The Samsung NX500 is a relatively affordable CSC, costing £599 with a 16-50mm kit lens. In the past, the company's CSCs have struggled to attract our attention when up against rivals Sony, Panasonic and co. However, the NX500 inherits plenty of features from the Samsung NX1 – probably the most technically impressive APS-C compact system camera to date.
Stunning images and a great AF system make the Samsung NX500 a far more interesting proposition than its predecessor, the NX300. However, with no EVF, or method by which to add an external mic, the NX500 is likely to be instantly ruled out by some of the more cost-cautious enthusiasts for whom this camera might otherwise be perfect.
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Samsung has made a lot of progress with the NX500 in technical terms. But, as with other NX-series models, it’s hardly the most striking camera around.
It sports the very popular, retro-tinged two-tone style, but lacks the design personality we see in the FujiFilm X-T10 or Olympus OM-D E-M10. The Samsung NX500 comes across as ordinary, and this will do it no favours when it’s sat on the shelves next to more striking rivals.
As you can see in the photos, it’s silver up top, with most of the remaining part of the Samsung NX500's body covered in the usual textured rubberised plastic.
Don’t care too much about the look? Then you'll be pleased to learn that the Samsung NX500 feels great in the hand. We found it among the most comfortable and sure-feeling cameras of this size thanks to its ergonomic grip.
For keen photographers, one of the most important additions this year is a secondary control dial. The Samsung NX300 featured only one dial by the top plate; the NX500 earns another one on the back.
There’s room for improvement here, though. The two manual control dials are small and fiddly, and lack the firm feedback necessary to give you the confidence when using them blind. Thankfully, iFn lessens the impact somewhat. Many NX-series lenses have a control wheel and an iFn button, which lets you flick through basic parameters using a single lens wheel. We often found ourselves using this rather than the NX500's own controls.
While the NX500 has plenty of features that should impress camera enthusiasts, there are a few that will put them off entirely.
The other significant feature is the EVF, or lack thereof. As well as leaving you with only the rear screen to view the image preview, there’s no option to add an EVF either; Samsung doesn’t make such an accessory. For many, this will be reason enough to rule out the Samsung NX500 altogether.
Both he FujiFilm X-T10 and Olympus OM-D E-M10 are alternatives that include an EVF.
It seems Samsung is out to court the most casual of crowds with the Samsung NX500, relying on only a 3in 1.04m-Dot OLED touchscreen. It’s a mostly-good display, tilting both up and down to let you shoot under and over head height, as well as swivelling through 180 degrees for the selfie angle.
Unlike some OLED panels, colours are accurate, making it a pretty good way to judge your images. However, it struggles in bright sunlight. You’ll need to set the screen’s brightness to max on a sunny day, and even then it can be tricky to see clearly what’s on the screen.
It’s on those sunny days we really begin to miss the EVF.