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Samsung Digimax GX-1S

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Samsung Digimax GX-1S Digital SLR Camera

    TechHive Rating

Samsung Digimax GX-1S
Photograph: Chris Manners

The Samsung Digimax GX-1S ($800 as of 5/5/06) is an entry-level digital SLR that's very similar to the Pentax *ist D2. Though the name on the front says Samsung, the camera has the same small, sturdy body and features as Pentax's latest entry-level offering. The two SLRs differ only in some minor cosmetic details and include different lens kits.

Overall, the GX-1S delivers perfectly acceptable prints for its target market. Its 6.1-megapixel sensor delivers up to 3008-by-2000-pixel images. The camera is compatible with all Pentax KAF-mount lenses, as well as with Schneider's D-Xenon series lenses. I tested the camera with its included lens kit, a Schneider f/3.5-5.6 18mm-55mm (28mm-84mm, 35mm-equivalent focal length).

The Schneider lens is compact, and the GX-1S delivers very good images, with nice color and good contrast. The camera breaks down on fine details; depending on your typical print sizes, however, this may not matter. There were low levels of noise up to ISO 400, and passable levels at ISO 800 (though you'll see noticeable noise artifacts, even when printing at small sizes). ISO 1600 is not useful unless you're willing to accept very stylized, noisy, grungy images.

The GX-1S is a well-built, well-designed camera that is small but doesn't feel cramped. Even if you have large hands, you will be able to get a firm, comfortable grip on the camera. The controls are simple: On the top are a power switch, a mode selection dial, and an exposure compensation control, alongside a status LCD. The back of the camera presents a bright, 2.5-inch LCD screen, some control buttons, and a four-way rocker switch to select further options.

The uncomplicated design makes the camera easy to learn for beginners, and its feature set provides all of the options a beginning to intermediate photographer would want. It includes a full assortment of priority and manual modes, as well as auto bracketing, drive modes, adjustable ISOs (from 100 to 1600 in one-stop increments), three metering modes, and RAW format.

The camera's control layout is so simple because many of its controls have been relegated to in-camera menus. While the essential settings like shooting mode and exposure compensation are accessible via external controls, any other adjustment will require a trip into the menu system, which can be a problem if you need to shoot quickly.

You get to secondary options such as ISO, white balance, flash mode, and metering mode by pressing a button on the back of the camera and then using the four-way rocker switch to select an option. This is not a bad mechanism, but it can be slow, and photographers who are used to making speedy adjustments will be a little frustrated. Color LCD screens can be difficult to read in full daylight, and though the GX-1S has a very good LCD, you might find yourself squinting to make menu selections in bright situations.

The Samsung Digimax GX-1S is a little expensive when compared with competitors such as the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT, considering that the Rebel XT offers more controls, better image quality, and a larger selection of lenses. As with any digital SLR, it's best to get your hands on the GX-1S before making a decision. Its small size and thoughtful design may make it your obvious first choice.

Ben Long

This story, "Samsung Digimax GX-1S" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • TechHive Rating

    This SLR is sturdy and well-designed, but image quality is below par and lens selection limited.

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