Samsung NX300 review

Price as reviewed

£599.00

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Scores

AWB Colour
8/10
Metering
8/10
Dynamic Range
8/10
Autofocus
8/10
Build/Handling
8/10
Noise/resolution
28/30
Features
9/10
LCD viewfinder
8/10
Rated
Very good
Tested as
Entry-level CSC
Overall Score
85%

User Score

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As well as being compact and stylish, the Samsung NX300 has a new 20.3-million-pixel sensor and AF system, comprehensive built-in Wi-Fi and tiltable touchscreen. Read the Samsung NX300 review...

Samsung NX300 front
Samsung NX300 front Samsung NX300 back Samsung NX300 top

Samsung NX300 at a glance:

  • 20.3-million-pixel, APS-C CMOS sensor
  • DRIMe IV image processing engine
  • Hybrid AF system
  • Dual-band Wi-Fi
  • 3in rear tiltable LCD touchscreen
  • Street price £599, supplied with full version of Adobe Lightroom and 20-50mm lens
  • See more shots taken with the Samsung NX300

Samsung NX300 - Introduction

Samsung has been an active presence in the photography market over the past few years. In fact, the company's established position in electronics, particularly the smartphone sector, has been used to good effect in its NX series of compact system cameras. The company has led the way when it comes to features such as a built-in Wi-Fi, and small cameras with good connectivity are popular at the moment. The new Samsung NX300 is the fourth instalment in a viewfinder-less CSC line, replacing the NX210.

At first glance, it appears that only subtle changes have been made to the NX300 since the earlier NX210. But dig a little deeper and many more significant improvements come to light, such as a new sensor, AF system, processor and rear screen.

Samsung has also been busy working on its lens range, and the NX lens mount now comprises 12 lenses plus a number of third-party optics. During my test of the NX300, I used the 18-55mm III f/3.5-5.6 kit lens, plus the 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3, 16mm f/2.4 pancake, 60mm f/2.8 macro and 85mm f/1.4 lenses. A new 45mm f/1.8 2D/3D model was also announced alongside the launch of the camera. The NX300 therefore looks to have a strong feature set that is backed up by some good lenses.

Samsung NX300 - Features

Like its predecessor, the NX300 uses a 20.3-million-pixel, APS-C-format Samsung sensor, but it is not the same unit as that found in the NX210. With a new DRIMe IV image-processing engine also fitted, the Samsung NX300 has a 1-stop increase in sensitivity range over the NX210 to ISO 100-25,600. From Samsung's specification, we can expect to see an improvement in the low-light performance of the new model.

A maximum output of 5472x3648 pixels equates to 18x12in prints at 300ppi, although at 240ppi prints closer to A2 are possible. Samsung supplies the camera with a full version of Adobe Lightroom 4.4, which is an excellent inclusion and adds considerable value to the kit for those who do not already own this software.

Built into the sensor are 105 phase-detection pixels, to create a hybrid AF system similar to that in cameras such as the Canon EOS 650D and Fujifilm X100S. This means the NX300 uses both phase and contrast-detection AF, automatically switching between the systems according to the camera settings and the scene being captured. More on this later.

Built-in Wi-Fi was introduced in the NX210, which was effectively the same camera as the NX200 but with the Wi-Fi addition. The NX300 also offers Wi-Fi, but with some added functions and improved operation. On the new model, Wi-Fi has its own place on the shooting-mode dial so it can access apps such as Remote Viewfinder and Mobile Link. We went into detail about these remote-control and image-sharing apps in the review of the Samsung NX210 (AP 21 July 2012). For more details on the improvements and what is possible with Wi-Fi in the NX300, see Built-in Wi-fi. Like the NX210, the NX300 can geotag GPS data onto image files, but through the optional GPS10 GPS module, which currently is hard to come by.

The several auto shooting modes include 14 smart effects. Contained in the smart menu are modes such as panorama, rich tones and waterfall. A lens-priority mode makes use of a lens with the i-Fn button, through which a beginner-friendly slider for depth of field can be accessed to make quick changes to the aperture. 

With a continuous high frame rate of 8.6fps and continuous low frame rate of up to 5fps, the NX300 should be able to capture a sequence of images of fast-moving subjects. There is a JPEG-burst-only mode, too, for shooting at 10fps, 15fps and 30fps but, with raw format selected, a burst lasts for less than 1sec. It is only in reduced JPEG-quality-only capture that a burst long enough to truly capture a subject is possible, up to around 20 frames. This performance is, however, an improvement over the NX210.

Images: There is a good choice of lenses that cover a variety of subjects. The goat image has been taken with the 85mm f/1.4 lens, which enables a shallow depth of field while providing crisp results. The deer image was taken with the 18-200mm lens at its telephoto setting. Detail is not as crisp, but the reach of the lens means one can stand far off from the subject