The Samsung Galaxy S 4 is the ultimate kitchen-sink Android phone for...
Samsung NX1000 Review
The mirrorless Samsung NX1000 is a little slower than other cameras in its class, but it delivers excellent image quality and aces Wi-Fi implementation.
(4 out of 5)
- Sharp, compact kit lens
- Good high ISO performance
- Excellent Wi-Fi implementation
- Sharp rear LCD.
- Slower performance
- No EVF option
- Lacks built-in flash.
The NX1000 ($699.99 list with 20-50mm lens) brings Samsung’s excellent Wi-Fi implementation to an interchangeable lens camera, making it possible to push top-quality photos to your phone, home network, or favorite social networking outlet. The 20-megapixel camera is a little slow to start and suffers from some shutter lag, but is still worth a close look for its Wi-Fi features and overall image quality. It doesn’t manage to oust our Editors’ Choice mirrorless camera, the Sony Alpha NEX-F3 , which lacks Wi-Fi, but does offer a tilting screen, built-in flash, and the ability to add an electronic viewfinder.
Design and Features
The NX100 is one of the smaller mirrorless cameras out there, especially when you consider that its APS-C image sensor, the same type found in consumer D-SLRs, is physically larger than those found in Micro Four Thirds cameras. The included 20-50mm zoom lens is actually about the same as the standard 14-42mm kit zoom included with Olympus PEN Micro Four Thirds cameras. The NX1000′s 7.7-ounce body measures 2.5 by 4.6 by 1.4 inches, only slightly larger than the 7.7-ounce Olympus PEN E-PM1 . There’s no built-in flash, but there is a small external one included—you’ll just have to slide it into the camera’s hot shoe.
The rear display, which you’ll use for all image framing and review, just as you do on a point-and-shoot camera, is 3 inches in size and packs a 921k-dot resolution. It’s one of the best in its class, but not the best. Both the Samsung NX200 and Olympus PEN E-P3 pack OLED displays that are slightly crisper, brighter, and refresh more quickly than LCDs.
The NX1000′s physical control layout is well designed. Unlike the Sony Alpha NEX-5N , the camera has a physical mode dial that switches between Smart Auto, Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, and Scene shooting modes. On the rear of the camera you’ll find controls for the Self Timer, Drive Mode, Exposure Compensation, and Autofocus mode. There’s also a function button that launches an overlay display, from which you’ll be able to adjust most shooting settings. You’ll have to access the Menu to dive deeper into the camera’s settings, but unless there is a rather obscure setting you’d like to adjust, you won’t have to go there during shooting.
One of the unique controls found on the NX series of cameras is the iFn button that is found on the kit lens as well as many other lenses available for the system. It launches a menu from which you can adjust certain settings, including ISO, White Balance, Shutter Speed, Aperture, and EV Compensation. When the iFn function is active, all of these settings are adjusted using the focus ring on the lens.
The feature that really sets the NX1000 apart from its mirrorless competition is its built-in Wi-Fi. Moving the Mode Dial over to this position brings up a menu of options that make it possible to share photos without cables. You can use MobileLink to directly beam photos to your iOS or Android device, or Remote Viewfinder to use the same device to take control of the camera. Both functions require that you download an app, but it’s free for either platform. There’s also a Social Sharing menu from which you can push photos and videos to Facebook, Picasa, YouTube, and Photobucket. You also have screens from which you can transfer your images and movies to the Microsoft SkyDrive service, or your Windows PC, as well as a TV Link option that lets you view photos on a Samsung Wi-Fi TV. The great thing about the Wi-Fi on this camera is that it’s fairly easy to configure and use—it transcends the gimmick niche and becomes an actual useable function of the camera.
Performance and Conclusions
The major issue with the NX1000 is one of speed—it’s just not a fast performer. The camera takes 2.2 seconds to power on and grab a shot, and records a long 0.5-second shutter lag. It does do well in burst shooting at 7 frames per second, but can only keep that pace for 9 photos. If you’re shooting JPG, the recovery time for that burst using a fast 95MBps SanDisk memory card is 10.8 seconds, and that figure stretches to 17.8 seconds if shooting in Raw mode. The Sony NEX-5N is faster—it can start and shoot in 1.5 seconds and records a mere 0.1-second shutter lag. It is a bit slower in terms of shot-to-shot only notching 3 frames per second—although it can fire at that pace for as long as you’d like it to.
I used Imatest to measure the sharpness of the 20-50mm f/3.5-5.6 NX lens that is bundled with the camera. The lens is one of the sharpest that we’ve tested—at the widest aperture settings it notches 2,133 lines per picture height at 20mm, 2,173 lines at 35mm, and 2,020 lines at 50mm. All of these scores are better than the 1,800 lines required for a sharp image, and better than Samsung’s longer-zooming 18-55mm kit lens, which is bundled with the NX200. That lens only managed 1,958 lines at 18mm, 2,120 lines at 35mm, and 1,701 lines at 55mm.
Imatest also measures noise, which can make a photo appear to be grainy and hurt detail as a camera’s ISO is increased. The NX1000 keeps noise under 1.5 percent through ISO 6400, but does lose a good bit of image detail at that setting. If you’re shooting JPG, keep the ISO set at 1600 or below and you’ll end up with very nice images, and if you shoot Raw you can push it one stop further to ISO 3200. The Sony NEX-F3, which has an equal Imatest score in this category, does a bit better with detail at very high settings. At ISO 3200, the JPGs are quite good, looking not that much different from the ISO 1600 files from the NX1000. If you shoot Raw, you can push the NEX-F3 to ISO 6400 and get very useable files.
Video is recorded in MP4 format at 1080p30 or 720p30 HD quality. The footage is excellent; details are crisp, colors are sharp, and the kit lens is able to refocus on the fly without adding unwanted audio to the soundtrack. There are micro HDMI and micro USB ports for wired connectivity, and standard SD, SDHC, and SDXC memory cards are supported.
If you’re in the market for a compact interchangeable lens camera and like the idea of Wi-Fi, the Samsung NX1000 is a serious contender. The kit lens is compact and sharp, and you can snap JPGs at up to ISO 1600 without sacrificing too much in the way of image quality. If Wi-Fi isn’t a concern, you may want to consider a camera to which you can add an eye-level EVF like our Editors’ Choice Sony Alpha NEX-F3 or Olympus’s compact PEN E-PM1. The former has a large APS-C sensor, just like the NX1000, and the latter will give you access to the Micro Four Thirds lens library, which boasts more lenses than either the Samsung or Sony.
More Digital Camera Reviews:
By Jim Fisher, PCMag