Samsung seems to be following the industry trend of baptising its mirrorless system cameras with numbers that no one can remember.
This year, it named its DSLR-style mirrorless camera the NX30. Last year, its flagship rangefinder-style mirrorless camera was NX300, while the entry level one was NX2000.
And now, the mid-range NX3000 is here - sandwiched between the NX30 and the newest entry-level model, the NX mini.
Like the NX300, the NX3000 sports a retro rangefinder-like body. Much of it is covered in faux leather - white, black and brown (we tested the brown) - with top and bottom in a silver metallic finish. It has no built-in electronic viewfinder or flash. The bundled external flip-up flash can be attached to the hot shoe.
The touchscreen display found in both NX300 and NX2000 is gone, replaced by a smaller display that can be tilted upwards to 180 degrees - but not downwards.
Like the NX mini, this camera starts up automatically when you flip the display 180 degrees. Press the shutter release when the camera is in this position and it automatically triggers a 3sec timer for a selfie.
You can send the selfie to a Near Field Communication (NFC)-enabled Android smartphone. Download the Samsung Smart Camera app and tap your NFC-enabled Android smartphone on the left side of the camera at the NFC logo to pair for photo transfer or remote control.
The Mode dial, the power button, the shutter release and the Wi-Fi button are on top. The Menu, Function and dedicated video-recording button are sited near the thumb rest at the back of the camera for easy access.
With the 16-50mm f/3.5-f/5.6 i-Function kit lens attached, you can also use its i-Function button to quickly access oft-used settings, such as aperture and shutter speed. Overall, handling is not bad for an entry-level mirrorless camera.
My only gripe is the placement of the Wi-Fi button between the shutter release and hot shoe.
So I found myself hitting the Wi-Fi button when I needed to switch on the camera. That Wi-Fi button should swop places with the power button that sits behind the shutter release.
In operation, this camera is quite fast. Start-up and shutdown take about 1.5sec, when most of its peers clock around 2sec.
Using a microSD card with a write speed of 10MB per second, I was able to shoot five RAW images in 0.9sec before the buffer ran out.
Autofocus (AF) is accurate and fast in good lighting with the kit lens. With the aid of AF assist light, it can lock onto a focus in dim lighting conditions within two seconds or less. In video recording, the AF locks on to a new focus within a second whenever you pan to a new scene.
Image quality is good, with crisp details and great colour reproduction. But there seems to be too much sharpening done in the JPEG images.
Image noise is kept low till ISO 1,600. Even at ISO 3,200, there is only a slight loss of details. But avoid using ISO 6,400 or faster speeds.
Videos are sharp and clean, with not too much distracting ambient audio and lens' AF audio.
On a full charge, it is able to capture 350 frames, which is average for a mirrorless camera.
At only $699, NX3000 represents great value for money for those looking for their first mirrorless camera.
This article was published on Aug 6 in Digital Life, The Straits Times.
Get a copy of Digital Life, The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.