Samsung NX500 – Image Quality
One of the key draws of the Samsung NX500 is the sensor, which is the same 28-megapixel APS-C type found in the Samsung NX1.
This is an excellent sensor, offering the highest resolution you’ll find among APS-C cameras. It’s capable of capturing stunning images; you’d have to spend significantly more money to get something better.
At ISO 100 – the Samsung NX500’s base sensitivity – you get superb detail, with it picking out more in our labs test than any other camera in this class. It rendered 3,900 LP/PH (line pairs per picture height), against the Sony Alpha a5100’s 3100. This is a measure of how fine the details the camera can “see” are.
Dynamic range is great too, performing at the upper end of what you can get from APS-C cameras.
Image quality stays strong until fairly high in the ISO sensitivity range, too. The Samsung NX500 offers a standard ISO range of 100-25600, with an extended 51200 “emergency” mode.
We’d be happy to use it at up to ISO 1600 day to day. Noise starts to make an appearance at ISO 800, but it isn’t until ISO 3200 and 6400 that it becomes serious, with effects on shadow detail. That said, if images don’t need to be immaculate then those higher settings are perfectly usable. Even at ISO 12800, image quality is reasonable.
The Samsung NX500 isn’t out to woo your eyes with its dazzling JPEGs, though. It takes a fairly conservative approach to both colour and metering, tending to slightly underexpose in cases of bright, cloudy skies that might be prone to clipping. Colours don’t quite pop to the extent of, say, the Olympus rival – although tones were quite natural.
Here are some samples taken with the NX500:
There are no great surprises here: the Samsung NX500 offers excellent image quality, just like the NX1. Its post-edit-ready approach to metering and the ability to capture 14-bit RAW files only serves to demonstrate how disappointing some of its omissions are – we’re mainly referring here to the lack of EVF.
Samsung NX500 – Video
In pure quality terms, the NX500’s video footage is excellent. The camera can shoot both broadcast 4K resolution at 24fps and UHD at 30 frames per seconds. Naturally, will also shoot 1080p at up to 60 frames per second, and has both slow- and fast-motion modes too.
4K resolution quality is excellent, clearly outdoing that offered by the 1080p mode in our tests.
However, all of this video clout will be ruined for the more pro-leaning video shooter because the Samsung NX500 doesn’t have an external microphone input. This means you’ll have to use the built-in stereo mics, and for some that just won’t suffice.
You also don’t get the same field of view when shooting 4K video as you do in 1080p. The Samsung NX500 clips into the sensor for a 1.68x-crop view. In instances where a more “zoomed in” view is beneficial, this will be useful. But it won’t help if you’re shooting grand landscape panoramas. You can preview the cropped zoom view easily enough, though.
Should I buy the Samsung NX500?
The Samsung NX500 is a camera of extensive capabilities and annoying omissions. Its sensor and processor are capable of great things, and its image quality is up there with the best APS-C CSCs on the market.
However, with the NX500 missing certain features that are present in similarly priced rivals, Samsung’s camera just isn’t going to appeal to those photographers wanting the NX1 sensor on a tighter budget.
The lack of an EVF and external microphone input will be deal-breakers for those who would otherwise care about the extra base ISO detail and 4K video capture that the NX500 boasts. But if you can live with those omissions – alongside its daylight-phobic display and slightly fiddly main controls – it’s a terrific camera.
SEE ALSO: Panasonic Lumix GF7
Great image quality and AF performance win out, but you need to put up with some pretty important omissions.
Score in detail
Image Quality 9
Build Quality 7