With a 20.3-million-pixel APS-C sensor and a brand new 16-50mm F/3.5-f/5.6 kit lens for around £350, is the Samsung NX3000 the best value NX camera yet? We find out in our Samsung NX3000 review
Samsung NX3000 – Pros
- Flip-out 3in LCD
- APS-C Size Sensor
- Retro Styling
Samsung NX3000 – Cons
- No Touchscreen
- Heavy In-Camera Noise Reduction
- No Phase Detection AF
Samsung NX3000 review – Introduction
Not long after the release of the Samsung NX Mini comes this, the new Samsung NX3000. It’s positioned between the NX Mini and the NX300 as a replacement to the NX2000. The NX3000 offers a larger image sensor than the NX Mini but overall, it has a very similar specification.
It’s clear to see this camera is geared towards the mass market with a flip-up screen for selfies being one of its key selling points. The question is, does it have what it takes to capture the interest of the more discerning photographer?
With competition from cameras such as the Sony Alpha 5000, which boasts a very similar specification, it will be hard for Samsung to make its mark on this section of the market. The APS-C sized sensor, great WiFi
connectivity and a decent range of NX lenses work in the NX3000’s favour but does Samsung do enough?
Image: Using the flip-up screen, it’s easy to shoot at low angles to give your pictures extra impact
Samsung NX3000 review – Features
Inside the Samsung NX3000 is an APS-C sized CMOS sensor (23.5×15.7mm) with a 20.3-million-pixel resolution. This is the same size and resolution as many Samsung cameras such as the Samsung NX300 and Samsung NX30. However, this sensor doesn’t boast on-chip phase detection like the aforementioned cameras do.
Like the NX Mini, the NX3000 has an ISO sensitivity range of ISO 100-25600, and the two share the same processor. This allows for a shooting rate of 5fps in full resolution JPEG. Images can be captured in either raw or JPEG format and these images are saved to a MicroSD card as opposed to the more conventional SD card.
The MicroSD format has the advantage of being compatible with many smartphones or tablets, so offering a great hardware solution to transferring pictures, although, as expected from Samsung, the WiFi and NFC connectivity is extensive on the NX3000. Users can select and transfer images to a smartphone or device, send images to a group of up to four people at once and also control the camera remotely via the Samsung SMART camera application.
As a kit the Samsung NX3000 comes bundled with the new 16-50mm Power Zoom f/3.5-f/5.6 ED OIS lens which was announced at CES earlier this year. This is a fantastic lens that allows users to quietly zoom during video recording. Also, it is optically stabilised and boasts the iFunction button. This button can be pressed to toggle through and quickly change settings such as ISO, White Balance and Exposure Compensation. It can be customised to suit the user and overall is one of the features we particularly like about Samsung lenses.
There are also a couple of other neat extras. A small SEF-8 external flash is bundled with the camera and so is a full copy of Adobe Lightroom 5. This is certainly preferable over many companies’ proprietary raw file editing software.
Image: This shot was adjusted in colour and tone using the free copy of Adobe Lightroom 5 that’s supplied with the NX3000
Samsung NX3000 review – Build and Handling
Compared to its predecessor the NX2000, the NX3000 is fractionally smaller and lighter. Weighing just 230g without the battery and measuring 117.4 x 65.9 x 39mm, the NX3000 is easy to carry. Of course, with a protruding 16-50mm lens attached it’s not going to fit inside a trouser pocket. However, it’s small enough not to take up too much space inside a camera bag.
As the NX3000 doesn’t have a touchscreen, many of the settings are changed with physical controls. There’s a d-pad on the back which doubles as a scroll wheel, and four controls are around it – delete, playback, main menu and a function button. The function button takes care of the majority of commonly used settings including AF area, metering, White Balance and ISO.
The NX3000 shares the same DRIMe IV processor as the NX Mini. When writing raw+JPEG images simultaneously this processor is very slow, taking anything up to a couple of seconds before the camera can be used again even with a class 10 card.
What’s instantly noticeable is the NX3000’s retro styling. Samsung itself quotes the camera’s finish as ‘premium vintage’. The body has a silver top and a leather-styled textured front available in either brown, white or black that wraps around the handgrip.
Exactly like the recent NX Mini, the NX3000 features a flip-up screen – a 3in TFT LCD with a resolution of 460,800 dots.
In use, the screen isn’t difficult to see in bright daylight and the refresh rate is also good. Colours on screen appear to be accurate to the final image produced. The tilt-up screen is advantageous for those users who like shooting from low angles or from the hip. By default, tilting the screen up will power the camera on and activate Self Shot mode for taking selfies – this can be turned off inside the menu.
Its predecessor, the NX2000, boasted a 1,152k 3.7in TFT touchscreen LCD. For the serious photographer this would of course have been a much more desirable option as the low resolution flip-screen of the NX3000 feels like a downgrade from the older model.
Recent Samsung NX cameras such as the NX30 and NX300 have featured on-chip phase detection AF alongside contrast detection AF. This hybrid autofocusing was very fast, finding focus quickly and accurately. Rather disappointingly though, the NX3000 has the same 21-area contrast autofocusing system as the older NX2000.
In bright conditions the AF is quick and finds focus well in both single AF and Continuous AF. In low-light conditions the focusing isn’t slow but I found the camera less capable of identifying the right focal point of the image. It has a tendency to gravitate towards areas of high contrast where it can obtain focus.
More accurate control over the AF point can be gained by using selection AF – this a single point which is re-positionable. However, this is where the lack of touchscreen functionality is a huge disadvantage.
Within the menus there are also options for manual focusing. Although the camera doesn’t feature focus peaking, it does have MF assist enlargement of x5 or x8.
Metering options are Multi, Centre-Weighted and Spot. A setting inside the menu allows users to link or unlink the metering to or from the AF point. In general the metering is quite accurate although the camera does tend to meter in a way that preserves lots of highlight detail. I found when shooting backlit subjects in Multi metering and evaluative the camera would meter for the small portion of the frame which was very bright in exposure. This forced me to adjust the exposure compensation up to +3EV in order to correct it.
Colour rendition can often vary between shots even when shooting in similar lighting conditions, but for the most part the colours are usually very punchy and vibrant while the darker tones are rendered low in saturation.
The automatic white balance setting does a good job across the board although when faced with conflicting light sources it does struggle to render colours between the two sources.
Samsung NX3000 review – Resolution, Dynamic Range and Noise
Samsung NX3000 review – Resolution
As you can see from the resolution charts at ISO 100 the NX3000 resolves a large amount of detail, on a par with many APS-C sensor DSLRs. Detail reproduction is very good right up to ISO 800. Thereafter, the detail in JPEG images starts to become broken down by the in-camera noise reduction.
Samsung NX3000 review – Dynamic Range
The NX3000 has a respectable dynamic range of around 12.7EV. But due to the metering exposing for maximum highlight detail, shadow detail was often blocked up in the JPEGs in high contrast scenes. By using the sliders in Lightroom and/or shooting +1EV, much more detail can be gained from an image.
Samsung NX3000 review – Noise
Images up to ISO 800 show a small amount of luminance noise. After ISO 1600 raw images show some luminance noise while the JPEG images are mostly noise-free. However, this is at the expense of a lot finer detail due to the in-camera noise reduction. The detailed areas appear mushy as the noise reduction starts to become stronger further up the ISO sensitivity range. The raw files can be processed in Lightroom to achieve much more detailed results.
Samsung NX3000 review – Our verdict
For the more serious photographer, the changes from the NX2000 to the NX3000 will offer little benefit, especially for those wishing to strive for better image quality and ease of use. The redesign of the camera is tailored toward the mass market and as a result it appears to be less of an upgrade and more of a downgrade. Inside the Samsung line-up, any enthusiast photographers would be better off looking at the NX300.
In general, image quality is good at low ISOs but loses credibility the higher it is pushed particularly in the JPEG images where noise reduction is heavy. Autofocusing is sometimes inaccurate but this perhaps won’t bother the more casual users. The Self Shot Mode works well particularly for selfies with friends and family. As a casual point-and-shoot, the NX3000 is a good camera for capturing family moments and sharing images across social media. In addition, it also offers good value for money, as long as you don’t expect too much of it.
Samsung NX3000 review – Key features
Movies can be recorded in 1920×1080 resolution at 25p with full manual control in PASM and the built-in mic captures stereo sound.
Mobile Connect Button
This brings up the menu for Mobile Connections allowing users to capture images direct from a smart device or remotely control the camera.
NX Lens Mount
A total of 14 NX lenses are available for the NX series of cameras including everything from fast prime to long telephoto lenses.
The same 2330 mAh b740AE battery as the NX Mini is featured inside the NX3000 which is rated to 370 shots.
Micro USB charging
A great advantage of the NX3000 is that it is charged via Micro USB allowing users to simply charge from an external power pack.
A button on the lens allows users to call up settings such as ISO, Exposure Compensation and White Balance and change the settings.
See the sample image gallery of the NX3000