Samsung's first digital SLR has a 24-million-lens headstart.
As might be expected, picking up the GX-1S is like meeting an old friend. The camera's shutter button, input dial, and jog dial are located right where your index finger and thumb expect them. Set to multipoint array with autoselection, the autofocus does an excellent job of finding a focus point quickly, usually giving priority to a nearer object over a farther one, and to objects closer to the center of the frame. With light pressure on the shutter button, you can touch up the focus manually with the front lens ring before firing.
We like the glass prism, not because the view is any brighter than the penta-mirror used in the lower-rung Pentax and Samsung models -- it isn't -- but because the camera status indicators in the viewfinder are bigger, brighter, and much easier for eyeglass-wearers to see.
The GX cameras should be arriving in retail stores as you read this. They are expected to be carried in both camera specialty shops and large electronics retailers.
As far as introductions go, Samsung could've done far worse than the GX-1S, with its nice handling, pleasing picture quality, and compatibility with scads of existing lenses. But it's also an aging platform whose resolution trails that of the rest of the league. And in the hot DSLR category, "good enough" is rarely good enough.
If you want to save $100 on a Samsung DSLR, you can opt for the Digimax GX-1L, which is, as you may have guessed, essentially the Pentax *ist DL (actually, the overseas-only *ist DL2).
Major differences: It has a pentamirror viewfinder instead of a glass pentaprism, a simple five-point autofocus array, and a slightly lower maximum burst rate. With the 18-55mm Schneider D-Xenon kit lens, the suggested retail price is $599.