I'd been hunting around for something less bulky to carry around with me as an alternative to my Canon 40d DSLR camera. I settled on the Samsung EX1 and I'm very happy with its performance.
After having had a look at Nikon, Canon and other offerings, I settled on the EX1 and I'm happy I did. The f1/8 lens appealed and does its job very well - combined with the anti-shake system, it allows you to get quite a few keepers when light levels are low and you manage to use a shutter speed of 1/30 second.
Do not expect fabulous bokeh with this camera - the size of the sensor means it is not at all easy to get the background out of focus (it can just about be done with the macro mode) - something which is very easy to do with my 40d when a Canon 50mm f1/4 lens is bolted on.
I find the Samsung EX1's controls easy to use - the thumb wheels on the front and rear are very comfortable - and will feel familiar to Canon users - my 40d has similar wheels, so the Samsung's felt right almost immediately.
It's very easy to set a 2 second delay for tripod based night shots, for example - just turn the left hand dial. In general, I find changing settings simple and intuitive. The combination of dials and on screen options works well.
The camera offers a high degree of control for reasonably experienced photographers, and the grid line which can be added to the display/view finder is useful for composition, if such things concern you.
With the EX1 I shoot in jpeg - it can do RAW, but when I want to shoot in RAW, I reach for my DSLR.
For lazy or less experienced photographers, there are plenty of scene modes and things like smile detection to play with.
I have to say that the photographic results are very pleasing. Good colours and sharpness, plus noise is kept under control very well unless you go over 400 ISO - but this is a super compact and not a DSLR with a huge sensor, so one cannot expect the world - and the camera is very reasonably priced too. It does not have a huge zoom range - but the 24mm wide angle makes up for this.
If you do get this camera, you may find, as I have done, that certain menu items are 'grayed out' from time to time - which means they cannot be set. Many times this is simply because one of the other settings deactivates certain features.
It is worth making sure the firmware is up to date - I carried out a firmware update and it was painless. Should you still be faced with menu items you cannot get to, then telling the camera to re-set itself does the trick, and is not too painful to do, as I know.
The video function is not state of the art - but then you are not going to get transmission quality video from any camera with such a small sensor. If you are serious about video, either get a dedicated video camera or a Canon 7d or 5d mark 2 - a friend of mine who makes TV ads speaks very highly of both.
So, 5 stars, despite the video. As far as I am concerned, it was its articulated screen which was the winner for me and why I chose the Samsung over a more expensive Olympus model.
If you are looking for a second camera which is not as bulky as a DSLR - it cannot be slipped into your pocket, but can be carried in briefcase or handbag easily - then the EX1 is well worth a look, I'd say.
A Gorillapod tripod, which I have, is a very useful extra, if, like me, you are into taking night shots: Joby Gorillapod GP2 - SLR