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The Samsung NX300 arrived on the scene to me with little warning, accompanied by its sibling, the NX2000 (review coming soon!).
Samsung has not been overly noisy about its NX line of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras but, in this game, there’s no prize for false modesty and IMHO the NX range of cameras should be better known.
Of course, for the company, it’s going to be a hard road to hoe due to its orphan lens mount. Although unable to check this, it would appear that adapters are available to use Pentax lenses and (via Novoflex adaptors) optics for Panasonic/Olympus Micro Four Thirds, Sony E-mount, Leica M, Fujifilm X and Canon EF-M plus some other less well known lenses, so you are not bound irrevocably to the Samsung lineup.
So if you’re prepared to swing along with Samsung lenses, the range is wide: f2.4/16mm, f2.8/20mm, f2.0/30mm, f2.8/60mm macro OIS, f1.4/85mm, f3.5/18-200mm OIS, f4/50-200mm OIS, f3.5/18-55mm OIS, f3.5/20-50mm and quite a few more. There are even three pinhole lenses made by another company! And a Lensbaby!
Note: there are only four OIS lenses in the range; the third party lenses do not offer it. Some people feel that maybe Samsung should have designed their NX cameras with internal stabilisation.
The review camera landed with the f3.5/18-55mm OIS kit lens and did look very splendid in its metallic look top and bottom plates with brown leather-look trim. A little retro in style!
The camera is very hand friendly, thanks to a prominent speed grip and overall modest dimensions.
The 7.6cm AMOLED screen is touch sensitive and variably-angled vertically by 90 degrees and 45 degrees downwards.
After a week of walking around with the NX300 I got to like the camera. Big time! To my mind many camera companies should look hard and strong at its layout, ergonomics and configuration. It proved to be one of the best handling cameras I have ever toted.
The top deck is relatively clean, with nothing but the flash shoe, WiFi button, on/off lever plus concentric shutter button, a selector jog dial and a mode dial with positions for auto, PASM, lens priority (to adjust depth of field), smart mode (presets for shots like beauty face, macro, silhouette etc).
Rear: the video record button is at the top; beneath it is the EV adjust, menu and Function buttons replay and trash buttons pus the familiar four way jog button with positions for self timer/continuous shooting, ISO setting, display and AF options.
Overall, the control layout is exemplary. The viewfinder menu is sufficient without overkill and just sufficient options to make the camera sing and dance.
The NX300’s APS-C sized CMOS sensor captures 20.3 million effective pixels and manages to store a maximum image size of 5472×3648 pixels or as a 46x31cm print.
Video? Full HD at 1920×1080 pixels.
If you try to shoot a still image while recording video, the camera stops recording. I think that’s a bit of a sad situation; many times in a video shoot you may want to shoot a still. But you cain’t!
The big feature, in common with many recent cameras, is WiFi connectivity. The Direct Link hot key feature enables images to be shared at the touch of a button between compatible camera, smartphone or tablet. There is a Smart Camera App1, available on Android and iOS, which connects the user’s compatible smartphone to the camera via the connection, allowing you to edit, share and back-up images.
And a freebie: Adobe Lightroom 4 is bundled with the camera. Worth a few bucks in any language.
Plus a special note and I quote: ‘Samsung has launched a 3D-capable version of its f1.8/45mm NX lens. The 3D version can be used as a conventional lens but also has two LCD screens that scissor down into the optical path when you engage 3D mode. These two screens take turns to black-out their respective sides of the lens, meaning a slightly different image is projected onto the camera’s sensor. The NX300 can capture and combine these alternating frames to create either 3D movies or stills … the feature cannot be extended to earlier NX models.’
The 3D version of the lens will cost nearly double the price of the conventional version.
You may notice the ISO test shots are dark. NO reason. Got me puzzled too.
Quality: excellent image quality, up there with the best.
Why you’d buy the Samsung NX300: terrific camera layout; easy to use; vari-angle screen.
Why you wouldn’t: not sure about the lens range.
This is quite a camera and a sign that Samsung mens serious business in electronics, from smart phones to digicams. Most impressed.
The NX300 is available in brown or white.
Image Sensor: 20.3 million effective pixels.
Metering: Multi segment, centre-weighted, spot.
Lens Mount: Samsung NX.
Exposure Modes: Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Effective Sensor Size: 23.5×15.7mm CMOS.
35 SLR Lens Factor: 1.5x.
Shutter Speed (stills): 30 to 1/6000 second and Bulb.
Continuous Shooting: 8.6fps in RAW and JPEG; 10/15/30 fps at 2736X1824 size.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC/UHS-1/and micro version cards.
Image Sizes (pixels): Stills: 5472×3648 to 1024×1024.
Movies: 1920×1080, 1280×720, 640×480, 320×240.
Viewfinder: 7.6cm AMOLED screen (768,000 pixels).
File Formats: JPEG, RAW (SRW), JPEG+RAW, MPO (3D), MPEG4.
Colour Space: sRGB, Adobe RGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 25,600.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini, WiFi.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC input.
Dimensions: 122×63.7×40.7 WHDmm.
Weight: 284 g (ex battery and card).
Price: get a price on the Samsung NX300 & 20-50mm Lens at Amazon.