Over the last couple of years, the main players in the digital camera market have focused on the digital SLR as an area in which there is less competition, and perhaps more opportunity for profit. Consumer electronics companies have noted the trend as well, and the big three - Panasonic, Samsung, and Sony have all announced alliances with traditional camera companies to help them ease their initial steps in the DSLR arena. Samsung's alliance, revealed in late 2005, saw the company joining forces with Pentax.
The first Samsung-branded digital SLR offering is the GX-1S, and given the short time that has passed since the alliance was formed, it isn't surprising to find that the '1S is a straightforward rebadging of an existing Pentax model - the Pentax *ist DS2. That's not to say there are no changes beyond the logo - it is certainly conceivable that Samsung could have tweaked the firmware, made changes to the components used in the design, or used different coatings on the kit lenses, for example. Still, overall it is likely that the GX-1S will be largely similar to its Pentax sibling. The Samsung GX-1S has a sensor resolution of six megapixels, and accepts lenses using the Pentax KAF lens mount. Alongside the camera, Samsung launched two lenses branded as "Schneider-Kreuznach D-XENON", which again look to be rebadged variants of existing Pentax lenses, as well as a Pentax flash strobe under the Samsung label.
Focusing can be controlled automatically or manually, and uses an 11-point phase detection system to determine focus. Images can be framed using a fixed eye-level pentaprism optical viewfinder, and reviewed on a 2.5" LCD display. A choice of program, aperture- and shutter-priority or manual exposure modes; multi, center-weighted or spot metering; shutter speeds from 30 - 1/4000 second; user-selectable ISO sensitivity from 200 - 3200 equivalent, plus ten white balance modes including fully manual white balance offer a choice of automatic control or let you cater to your creative side. A five-mode flash strobe and seven scene modes are also available, along with a two or twelve-second self timer.
The GX-1S stores images on optional Secure Digital or MultiMediaCards, in either Raw (uncompressed) or JPEG (compressed) formats. Connectivity includes both NTSC / PAL switcheable video output and a USB 2.0 Hi-Speed computer link, as well as a DC input connection for powering the camera when batteries are impractical (in a photo studio, for example). Power otherwise comes from a four AA or 2 CR-V3 batteries including disposable types, offering a little extra versatility when you're on the road and can't get to a power point to charge up.