The EX2F has a very strong, masculine design. Unlike some of its peers, the EX2F does not have a lens barrel that retracts into the camera body when it’s powered down. Thus, it also comes with a lens cap to protect the lens when it’s not in use. We did notice though, that the lens cap does have a habit of coming off at times when we threw the camera in our bag. Do also take note that the officially stated dimensions do not include the lens barrel, which protrudes a tiny bit past the camera’s hand grip even when powered down.
So while it’s still compact enough to fit into a small bag, you might be hard-pressed to slip it into the back pocket of a more fitting pair of trousers or jeans. However, the EX2F’s hand grip and its slightly thicker dimensions give it a very assuring feel in your hand, which also contributes to a more secure grip.
The body is constructed from magnesium alloy, which is commonly used to construct DSLR bodies as well. This gives the EX2F a very sturdy and premium feeling when you’re handling it. Similar to its predecessor the EX1, the EX2F only supports in-camera charging. This means no removable battery. This presents an inconvenience for those looking to charge a battery pack separately while using a spare to shoot away simultaneously.
At the top plate we have the Power button, which sits flush against the surface though we would have preferred a slightly raised one. The EX2F sports not one, but two dials. One is the drive mode dial which lets you adjust the various timer, continuous shooting and bracketing options while the other is the standard exposure mode selection dial. This may feel odd to those used to handling a conventional compact, but after spending some time shooting with the EX2F, we found that it’s useful to be able to switch from single shot to burst mode with a turn of the dial instead of going through layers of menus.
The built-in flash is located on the left and pops out when you slide the switch. Pushing it back down keeps it out of view again. If you’re not satisfied with the strength of the built-in flash, Samsung has also included a flash hotshoe on the EX2F, which lets you mount an external flashgun.
On the front of the camera you have the AF-assist light and a small wheel located on the hand grip. This wheel is used to adjust the settings for the current exposure mode that you’re shooting in. So you can choose to either use the wheel on the hand grip or the scroll wheel on the rear of the camera to adjust shutter speed while in Tv mode (shutter priority), and tinker with aperture when shooting in aperture priority mode. The wheel adjusts shutter speed while the scroll wheel takes care of the aperture when you're shooting in full manual mode.
Although we found utilizing the wheel to be a useful method of changing settings on the fly, having a control ring similar to those found on the Canon S100 and Sony RX100 is a tad more convenient. How so? Because you will need to take your right forefinger off the shutter release button in order to rotate the dial, while it’s quicker to turn the control ring with your left hand and snap a shot without needing to take your right forefinger off the shutter release button.
The 3-inch AMOLED screen takes up most of the rear of the camera; it’s definitely sharper and has a deeper color saturation when compared to normal LCD screens. It also swivels out, which we found useful when taking shots from unusual angles such as taking shots on ground-level or overhead. Button layout is standard for a digital compact, with the menu button, playback button, delete and function (Fn) button surrounding the navigation pad. The navigation pad is framed by a scroll wheel, which not only lets you navigate the menu system but also adjust the aperture or shutter speed in the respective modes.
The Fn button is a useful button found on most Samsung cameras, which lets you access and change settings on the fly without needing to enter additional sub-menus.
However, you cannot assign functions or settings to the Fn button, so in essence the Function button is more like a Quick Menu button rather than a traditional Function button. In this regard, there’s a definite lack of customization when trying to adapt the handling of the EX2F to suit your shooting style.
Above the Fn button we have the auto exposure lock (AEL) button and the video record button. The AEL button lets you lock down the exposure so you can fire a series of shots with the same exposure setting, which is a welcome addition for the more experienced shutterbug. While the video record button sits flush against the surface of the camera (which we felt was intentional on Samsung’s part to prevent depressing it by accident), there were a few times we still started recording unintentionally.
The EX2F also has built-in Wi-Fi capability so it allows for easy sharing of images and videos via Facebook or Picassa. It also features DLNA device connectivity for output of content. You can even use your Android smartphone or iOS device as a remote viewfinder; this allows you to frame your shots with your smartphone screen and release the camera’s shutter remotely. Accessing all these features is as easy as setting the mode dial to the Wi-Fi option, and selecting the desired feature (check out our preview video below the product shot where we've demoed these features briefly). Handling the camera has proven to be a pretty simple affair, something we suspect was Samsung’s intention all along in order to cater to those who want a fuss-free shooting experience. But for the photography enthusiast, you will be relieved to know that the EX2F also shoots in RAW.