able to shoot at its optimum settings in almost any situation. No more high-ISO pictures at sunset or blurred action in daylight because of a slow lens — this has ever been the curse of point and shoots.

Unfortunately, the result of this helpful, but immature lens-sensor combination is a lack of other compelling features. Video, for instance, is limited to a pathetic 640×480 at 30FPS. While I rarely find a use for face recognition and such, it’s become part of a standard feature set that people expect, and the TL500 doesn’t seem to sport any of the usual bells and whistles. Maybe it’s for the best. But really, VGA video? And brother is that camera ugly!

It’s also got a 3″ AMOLED swivel screen, which I imagine is quite nice. The TL500 should be available this spring for $450. Kind of steep if you ask me, but I like where they’re going with this.


TL350


The TL350 is the most interesting camera I’ve seen from Samsung in a long time, probably because it’s a mea culpa on their part, admitting that perhaps consumers do want interesting features. The TL350 doesn’t have the same high-quality lens or big sensor as the TL500, but its feature set is much more compelling. To start with, it does high speed video — up to 1000FPS, like the Casio FC100, and actually uses the same framerate steps as Casio does, with slightly higher resolution. We’ll have to test this out first-hand to see if it’s better or worse, but the fact that they’re even doing it raises my opinion of Samsung significantly.

Next, they have an interesting but questionably practical feature, called dual capture. Basically, you can take full-size 10-megapixel shots while shooting HD video at 1080p. I don’t know how many shots I’ve missed because I was busy shooting video, but it isn’t many. Also, I’d be worried about shutter lag, weird exposure, and interruption of the video. But hey, maybe they’ve got that all worked out.

The TL350 also has a 3″ AMOLED screen, though it doesn’t swivel. I’m okay with that if you are. It should be available this spring for $350. This is the one I’d buy if I were you. Hopefully we’ll get one for review right quick.


AQ100 & SL605


Not too much too see here. The AQ100 (top) is waterproof, and the SL605 is “durable,” which is not to say “rugged.” The both have 12 megapixels, a 5x zoom, a 2.7″ LCD screen, and the usual point-and-shoot features. The AQ100 shoots 720p but the SL605 is limited to 640×480. The obvious question is why didn’t they just make one camera that’s both durable and waterproof?

They’ll both be available this spring, the AQ100 for $200 and the SL605 for $130.


Not bad, Samsung, not bad. It was a lot of work to write these bastards up, but I don’t regret it. I can’t wait to get my hands on both the TL500 and the TL350.

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