The NX500 places the NX1’s impressive 28-million-pixel sensor into a compact body. Andy Westlake finds out whether it’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing
Samsung NX500 review: Video
The NX500’s headline video feature is undoubtedly its ability to record at 4K resolution direct to the SD card, at 4096 x 2160 pixels and 24fps or 3840 x 2160 pixels and 30fps, using the same space-efficient H.265 codec as the NX1. Unlike with the NX1, however, the 4K video is read-only from the centre of the sensor, giving a considerable 1.68x field-of-view crop. This is great for shooting distant subjects such as sports, but problematic if you want to record sweeping vistas. Fortunately, Samsung allows you to preview the cropped view before you start recording by pressing the Custom/Delete key, and it’s well worth making habit of doing this. (In fact this key is so easily pressed inadvertently that you may find yourself doing so more then expected.)
Most users will probably still prefer to shoot in full HD, and here the NX500 is capable of 60, 30 or 24fps recording at 1920 x 1080-pixel resolution. High-speed and slow-speed recording modes are also included. Full manual control is available during movie recording – you can change shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and exposure compensation, and pull focus from one subject to another using the touchscreen. A zebra-pattern display can be used to warn of overexposure, and a peaking display used for manual focusing. The only real disappointment, given all this, is the inability to plug-in an external microphone.
The quality of 4K footage is superb – it’s noticeably cleaner and more detailed than the camera’s full HD output when viewed on my full HD TV. But it also takes up about twice as much card space, and currently is far more difficult to edit. So for casual shooting, these are a couple of good reasons to stick to full HD.
The NX500 has one single viewing option, an OLED touchscreen that tilts downwards for overhead shots, upwards for use as a waist-level finder, or forwards to put the camera into selfie mode. It’s easy to dismiss this as a gimmick, but personally I like tilting screens for everyday shooting. They’re great for unobtrusive street photography, and don’t get between you and your subjects when shooting portraits.
The display is clear and detailed, and its colour rendition is accurate. It works pretty well when shooting indoors or in subdued light, but it can be difficult to see in bright sunlight, even with the brightness turned right up as high as it will go. Unfortunately, there’s no option for an electronic viewfinder.