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Samsung NX500 Review - Features, Performance and AF Review


Samsung NX500 – Features

The Samsung NX500 doesn’t include every core feature seen in some of its competitors, but you do get a pretty strong array of extras.

Wireless connectivity is class-leading. There’s Wi-Fi plus NFC, enabling you to transfer images to mobile devices, as well as control the shutter using an app.

Samsung NX500Samsung camera with pop-up flash extended, showcasing design.

It is Bluetooth that sets the NX500 apart, however. Setting it up can be simpler than using the camera-standard Wi-Fi, and while we couldn’t get it to work with an ageing iPhone 4s, it seems to function fine with Android phones.

The Samsung NX500 charges via micro-USB, ruling out the need for a separate charger base. It means you’ll be able to recharge the camera on-the-go using an external battery.

There’s plenty on offer behind the scenes too. As well as HDR modes for normal shooting and time-lapse videos, plus typical Samsung gimmicks such as the wink-gesture shutter release, there’s great customisation of Auto elements such as minimum shutter speed. You can leave ISO to set itself when otherwise shooting in manual.

Even when you largely surrender control of the NX500, you’re still able to guide how the camera works.

Samsung NX500 – Performance and AF

Much like the Samsung NX1, the Samsung NX500 is an excellent performer in terms of pure burst-shooting performance. You get 9fps with autofocus, using the on-sensor phase-detection points. That’s fast: the Sony A5100 manages 6fps, and even that is considered speedy.

The weak point is the buffer. The Samsung NX500 will shoot at this speed for only 40 JPEG frames, or a mere five when shooting RAW files.

Samsung NX500 9Camera with lens attached and battery compartment open.

Samsung has also been careful to maintain some distance between the NX500 and NX1 in performance terms. The NX1 can shoot at a jaw-dropping 15fps thanks to its DRIMe V processor, while the NX500 is powered by a cut-down version of the DRIMe V. Still, it can hardly be described as being slow – it’s anything but.

One of the key features that the Samsung NX500 snags wholesale from its most expensive brother is the AF system. It has a hybrid phase-detection/contrast-detect system, which is on a par – if not better than – the very best in this class.

You get 205 phase-detection points and 209 contrast-detection points, covering 90 per cent of the frame. Thanks to the touchscreen, selecting a focus point is simple too. If you prefer a more traditional feel, however, you can use the D-pad to select focus. One of the smarter UI decisions Samsung makes here is to ensure any touchscreen controls sit alongside the physical options, rather than replacing them.

Samsung NX500 5Camera's LCD screen displaying aperture settings and autofocus feature.

Focusing performance is excellent. It’s fast and accurate. Only the Sony Alpha A5100 and Nikon 1-series cameras can compete here.

As with other Samsung CSCs, though, manual focusing aids aren’t yet perfect. When you use magnification to help check for focus, the Samsung NX500 can zoom in only on the centre of the frame, not wherever the focus point is. Focus peaking – where the in-focus areas of an image are highlighted – is on hand too, though. Many people find it faster than using the magnified view anyway.

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