Samsung’s NX1000 entry-level compact system camera costs less than its counterparts, but still packs a 20.3-million-pixel sensor and Wi-Fi compatibility. Read the Samsung NX1000 review...
Samsung NX1000 at a glance:
- 20.3-million-pixel, APS-C-sized CMOS sensor
- Wi-Fi compatible
- 3in, 921,000-dot LCD screen
- 8fps continuous shooting mode
- 1080p full HD video recording with stereo sound
- Street price around £490 with 20-50mm i-Function kit lens
Samsung NX1000 review – Introduction:
With the introduction of the NX1000, Samsung’s NX series now includes three models. The new camera sits below the NX210 and NX20 as the entry-level model, with a build, handling and price point designed to entice people into buying an interchangeable-lens camera for the first time. Make no mistake, though: the Samsung NX1000 is a capable camera indeed, and could even tempt experienced photographers. It features the same core as the more ‘advanced’ NX models, including the 20.3-million-pixel, APS-C-sized CMOS sensor. There is, in fact, very little to choose between the Samsung NX1000 and the ‘higher-up’ NX210, which is the other compact-style camera in the range, yet the camera on test here costs roughly £200 less.
I have mainly tested the Samsung NX1000 with the 20-50mm i-Fn lens, which is available in a kit for around £490, although I have also used the Samsung 18-200mm OIS lens, which somewhat dwarfs the camera but offers an impressive 11x optical zoom. Throughout this test, I frequently refer to the NX210 because the two cameras are very similar. For reference, virtually all the performance information applies to both cameras.
All current NX cameras use Samsung’s own 20.3-million-pixel, APS-C-sized CMOS sensor, which means that the NX1000 is capable of capturing a great level of detail. This is good news for anyone trying to choose between the NX cameras because the same image quality is available throughout the range.
Of course, the key feature of note is Wi-Fi compatibility, because Samsung is the first manufacturer to include this in its interchangeable-lens cameras. The Wi-Fi menu contains options for email, social sharing, auto back-up, TV link, MobileLink and Remote Viewfinder. The latter two options work via Samsung’s smartphone apps, available for both Android and iPhone systems. MobileLink is used to transfer photos on the camera to a smartphone, and Remote Viewfinder is designed as a remote release with control over shutter, image size and drive mode. In use, Wi-Fi can be a little glitchy and slow to connect, but when fully operational it has great tools for shooting and instantly sharing. Also, once an image is on a phone, photo-editing tools can be employed for image adjustments.
Most of Samsung’s NX lenses now offer i-Fn control, and considering the NX1000 has a limited number of controls on its body, the extra access point for exposure controls via the lens is welcome. These controls can be adjusted using the front lens ring and navigated using the control wheel. The i-Fn menu can hold up to five control options, including shutter speed, white balance, exposure compensation and ISO.
There are many other features included, and the camera is packed with useful shooting modes. Noteworthy examples include an 8fps burst rate and bracketing for exposure, white balance and colour.
Image: In the close-up image, exposure has been pushed 2EV to reveal plenty of detail in the shadow areas
Build and handling
It is in the build and handling that the most obvious differences between the NX1000 and NX210 can be found, although in size and weight these are negligible. Body-only, the NX1000 is up there with the smallest and lightest interchangeable-lens cameras around, at 37mm deep and weighing 217g. Where the two cameras differ is that the NX210 features a metal build, while the NX1000’s shell is made from plastic, which accounts for the difference in price.
Aesthetically similar, the difference is felt in the hand and in how well each camera body will resist years of toil and use. That is not to say the NX1000 build is poor, as, on the contrary, it feels solid in the hand and has neat touches like the textured leather effect on the front and rear panels.
Another factor that classes the NX1000 as an entry-level model is the limited controls on the body, which make it suitable for those new to photography. The camera seems geared toward instant sharing, because on the top plate is the smart link button for direct access to MobileLink, while the NX210, in contrast, has a dial to control zoom in playback and make exposure adjustments. Likewise, there is no exposure-compensation button, which is instead found on the control wheel in place of the ISO control. Smart auto shooting mode provides hassle-free shooting, and magic frame mode adds a frame directly onto the digital file for instant effect.
In keeping the body as small as possible, the NX1000 does not feature a built-in flash. Instead, the camera comes supplied with a separate flash unit, which is attached via the hotshoe port. In its extended position the flash has good clearance from the body, which I think is a better option than a compact, built-in unit. The hotshoe port does not feature an accessory port to fix an electronic viewfinder.
There is one issue that I hope will be addressed in future models. When using raw or JPEG fine capture, especially in the continuous high shooting mode, images are processed very slowly, and on countless occasions I had to wait for the camera to be ready before I could shoot again. All in all, though, the camera handles really well.
White balance and colour
With the camera set to its standard colour mode, I find the colours lack vibrancy. JPEGs appear more like unedited raw files than the highly saturated and print-ready images one would expect. As such, I did not rely on it that often. Other colour modes can be used with the Picture Wizard activated, including vivid, which injects some welcome punch into images, and several other presets.
Once the colour mode has been set to taste, colour rendition is very good. Auto white balance is predictable and its tone often a little cool, which is not unusual. Provided one is vigilant for scenes that may trick the colour balance, such as where one colour is dominant, auto white balance can be relied upon.
The NX1000 features the same metering system as that used in the NX210 and NX20, with evaluative metering made up of 221 segments. I found this mode both reliable and, most importantly, predictable in the way it meters for a scene. It is helpful for a photographer to be able to leave certain camera settings, such as metering, as they are. Handily, there is the choice to link – or not – auto exposure to the AF point.
Noise, resolution and sensitivity
These images show 72ppi (100% on a computer screen) sections of images of a resolution chart, captured using the Samsung 20-50mm i-Fn kit lens. We show the section of the resolution chart where the camera starts to fail to reproduce the lines separately. The higher the number visible in these images, the better the camera’s detail resolution at the specified sensitivity setting.
Without doubt, the camera excels in its ability to resolve detail, even using the budget 20-50mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens. Viewing images at 100% on-screen not only shows just how crisp detail can be, but also just how big the 20.3-million-pixel images are, indicated as 18.2×12.2in with the image size set to 300ppi.
Our resolution chart shows centre sharpness up to the 30 marker at ISO 100, which means the NX1000 is right up there with the best in its class, and at its price point is exceeded only by the Nikon D3200, which has a 24.2-million-pixel resolution.
With such a high pixel count on its APS-C-sized sensor, and therefore moderate pixel pitch, it is interesting to see how the NX1000 is able to deal with noise when pushed to its limits in low-contrast light. Having recorded the same scene across the entire ISO 100-12,800 range, images have been analysed for noise across the tonal range. Images up to ISO 400 are largely free of noise, even in shadow areas, and detail is acceptable all the way up to ISO 1600, at which point luminance noise is present but uniform. Above this setting, luminance and chroma noise are not uniform but patchy, resulting in mushy detail and compromising the dynamic range.
Image: Even in the shadow areas here, noise is well controlled up to ISO 1600
Using the camera to shoot a sports scene, I found fast and erratic movement definitely beyond its capabilities. Without lock-on tracking for continuous shooting, don’t expect the camera to cope with rapid movement. However, at this level the camera is not really designed for this use, and its intended audience should find the contrast-detection AF system snappy for everyday scenes.
The camera features single, continuous and manual-focus modes, the last of which provides focus magnification, which is extremely helpful in bright weather given that the LCD screen must be wholly relied on for viewing and composing images.
Handily, in spot AF mode, the size of the spot area can easily be adjusted and reduced, for a more precise area, down to approximately 4% of the frame.
Image: Using raw capture is essential to get the most out of the NX1000. Here, the dynamic range and colour tones have been captured well.
Like its counterparts, the NX1000 has a dynamic range of approximately 11EV at ISO 100, which is solid if unspectacular for a camera at this level. The camera does not offer a HDR mode to extend the dynamic range, although auto exposure bracketing up to ±3EV is possible. The use of a tripod is ideal in this mode as the three frames are captured one after the other, and the files require blending post-capture to combine the extra tonal information.
LCD, viewfinder and video
Instead of a 614,000-dot AMOLED screen as in the NX210 and NX20, the NX1000 has a 921,000-dot TFT type. An AMOLED screen is supposedly a brighter type, but I still found the NX1000’s LCD screen perfectly adequate for all but extreme bright conditions. It will be interesting to see if Samsung introduces touch functionality to the LCD screens of its NX cameras, and whether the articulated screen used in the NX20 will find its way to the compact-style NX models. I am sure users would appreciate either or both of these functions, especially given the relatively high price of the camera. In this respect, I feel the camera lags behind some of its competitors.
Given its size, it is no surprise to find that there is no built-in viewfinder on the NX1000. There is no accessory port, either, which means an EVF cannot be used. Video capture at 1080p full HD is possible at 30fps, 25fps and 24fps, with stereo sound.
I find it a little strange that Samsung has three cameras in its NX range that all feature the same 20.3-million-pixel sensor, metering and AF system. In many respects there is little to choose between them, especially the NX210 and NX1000, apart from differences in build quality. With so little to distinguish them, the NX1000 is perhaps the most appealing of all, given that it is priced well below the other two cameras. That said, against its competition the NX1000 is anything but competitively priced.
Given the target audience, the camera does not include direct controls for quick manual-exposure adjustments. However, once photographers are familiar with the camera, this will not be much of a hindrance, especially due to the functionality provided by the i-Fn lenses.
Judged in its own right, I am very impressed with the camera’s sensor, which can resolve a lot of detail. Wi-Fi is a key selling point, but is currently not without is operational hiccups. I would expect these issues to be ironed out very soon, although the Wi-Fi function is great fun to use. All in all, the NX1000 deserves to be a popular camera indeed.