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Samsung NX1 review

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Samsung NX1
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Summary

Our Score:

9

Pros

  • Super-fast burst shooting
  • Excellent image quality for APS-C
  • Wealth of features

Cons

  • Some of its buttons are too small
  • Minor processing issues

Key Features

  • 28MP APS-C BSI sensor; 205-point phase detection; 15fps continuous shooting; weather sealed
  • Manufacturer: Samsung
  • Review Price: £1,299.00

What is the Samsung NX1?

The Samsung NX1 is the sort of camera we’ve always hoped Samsung would make. The company is a king of forward-looking tech in other areas, but Samsung often seems to lag a little behind with its enthusiast cameras, where veterans Nikon, Canon and Sony often have the edge.

Samsung has used its experience with everything high-tech to great effect in the NX1 compact system camera, though. It has more firsts in the bag than an Oxford University computer club.

Some are neat fluffy extras, but one is at the heart of image quality. This is the first APS-C camera to use a BSI sensor, the kind of performance-increasing design that lets the tiny sensors in mobile phones produce somewhat-good images.

Offering some of the best image quality ever seen from an APS-C camera, alongside performance that absolutely shames much of the competition, the Samsung NX1 sets a new standard for CSCs and DSLRs alike. At £1299 it’s more expensive than full-frame models such as the Sony Alpha A7, but that doesn’t detract from one fact: this is a fantastic camera. Samsung NX1 7

SEE ALSO: Best Cameras Round-up

Samsung NX1 – Design and Handling

The Samsung NX1 is a compact system camera, but one that looks rather DSLR-ish. It’s big and chunky, with a shape designed more for ease of handling than compactness.

This isn’t so much a negative point as something you need to consider before buying. The NX1 is a similar size to the Nikon D7100, an all-out DSLR.

Its exact measurements are 138.5 x 102.3 x 65.8mm, and it weighs 550g without a lens. It is not all that light, and you need to consider the weight of the lens on top. Samsung’s premium S-class lenses are particularly heavy, and would be an obvious fit for a high-end camera like this. The 16-50mm S ED f/2-2.8 lens weighs a whopping 622g, making the full package well over a kilo.

Samsung NX1 9

It may be an imposing prospect, but we otherwise like the Samsung NX1 design. It offers a sure grip, and a very clean approach to layout.

It’s clean, with definite lines and no extraneous hardware buttons to confuse. As with most cameras, the action centres around a mode dial with the standard P/A/S/M modes, making it easy to use for less experienced photographers.

The one niggle we have is that some of the function buttons on the back are just far too small, making some operations feel more fiddly than is really necessary. It’s not as if the Samsung NX1 lacks room for some slightly larger buttons.

Manual control is good, though, with rotary dials for your thumb and forefinger sitting to each side of the shutter button. Another sign this is a real high-end camera is the secondary, monochrome display on the top plate, a great way to quickly check your settings and battery level.

Samsung NX1 – EVF and Screen

As the Samsung NX1 is a CSC rather than a DSLR, it uses an EVF rather than an optical viewfinder. However, this is just about the first time we’ve reviewed a camera that offers an EVF that can stack up to, and even exceed, an OVF.

That digital tech is finally up to speed. The Samsung NX1 has a 2.36-million-dot electronic viewfinder, offering the sort of display resolution that doesn’t feel compromised. Even though we live in a world of phones with more pixels than last year’s 65-inch TVs, camera EVFs are often desperately pixel-poor.

Samsung NX1 11

The NX1’s, though, is lovely. It’s quick as well as sharp, too. With 5ms display lag, there’s no discernable delay between what’s on-screen and what you’d see with your eyes.

Of course, a high-quality display alone isn’t enough to trump a more traditional optical viewfinder. You also get focus peaking and 5x magnification, making it simply fantastic for manual-focus shooters.

If you’re new to digital focus aids, the focus peaking option highlights in-focus areas of the preview image, giving you a much more reliable judge of focusing than just using your eyes and a digital display. This is the sort of EVF we’ve been waiting for, and while it’s not quite as intriguing as the FujiFilm X100T’s hybrid viewfinder, it is about as good. Its actual resolution is XGA: which you can think of as a 4:3 equivalent to 720p.

The screen on the back of the Samsung NX1 is less of a standard-setter, but it’s still very solid. It’s a 3-inch display of 1037k dots, again using Samsung's favoured OLED display tech.

Unlike so many other high-end cameras, even brand-new ones, the NX1’s display embraces new tech including the bits that are usually associated with a more casual style of photography. It offers touch control and a tilt display. Some high-end cameras turn their noses up at these features because they don’t fit with the ‘viewfinder and manual controls’ style of serious photographers. The truth is they’re often useful.

The tilt display is great when you want to shoot above or below head height, while the fairly good touch implementation can be great when you do just want to take your photography more casually. You can touch-to-focus and touch-to-shoot, and also use multi-touch to apply focus and exposure metering points separately. While Samsung has fallen a bit behind the competition in terms of things like pure photo quality at times, it’s ahead in these ‘smart’ areas.

Pro shooting digital since '92

December 4, 2014, 6:49 pm

Great review! Just one question about the Samsung NX1. Will a future firmware update enable smooth, cinematic focus changes while shooting video?

I recently purchased a Samsung NX1 and the 16-50mm f/2-2.8 lens to test. I believe the NX1 is a better camera than anything available from Canon. I am testing it with an eye to buying 3 bodies and several lenses. There is currently only one small problem preventing me from moving forward. I shoot TV commercials and stills for ad agencies. While shooting video with the NX1 camera in auto focus mode I touch the screen on the face of the person speaking. When that person is done and another person starts to speak I touch their face. Everything works great except that the focus changes so quickly that it is jarring to watch. Unusable unfortunately.

My suggestion is to have Samsung's digital imaging software engineers test the Canon 70d along side the NX1. I know the Samsung NX1 has the processing power to do anything the Canon 70D can do. The 70D easily creates usable video by slowly (relative to the NX1) and smoothly changing the focus position without any hunting as it achieves final focus. The effect is similar in experience to watching a feature film.

As far as the image quality, resolution, size, weight, wireless connectivity, feature set and handling of the NX1, it seems just about perfect to me. My numerous tests show the Samsung NX1 using h.265 codec captures noticeably better quality video than the 70D All-I codec with less than 1/9 the file size! I can convert the Samsung h.265 1080p to ProRes 422 almost as quickly as the conversion from Canon's All-I to ProRes 422. The still photos are sharper and in my opinion superior to the Canon 1D, 5D Mk II, and 70D cameras. At least up to iso 800 which is all I've tested so far. When I say sharper I mean NX1 photos seem twice as sharp as the 70D. In pursuit of sharpness I have very carefully calibrated back focus for four L series lenses on my 70D.

After using follow-focus rigs for years I will never go back to that. Touch screen combined with auto following facial recognition for video focus allows a very high percentage of good takes. Lens change - no problem!

I love the Samsung NX1camera. I really, really want it to work for my use. It breaks my heart to think of returning it to B&H Photo. Unfortunately I can't use it for delivering pro video with the way I want to do focus. Please tell me that some future firmware update will enable smooth, cinematic focus changes while shooting video!

btw- Continuous autofocus is pretty darn good. I only falls apart if there is significant distance between the focus points selected by touch during video shooting.

Guest

December 6, 2014, 9:26 am

Does it have ibis like the Sony A7ii?

Everlast

December 13, 2014, 4:18 pm

No, it doesn't. Not a bad camera overall, but hugely overpriced for an APSC sensor.

dpanch_89

December 14, 2014, 7:41 pm

That's probably for the NX1 version 2.

dpanch_89

December 14, 2014, 7:42 pm

Is it not roughly the same price as the Canon 7D Mk II? If not CHEAPER?

dpanch_89

December 14, 2014, 7:45 pm

Thanks for this. Very useful information! I'd love to get my hands on and try this, but it's roughly double the price of the d7100 I recently upgraded to. My next purchase will be Full frame tbh, as this doesn't offer that much better "portability", but it does have a LOT of killer features.

What is your experience of the battery life? In particular, whilst taking video? I would think that this would consume a LOT of battery, considering all of the touchscreen and connectivity options and EVF as well!

Everlast

December 14, 2014, 10:04 pm

NX1 is $1,500 on Amazon US (body only)

7D mkII $1,800
but Sony A77 II is under $900 ! (A mount camera)

Nikon D7100 is under $900 !
The NX1 records 4k video internally, but apart from that all of the other cameras have many more and better lens options, Nik and Sony are cheaper.
We can even mention the $600 Sony A6000 E-mount mirror-less that appears to have caught up quite a bit in AF department SLR/SLT.

camera fan

February 8, 2015, 7:33 pm

> the NX1 is a better camera than anything available from Canon.
>When I say sharper I mean NX1 photos seem twice as sharp as the 70D.
>superior to the Canon 1D, 5D Mk II, and 70D cameras
This is worng completely.
You do not show evidence.
I used it,
but there is no such fact.
There was not the fact that that is more than 70D.

To TrustedReviews,
"Pro shooting digital since '92" is probably Samsung's maker person.
"Propaganda that was dressed up as a user" & "Third-party products criticism groundless"
Will you check "Pro shooting digital since '92" 's 6 comments!
All of 6 comments are "Third-party products criticism groundless" & "Samsung NX1 PR"

SomeAudioGuy

February 10, 2015, 8:56 pm

​I shot some slow motion samples at 120fps with the NX1, which you can see here - ​http://youtu.be/e_aoJCRC5as

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