Samsung is a company more commonly associated with HDTVs and smartphones, but the company's camera announcements at the PMA 2010 trade show in Californai made it clear that they're very serious about cameras.
Hot on the heels of the DSLR-like NX10 unveiled at CES and last year's successful DualView point-and-shoot cameras, Samsung introduced a camera with the brightest, fastest lens we've seen in any recent point-and-shoot, and a fast-shooting camera that looks to give Casio's High-Speed Exilim line a run for the money.
Samsung EX1: look out, Canon PowerShot G11
The highest-end announcement of the day is the 10-megapixel Samsung EX1 (which for no apparent reason is called something different in the US, where it's the TL500), which sports an incredibly bright and fast f/1.8 lens as well as a very large sensor for a point-and-shoot camera.
The 0.59-inch CCD sensor in the EX1 is the same size as the sensor found in highly-rated advanced cameras such as the Canon PowerShot G11 and Canon PowerShot S90, and the f/1.8 aperture on the wide-angle end is larger than the aperture on either of those Canon cameras. That should translate to excellent low-light performance and the ability to shoot with very fast shutter speeds, as well as shooting photos with a very shallow depth-of-field when using the TL500.
What's more, the TL500 features an ultra-wide-angle 3x optical zoom lens, ranging from 24mm to 72mm and bolstered by dual optical/digital image stabilization; that 24mm on the wide-angle end offers more coverage than the PowerShot G11 and PowerShot S90.
One glaring omission is the lack of an optical viewfinder on the EX1, which is mitigated quite a bit by the inclusion of a 3-inch-diagonal, swiveling AMOLED screen. The EX1 also offers full manual controls, aperture priority, shutter priority, and RAW shooting capabilities, as well as a beginner-friendly Smart Auto mode.
In a nod to the Olympus Pen EP-2, the EX1 also has a horizonally scrolling control wheel for in-camera settings; unlike the Olympus, the EX1's adjustment wheel is on the front of the camera, where the shooter's index finger might rest on the grip.
The EX1 also records standard-definition (640-by-480) video at 30 frames per second. The intriguing camera is slated for availability in the Spring for around £400.
Samsung WB2800: look out, Casio high-speed cameras
The slick, 10-megapixel (CMOS) Samsung WB2800 (TL350 in the US) has a high-speed shooting mode that takes up to 10 full-resolution snapshots per second, as well as a video mode that captures 1000 frames per second at a highly-reduced resolution (138-by-78 pixels).
In normal video mode, the WB2800 shoots 1080p video at 30fps, and also offers an HDMI-out port for viewing clips on an HDTV.
The WB2800 has a 5x optical zoom lens that matches the WB2800's reach on the wide-angle end: 24mm to 120mm. Full manual controls, aperture priority, shutter priority, Smart Auto mode, RAW shooting, dual optical/digital image stabilization, and a 3-inch AMOLED screen round out the WB2800's bag of tricks.
The Samsung WB2800 is also due in the Spring for around £330.