Cameras

Samsung GX-1S Digital Camera Review

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Testing / Performance

Color* (9.97)

*We test color accuracy in a standardized process: shooting an industry-standard GretagMacbeth color chart under tungsten light. We shoot at a variety of settings to discover each camera's potential, and run the resulting images through Imatest software's color testing package to evaluate accuracy. Imatest creates two graphics: the first is a composite based on the camera's image of the GretagMacbeth chart, while the second is based on a color-space diagram.

On the first chart, the large background squares are the colors as the GX-1S recorded them. The vertical rectangles inside those squares are the colors as they should be reproduced, and the small squares are the ideal tones, corrected only for luminance.

GX-1S - Bright Color Mode

GX-1S - Natural Color Mode*

The second graphic shows a circle and square for each color. The square shows the ideal color, the circle shows the GX-1S's rendition, and the distance between the two shows how much error there is.

GX-1S - Bright Color Mode

GX-1S - Natural Color Mode

The GX-1S's Natural mode is much more accurate than its Bright mode, but it still over-saturates color. In Natural mode, the GX-1S oversaturated by 109.1 percent, and showed a 5.74 mean color error. The color error score is comparatively good, but many DSLRs have saturation scores within a few percentage points of the perfect 100. In Bright mode, the GX-1S over-saturated 127.5 percent and had a mean color error of 6.33. The Bright mode scores are less accurate than many point-and-shoots, and create images that are highly unrealistic and impossible to edit. In both modes, the GX-1S oversaturated warm tones in particular, which ought to yield very rosy complexions and bright flowers.

**Still Life Scene

**We have provided two full-resolution shots of our much-loved still-life scene, as captured by the Samsung GX-1S in its two respective color modes.



GX-1S - Bright Color Mode



GX-1S - Natural Color Mode

Click on the images above to view the full resolution files.

Resolution / Sharpness* (3.21)

*A digital camera's resolution isn't simply a matter of how many pixels it records to a file. Images made of pixels can be, and to some extent always are, blurry. No camera delivers the maximum resolution theoretically possible for its pixel count.

Related content

To test how close cameras come to the ideal, we photograph an industry-standard resolution chart. We use a sturdy tripod and bright lights, testing cameras at a variety of focal lengths and apertures to get the best performance each camera can deliver. After analyzing the images with Imatest software, , a leading package for testing camera performance, we report our results in line widths per picture height, (lw/ph). This measure is independent of the sensor’s physical dimensions , allowing the direct comparison of any two digital cameras, regardless of sensor size.



Click on the image above to view the full res version.

The Samsung GX-1S achieved its best results at ISO 200, with the lens set at 55mm and f/11. The GX-1S's image delivered 1253 lw/ph horizontally, with 0.403 percent oversharpening, and 1458 lw/ph vertically, with 7.32 percent oversharpening.

The GX-1S's results are considerably worse than other 6-megapixel DSLRs, delivering about half the resolution such a file size could theoretically record. In practical terms, the GX-1S's images shouldn't look sharp as 8x10-inch prints, while shots from better-performing 6-megapixel DSLRs will look excellent.

Noise – Auto ISO* (8.23)

*"Noise" is texture in an image which isn't part of the subject matter. In film photos, it's called grain; in bad television reception it's called static; and, in all media, it detracts from a detailed rendering of the subject The GX-1S performed very well in our noise test for the Auto ISO setting, offering almost exactly the noise performance the camera would deliver if set manually to ISO 200.The GX-1S's option for setting an upper limit on the ISO in auto is responsible.

Noise – Manual ISO* (12.32)

*We tested the GX-1S for noise at each available ISO setting.  The results are plotted in the graph below; the horizontal axis displays the ISO settings, while the vertical axis indicates the corresponding noise levels.

The GX-1S delivered very good noise performance in manual mode as well. When the image mode is set to "Natural," rather than "Bright," the GX-1S surpasses the performance of the similar Pentax *ist DL. The two cameras' noise curves are very similar. Notably, the GX-1S's noise level increases gradually at higher ISOs – there isn't a single point at which the GX-1S suddenly deteriorates precipitously.

Low Light Performance* (6.5)

*Our low-light testing involves taking long exposures at high ISOs. We run the tests at 60, 30, 15 and 5 lux. 60 lux corresponds to subdued indoor lighting. 30 lux is dim, like a living room lit with a single 40-watt bulb. 5 lux is barely light enough to see. We look at both noise and color performance in low light and test cameras' noise-reduction routines in the process.

GX-1S-LowLightNoiseCH.jpg

The GX-1S has an effective noise reduction system. With it, the GX-1S performed well – far better than without. Noise reduction didn't make a difference with 2-second exposures, but it kicked in at exposures of 4 to 6 seconds. At 10 seconds, it cut noise in half. At 30 seconds, an exposure without noise reduction was 2.5 times noisier than and had almost twice the color error of an image taken with noise reduction. Any noise reduction system will decrease resolution, however, and the GX-1S has relatively poor resolution to start with. Still, the improvement in color and noise means that shooting the GX-1S without noise reduction is not an option.

**Dynamic Range ***(7.25)

*Many photographs include both bright and dark subjects. Even with film cameras, it was a challenge to record the full range of light and dark that many scenes present. Unfortunately, digital cameras have not solved the problem. In fact, the failure to capture a full range of tones is one of the most common problems with digital photos. The span from light to dark is called dynamic range, and we use Imatest software to compare how well cameras capture it. We photograph a standard Stouffer test target with a very large dynamic range. Imatest analysis shows us how wide a range of tones the camera catches at various quality levels. We track High Quality, which measures the range with noise levels no higher than 1/10 of an EV, and Low Quality, which measures the range with noise up to 1 whole EV.

The GX-1S did a good job on our dynamic range test. At ISO 200, its Low-Quality result, 11.4 EV, is the best we have recorded. The more significant ISO 200 High-Quality result, 6.92 EV, was more typical, but still very good for an entry-level camera. At high ISOs, the GX-1S's range doesn't match the best high-end DSLRs, but it’s better than its price competition.

GX-1S Dynamic Range - ISO 200

GX-1S Dynamic Range - ISO 3200

**Speed / Timing

***Start-up to First Shot (9.02)

*Our best speed, from turning on the GX-1S to getting an image, was 0.9 seconds. That's a bit slow for a DSLR. Most turn in results of around half a second.

*Shot to Shot Time (9.24)

*The GX-1S shot 8 JPEG frames at 2.65 frames per second. That's slow. Most sub-$1000 DSLRs shoot at about 3 frames per second, so the GX-1S doesn't compare well. Worse, two and a half frames per second won't keep up with sports action or the more active kinds of snap shooting. This speed is a real limitation.

*Shutter to Shot Time (8.08)

*The GX-1S was also slow to get off shots as the shutter was pressed. Our typical delay was 0.4 seconds when the camera wasn't prefocused. When we prefocused, the GX-1S still disappointed: our typical delay remained 0.17 seconds, much slower than other DSLRs.

Physical Tour

Front* (6.5)

*The Samsung GX-1S has the general features of a conventional-looking DSLR: a hand grip on the left side, a large lens mount in roughly the center of the body, and a viewfinder hump directly above the mount. On the right side of the lens mount is a sliding switch which sets the camera to auto or manual focus, while the lens release button is on the left side. The grip is covered with comfortable leather-textured rubber and, like the edge of the camera, has ridges rather than smooth curves. We found that these ridges made the camera less comfortable to hold, though some users might like them. The grip face has a window for the self-timer light and infrared remote control. Visible badges include the Samsung logo on the viewfinder hump, "GX" on the right shoulder, and a "1S" on a squishy button just below the GX.

GX1S_front.jpg

**Back ***(7.5)

*The back of the GX-1S will look familiar to most DLSR users. It is dominated by a 2.5-inch, 210,000-pixel LCD, above which is an optical viewfinder with a large rubber eyecup. The rubber nearly covers a sliding tab above the cup which controls the diopter adjustment. Left of the eyepiece is the flash pop-up button, and the control dial and exposure lock button are to the right. Four buttons to the left of the LCD activate the menu, image deletion, information, and playback. To the right of the LCD is a 4-way controller with an "OK" button in the center. A function button is below, and below that is a status light which indicates when images are being written to memory. In the far lower right corner of the back, the memory card door latch is set flush. It's great to see a latch on the door: it makes accidentally opening the door far less likely. A ridge rises up along the right side of the back, apparently to form a thumb rest.

GX1S_back.jpg


**Left Side ***(7.0)

*The GX-1S has a wide, sturdy strap lug high on the left side and a long, flimsy door covering its ports. The door is lightweight and spring-loaded, but unfortunately lacks the latch that protects the media card door. It is more likely to break off than the rubber doors common on many cameras, and is not sealed against moisture or dust, which could lead to maintenance problems.

Right Side* (7.0)

*The right strap lug is high and wide, out of the way when one grips the camera. The SD media card door is flush on the right side of the GX-1S, and doesn't detract from the feel of the grip.

Top*(7.5) *

The GX-1S's 13-position mode dial, which sets the camera to various scene, manual, and partially manual modes, is to the left of the viewfinder hump. The dial turns a full 360 degrees, so there is no need to rotate it more than half a turn to get to any setting. A pop-up flash springs from the viewfinder hump, and a hot shoe, which accepts standard flashes as well as dedicated units from Samsung or Pentax, sits behind it. The monochrome LCD on top of the camera displays shooting information in large icons and characters for easy readability. It's easy to read, mainly because the icons and characters are large.

An exposure compensation button is conveniently located between the LCD and the shutter release, allowing the user to access exposure compensation without moving their index finger far from the release. The button is used in conjunction with the control dial, which is right under the user's thumb. The power switch, which doubles as a depth-of-field preview, is a ring around the shutter release and the release itself is a relatively small, smooth, chrome button.

Bottom* (6.5)

*Underneath the grip, the GX-1S’s battery compartment door is closed with a secure latch.

The metal tripod socket is aligned with the lens axis, which makes lining up subjects easier when the camera is on a tripod. A few small bumps at the corners are meant to protect the otherwise smooth bottom from scuffing on a flat surface. We’d rather see a rubberized patch, which would keep the camera from sliding around and protect it from tripod studs.

Components

Viewfinder*(6.25) *

The GX-1S's viewfinder is comfortable and bright, bigger and better-looking than other budget-DSLR viewfinders. Since the GX-1S has a pentaprism rather than a less-efficient pentamirror, its viewfinder should also be brighter than those of competing cameras. The display shows two sets of brackets on the screen, indicating the autofocus frame, while the active autofocus point itself lights up. A small central frame shows the spot metering area. Flash status, focus confirmation, exposure mode, exposure compensation, shutter speed, aperture, the number of images left in memory, exposure lock, manual focus, and manual white balance all appear on the display under the screen. The data is easy to read and visible to users who wear glasses.

GX1S_LCD.jpg
LCD Screen* (7.5)

*The GX-1S's LCD screen is a strong point: the 2.5-inch, 210,000-pixel LCD is sharp and bright enough to be readable in sunlight, though not to evaluate images in sun. We found it good enough to evaluate image sharpness at its maximum magnification of 12x. Its weak point is its angle of view: it solarizes significantly when viewed from above or below, and is only slightly better from the sides. Groups of people who want to check out images together shouldn’t use this LCD.


Flash*(6.5) *

The GX-1S's pop-up flash underexposed by a full stop at its normal setting, and we noted falloff in the corners when the kit lens was at its widest. The flash is rated for lenses down to 28mm, not the 18mm that the kit lens offers. Setting the exposure compensation can fix the flash exposure, but shouldn’t generally be necessary. With the GX-1S, it happened consistently: close-up, far away, light subjects and dark. The maximum range for the flash, with the kit lens and ISO set to auto, seems to be about 16 feet.

GX1S_flash.jpg

Lens* (6.0)

*The Schneider-Kreuznach D-Xenon f/3.5-5.6 18mm – 55mm kit lens is typical of low-cost kit zoom lenses. We noticed some color fringing and barrel distortion at the wide-angle setting. The mount is not the lightest-weight we've ever seen – the bayonet itself is metal, and the zoom ring is wide and doesn't rattle. All in all, the name doesn't mean all that much; the lens doesn't match those that Schneider-Kreuznach produces for professional cameras.

Design / Layout

**Model Design / Appearance ***(7.0)

The GX-1S is the second Samsung DSLR we've examined that appears to be a Pentax, and greatly resembles the Pentax **ist DS2. Certainly, its appearance isn't different enough to suggest that they came from different designers. For the GX-1S, this is a strength, as the *ist cameras are compact, sturdy and attractive. Though we don't find the ridges on the grips comfortable, we're sure that they'll fit some user's hands nicely. The GX-1S's look is pared-down, simple, and pleasantly utilitarian.

GX1S_modeldesign.jpg

Size / Portability* (8.0)

*The GX-1S is about as small as DSLRs should get, smaller than some all-in-one cameras.. In part, that's because of the lenses: the largest all-in-one models have long zoom lenses, and the GX-1S does not. Still, carrying the GX-1S with the kit lens and a f/ 1.8 50mm lens wouldn't be very different from carrying a super zoom compact. Trading low-light capability for zoom range is a good idea for many users, and this would be a cheap way to do it.

**Handling Ability ***(6.5)

*The grip on the GX-1S doesn't fit our hands well. Some users of the identically-shaped Pentax *ist cameras love the grip, but we don't get it – the ridges just hit our fingers in the wrong places.

On the other hand, we like the clean, uncluttered interface. Everything is easy to find, in part because there aren't a bunch of extra decorations or controls. The shooting displays aren't physically big, but, because good design choices were made, the text on them is large and easy

GX1S_controls.jpg
to read.

Control Button / Dial Positioning / Size*(6.5) *

The controls are in the right places and big enough to be easily usable. They feel sturdy, but not stiff. As is standard on DSLRs this small and inexpensive, the GX-1S has only one control dial. This is unfortunate, as having one dial for aperture and another for shutter speed makes cameras much easier to operate.

The GX-1S's oversized mode dial and depth of field preview on the power switch are advantages in their own right and indicate general attention to the controls. Even the diopter adjustment, which is difficult to use, is well-executed. Because it's hard to move, it's unlikely to be shifted accidentally.

Menu*(7.0)*The GX-1S allows a range of user control, most of which is accessed through menus which are subdivided into categories. The menu display is easy to read, and the controls are straightforward. 

The Playback menu offers controls over the display and editing of existing images.

The Custom Settings menu allows the user to modify many controls and camera behaviors.

The "Fn" button accesses shooting controls that are menu-based but changed more frequently than the other menu items.

Fn brings up other controls in Playback mode. 

**Ease of Use ***(7.0) *

The GX-1S is easy to use. Its auto modes are straightforward and easy to set with the mode dial. Manual controls are also straightforward. While they'd be quicker with a second control dial, there isn't anything confusing about them. In all, we found the GX-1S to be about as intuitive as any DSLR we've tested.

Samsung bucks the trend by providing a clearly-written, well-organized, well-designed, and well-indexed instruction manual. If there's anything a little odd about the interface, it's the abbreviations in the menus. "ISO Snstvty Wrn Dsply" is a bit shaggy, but we can't imagine that will prevent anyone from getting full use from the camera.

Modes

Auto Mode*****(7.5) *

The GX-1S's Auto mode controls aperture, shutter speed, and white balance. ISO defaults to automatic, but can be manually set. Metering and autofocus patterns can be manually set, as can file resolution and quality, but image parameters including saturation, contrast, and sharpening are automated. This mode is included in the scene modes. It's called "Normal."

Custom Image Presets ***(7.5)*The GX-1S has seven scene modes, including Normal.  This is a reasonably sizable selection for DSLRs, and should accommodate most users graduating from compact cameras. ** **Drive / Burst Mode*** (6.25)

*The GX-1S delivered a little better than 2.5 frames per second in burst mode in our tests. Though that's not as good as some competing cameras (the Nikon D50 and the Canon Rebel XT both hit 3 fps), it is in the ballpark. However, while burst shooting with the GX-1S may be convenient for shooting portraits, the burst is not fast enough for high-speed sports or wildlife.

One particularly nice feature on the GX-1S is that the self timer engages the mirror lockup. When users depress the shutter with the self timer on, the mirror automatically locks up and begins the countdown. This is an incredibly simple and logical feature that we wish all cameras included.

****

SamsungGX1S-PlaybackDisplay.gif
Playback Mode* (7.5)

*The GX-1S's playback mode benefits enormously from the camera's excellent LCD. At 2.5 inches and 210,000 pixels, it provides clear text and a very good view of images. The GX-1S can show 9 thumbnail images at a time, 1 image, full-frame, 1 image with shooting data, or an image magnified up to 12x. Images can be deleted one at a time, in groups, by selecting them from the thumbnail display, or all at once. The GX-1S also allows the user to protect images from deletion. Slideshow view displays all the images on the SD card in succession, at an interval which can be set anywhere from 3 to 30 seconds.

Movie Mode* (0.0)

*The GX-1S does not offer a movie mode, as conventional DSLRs are not capable of shooting video.

Control Options

**Manual Control Options

**The GX-1S offers a full set of manual controls, including aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and focus. It also offers a range of parameter settings. The controls are convenient to use and accessible, though a second control dial would speed up manual control.

**Focus

***Auto Focus (6.0)

*The GX-1S has 11-point autofocus, which, in the abstract, is better than 3, 5 or 7-point autofocus. Unfortunately, we found that the GX 1 didn't perform as well as its specs would suggest, particularly in low light situations. While all cameras perform worse in low light than bright, the GX-1S's performance decreases more quickly than that of others. Oddly, we sometimes had to power-cycle the camera to get it to re-focus after it got lost. That said, the GX-1S was spot-on in good light, and the small sensors made it convenient to choose very specific spots, such as the eye in a portrait, for focus. –

*Manual Focus (6.25)

*The GX-1S's viewfinder is bright and comparatively large for a low-cost DSLR, and we found manual focus pretty easy in good light. Of course, we'd rather focus with a brighter lens than the f/ 3.5-5.6 kit lens, and we expect that low-light manual focus won’t appeal to many users because of the lens aperture.

Exposure* (5.75)

**

SamsungGX1S-ModeDisplay-FA.gif
*The GX-1S offers a full manual exposure mode, in which the user sets both aperture and shutter speed while the camera shows how close the set EV is to the meter reading. It also offers a Program mode, which sets both aperture and shutter speed automatically, an Aperture priority mode that sets a shutter speed automatically to match the user's chosen aperture, and a Shutter priority mode that allows the user to make the adjustments manually. In Bulb mode, the GX-1S can take long exposures, as long as the user holds down the shutter release, but it does not offer exposure metering. This is a complete range of options for manual shooting, and similar to other DSLRs.

Surprisingly, we found the camera’s aperture and shutter speed-priority modes consistently underexposed images by over a stop. This was true even in predominantly dark-toned scenes. When compared to an incident reading, the meter consistently required another stop or two.

**Metering ***(6.75)

*The GX-1S's 3 metering patterns are multi-zone, center-weighted, and spot. Multi-zone is standard for automated shooting. It evaluates and compares luminance in 16 areas across the frame in order to settle on a final exposure. The system should be able to account for backlighting and other difficult metering conditions. We found that the GX-1S retained detail in backlit subjects when using multi-zone metering, but that it generally compromised too much. The subject was still too dark, and the background retained detail we didn't care about. Setting the exposure manually, we would have gone one way or the other.

The Spot zone is a tight spot at the center of the frame and is most useful for manual shooting. It worked well and corresponded closely with the spot indicator in the viewfinder. The Center-weighted mode worked fine, and might be useful for shooting landscapes and evenly-lit scenes.

White Balance* (7.5)

*The GX-1S offers automatic white balance in its scene modes, with presets and a manual custom white balance in manual and part-manual modes. The presets cover daylight, shade, cloudy skies, 3 types of fluorescent tubes, tungsten, and flash. It’s also possible to set manual white balances by integrating the whole frame or just the spot-metering area. We found that the outdoor presets produced pleasing color, as did the Auto setting. The manual setting works as well, though we had trouble setting it in low light.

ISO*(8.75)

*The GX-1S offers ISOs from 200 to 3200, in full EV increments. High ISOs are very grainy, and the GX-1S offers 2 utilities to remind the user of that. A custom setting allows the user to limit the ISO range in Auto mode, while another lights up a warning in the viewfinder when the camera is set to high ISOs. It would have also been nice if a lower minimum sensitivity setting was included to afford users a bit more control over aperture in bright daylight conditions.

Shutter Speed* (7.75)

*The GX-1S's shutter runs from 30 seconds to 1/4000, plus Bulb. Bulb, for time exposures, is treated as a separate exposure mode rather than a shutter speed. The maximum flash sync on the GX-1S is 1/180 of a second.

Aperture*(6.0) *

The GX-1S adjusts apertures in either 1/2 or 1/3-stop increments. The kit lens has a maximum aperture of f/3.5 at 18mm and 5.6 at 55mm. Many users will find the aperture range limiting in low light. Not only will it drive up the usable ISO and require longer shutter speeds, it decreases the effectiveness of the autofocus system and makes manual focus and composition more difficult.

Image Parameters

Picture Quality / Size Options* (8.25)

*The GX-1S's four image resolutions are 6 megapixels, 4 megapixels and 1.5 megapixels. 4 is good for snapshots, and 1.5 is good for computer screens – emails, the web and PowerPoint, for example. The GX-1S shoots RAW format at full resolution and also offers three JPEG compression levels: Super Fine, Fine, and Normal. Fine files are about half the size of Super Fine files, and Normal is 1/3 to 1/4 the size of Super Fine. We recommend sticking with Super Fine for all uses, as the higher compression levels really damage image quality.

Picture Effects Mode* (6.25)

*The GX-1S offers two sets of adjustments: shooting adjustments, including sharpness, contrast and saturation; and post-processing "filters" which alter existing images to create black-and-white, sepia, softened, or distorted copies.

The shooting options have a significant, and generally negative, effect on images. Users who want to adjust color and sharpness will get much better results shooting RAW or, to a lesser extent, JPEG, with Image Tone set to "Natural" rather than "Bright" so the images can be edited on a computer.

Connectivity / Extras

**Connectivity

***Software (6.5)

*The GX-1S ships with Digimax Master software, a Windows-only package for editing and organizing both JPEGs and RAW files. Digimax offers a full suite of editing and printing functions.

 

*Jacks, Ports, Plugs (7.5)

*The GX-1S has a USB 2.0 port, an analog video output, a jack for an external power supply, though Samsung doesn't include a power supply, a hot shoe, a jack for a wired remote control, and a sensor for an infrared remote control.

*Direct Print Options (6.5)

*The GX-1S supports DPOF and PictBridge for printing without a computer. Users can select images to print, the number and size of prints, whether to print borders, whether to print the shooting date, and on PictBridge printers, the paper type and quality. This is an extensive implementation of direct-printing standards, and better than many competing cameras offer.

*Battery (6.75)

*The GX-1S takes 4 AA batteries. We used NiMH rechargeables and had to change them pretty often. Our experience is that cameras which take custom Lithium-ion cells usually have longer life than those which take AA cells.

*Memory (3.0)

*The GX-1S accepts SD media cards, a very popular storage medium for digital cameras. SD cards are durable, widely available, and, megabyte for megabyte, an inexpensive media format.

Other Features* (6.25)

Sensor Cleaning -* The GX-1S's sensor cleaning function acknowledges that the obvious sensors on interchangeable-lens cameras will get dirty and that it is practical to provide users with a way to clean them.

*Moveable Spot AE - *The link AF point to AE option allows the user to inform the camera of the frame’s area to ensure proper exposure. This feature is so often useful that we think it ought to be on every advanced camera.

Depth of Field Preview - The depth-of-field preview on the power switch is a big convenience, so much so that it may encourage users to check depth-of-field more often.

*Automatic Flash Engagement - *The flash automatically pops up when it's needed in scene modes. Many competing cameras blink a warning light and still take black pictures when the flash should be turned on but isn't.

Overall Impressions

**Comparisons **

*Nikon D50 - *The low end of the Nikon line is the D50. Like the GX-1S, this is a 6-megapixel DSLR sold with an 18-55mm zoom. The Nikon goes for about $650 online with that lens. For another $150, the D50 comes in a kit with a 55-200mm zoom. Though the Nikon's autofocus looks less sophisticated, with 5 focus points instead of 11, the autofocus on the D50 performed much better for us. The Nikon lacks an ISO 3200 setting, but the GX-1S's performance at 3200 is incredibly noisy. So, for the same $800, with an extra lens, the Nikon looks like a better deal.

Canon EOS Rebel XT -The Canon Rebel XT is an entry-level DSLR with 8-megapixel resolution and image quality that takes advantage of the extra 2 million pixels. For the same $800, it offers better image quality than the GX-1S and somewhat better autofocus, though a less sturdy chassis. The Rebel XT also comes with a lithium-ion battery, which should last longer between recharges than the non-included NiMH AA's in the GX-1S

Pentax *ist DS - As far as we can tell, with the logos covered, the GX-1S and the Pentax **ist DS are virtually the same camera. Spokespeople for Samsung at the Photo Marketing Association convention this February, in fact, said that the GX 1L is a Pentax with their logo on it; Pentax had no comment. We haven't examined an **ist DS, but as far as specifications are concerned, the 2 cameras are a lot alike.


 ** **

Value*****(6.5)

*The things we like about the GX-1S are important – it's a solidly-built camera with straightforward, easy-to-use controls – but they don't overcome some of the camera's performance deficiencies and problematic autofocus. For the same $800, a consumer can enter the DSLR market and get a Nikon D50 with 2 lenses and better image quality, or a Canon Rebel XT with similarly better performance and 30 percent higher resolution.

It's great to see another camera built around Pentax's excellent KA lens mount, especially one which allows the use of Pentax screw-mount lenses. The industry leaders ought to have more competition. At this price point, however, it's clear why they're so dominant: they offer a better product.

Who It’s For

Point-and-Shooters - The GX-1S should appeal to point-and-shooters. Its scene modes are clear and useful and its interface is simple and appealing.

*Budget Consumers - *Though the GX-1S is not expensive, given its specs, other cameras perform better for equal or less money.

*Gadget Freaks - *No love here. The GX-1S is not at any particular technological forefront. It has no live previews, image stabilization, or peculiar sensors to brag about. Those looking for innovation should seek elsewhere.

Manual Control Freaks - The GX-1S has full manual controls. The only things lacking are 1/3-EV steps on the ISO scale and white balance fine-tune. Manual control freaks, however, are usually also image quality freaks, and the GX-1S doesn't deliver on that front.

*Pros/Serious Amateurs - *The GX-1S doesn't offer the image quality this market is after. We also expect that, if they are looking for a sub-$1000 DSLR, they'll go with one that's compatible with their high-end cameras.

Conclusion

 

**Conclusion **

The GX-1S is a puzzling camera. It seems to be a re-branded Pentax rather than a new camera from Samsung. Our hope had been that Samsung would shake up the entry-level DSLR market with its own products, but this camera is either a Pentax or so close that the differences really don't matter.

Nonetheless, at under $800, the 6-megapixel GX-1S does have a lot to offer consumers. With a bright 2.5-inch 210,000 pixel LCD, strong color reproduction, and reasonable noise handling, the GX-1S is poised to compete with entry-level DSLRs and compact ultra zoom models. The camera has some nice design features (mirror lockup connected to the self timer, depth-of-field preview formed around the shutter release, and spot metering linked to movable AF points), but sacrifices speed and autofocus in the process.

While there’s a lot to like about the camera, the few deficiencies in the GX-1S, namely slow autofocus and unreliable metering, are unfortunately more excusable in a compact model than a DSLR. For consumers considering purchasing an ultra zoom, the high sensitivity, expanded functionality, and customization available on the GX-1S might be worth sacrificing the longer fixed lens. However, those interested in buying their first DSLR and investing in an imaging system might be better off saving a little extra money and purchasing a slightly stronger model.

Specs / Ratings

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