Samsung, best known for its smartphones, also makes good cameras. Its latest, the NX1, continues that trend.
In typical Samsung fashion, the NX1 is packed with features, which include an autofocusing (AF) system with 205 phase-detection AF points, 15 frames per second (fps) continuous shooting speed, 4K (4,096 x 2,160 pixels) and UHD (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) video-recording, built-in Bluetooth, Near Field Communication and Wi-Fi. All this in a dust- and water-resistant magnesium body.
I was mildly surprised there was no stylus for the touchscreen display.
In looks and size, it resembles a DSLR, but in reality, it is a mirrorless camera that lacks an optical viewfinder which many serious photographers prefer.
However, its built-in 2.36-million-dot electronic viewfinder (EVF) is said to have a lag of only 5 milliseconds. It is also big and sharp and one of the best EVFs I have used. Alternatively, you can use the 3-inch Amoled touchscreen, which can be flipped upwards by 90 degrees and downwards by 45 degrees.
The body has a sturdy and solid build, while its ergonomic rubberised front grip and rear thumb rest provide one with a firm grasp of the camera.
On its own, the body weighs 550g. However, with the NX 16-50mm f/2.0-f/2.8 lens which was used for this review, it weighs about 1.2kg. This would still be lighter than many mid-range DSLRs.
A lot of thought has gone into the layout, with many buttons within easy reach. A lockable mode dial sits on top, with a command dial sited behind the shutter release. On the back is another command dial and a clickable wheel dial.
At the top left, you will find a shooting drive dial. On top of this dial are four super-slim buttons for quick access to AF, metering, white balance and ISO options. At times, these small buttons get in the way, but overall handling is still good.
It does not operate as swiftly as a conventional DSLR. Starting up takes about 1sec, while shutting down takes about 3sec. This is normal by mirrorless camera standards.
Using an SD card with a writing speed rated at 25MB per second, the NX1 was able to shoot 19 RAW images in 1.1sec before the buffer ran out. Shutter lag is negligible.
When using either the EVF or the screen to focus, the AF is equally fast in capturing stills and video. In bright sunlight, AF is instantaneous and follows the action, such as a toddler speeding towards a favourite toy, well enough. In dim conditions, it can take up to 3sec to focus, even with the help of AF-assist light.
In video capture, it automatically locks onto a focus in 2sec when panning from a scene to another, even in dim lighting.
The image quality is superb. Details are crisp, skin tones are smooth and colour reproduction is accurate. However, the corners of the images exhibit some softness.
Image noise performance is quite good with no noise artefacts before ISO 3,200. At ISO 6,400, you will see chromatic noise artefacts with slight loss of details. I do not recommend using anything above ISO 6,400.
Both UHD and 4K video-recording are equally splendid, with minimal ambient and wind audio. Recordings of conversation are crystal clear.
Battery life is above average for a mirrorless camera - at 500 still images on a full charge. However, it pales in comparison with some mid-range DSLRs, in which the batteries can support up to 1,000 still images.
The Samsung NX1 may be slightly bulky for an APS-C mirrorless camera, but its fast operation and superb image quality make it a great feature-packed camera.
Price: $1,999 (body only)
Image sensor: 28.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS
Display: Tiltable 3-inch touchscreen Amoled with 1,036,000 dots; electronic viewfinder with 2,360,000 dots
Sensitivity: ISO 100 to 51,200
Shooting speed: Up to 15 frames per second
Connectivity: Bluetooth 3.0, Near Field Communication, Wi-Fi
Weight: 550g (body only, without battery and memory card)
Value for money: 4/5
Battery life: 4/5
This article was first published on Jan 07, 2015.
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