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 – Dynamic Range
Just as we saw with the NX1, the NX500’s sensor gives impressive results in our Applied Imaging tests. This comes despite its high pixel count, and presumably thanks to its back-illuminated design. At ISO 100 it delivers a dynamic range of 12.7EV, which is excellent for an APS-C sensor, indicating that there should be plenty of detail recoverable from raw files deep into the shadows. It continues to give very good results up to ISO 800, but drops off thereafter, with the top three sensitivities giving particularly low readings.
The NX500 gives extremely clean images at base ISO, and there’s barely any impact of noise up to ISO 800, with just the faintest blurring of the finest pixel-level detail. At ISO 3200 we start to see more obvious loss of detail in fine textures and shadow regions, although this will probably only show up in large prints (16 x 12in, or A3+). From ISO 6400 onwards, noise becomes increasingly problematic: fine textures blur away, most shadow detail disappears, and colour rendition visibly deteriorates. At ISO 12,800, luminance noise starts to get completely out of control, and noise reduction destroys any subtle colour gradations. The top two sensitivities are very noisy indeed, with little detail or colour, so are best left alone unless there’s no other choice.