Samsung NX300 review

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SAMSUNG NX300 SENSOR AND IMAGE QUALITY

APS-C sized sensor uses CMOS technology and has 20 megapixels. It is probably the best part about NX300. Images are truly splendid, especially in RAW mode. Low ISO is noise free, and I found it truly usable all the way up to ISO 3200.

At ISO 6400 something weird happened: images get strong blue hue which obliterates all the details in shadows. It can be removed in post process, but I wouldn’t use this camera above ISO 3200. My best guess is that ISO values from ISO 6400 – 25,600 are not native values, but what Canon and Nikon call “Extended” ISO values. Sadly, Samsung didn’t provide these details to public, or at least I couldn’t find them. Most of today’s better APS-C cameras provide quite good results at 6,400 but NX300 is not one of them.

ISO series (all shot in RAW, converted in ACR with default settings):

100 200 400 800 1,600 3,200 6,400 12,800 25,600

(You may notice there is no link on ISO 100 value… it’s because ISO 100 was disabled for some unknown reason and no matter how much I tried couldn’t make it work during the time of my review. To add to confusion, when used on Auto ISO NX300 regularly used ISO 100 value)

MEMORY AND BATTERY

NX300 uses familiar SD memory card format. Battery is Li-Ion unit capable of around 300 shots on a single charge. There is no external charger in retail package – you are supposed to charge the battery inside the camera. Many people like it that way, but it doesn’t allow charging of one battery while using the camera with the other – a big minus in my book.

LIVE VIEW, MENUS AND RESPONSIVITY

And now a few bad words about this camera…

NX300 I used had firmware version 1.1 which has so many flaws I don’t even know where to start. New v1.2 firmware was released 20.06., so  I missed it by few days. Here’s a list of what was updated, but without trying it in real life, it’s hard to tell how much better the camera performs.

  • Adding Multi-touch zoom, double tap zoom functions
  • Adding Minimum shutter speed settting function (ISO Auto in P or A mode)
  • Adding AF point moving function without focusing in Touch AF
  • Adding Touch screen on/off menu (Even touch off, playback mode and menu selection is worked by touch.)
  • Adding guide message off menu during mode change
  • Adding MIC sensitivity level adjustment menu
  • Adding MENU, FN button display off mode in display mode
  • Fixing exposure error in SmartRange+ mode
  • Adding auto rotate function
  • Improving AF quality
  • Improving SD card compatibility
  • Adding interfaces for new Lens line up
  • Improving that some video player does not play sound on end parts of video clip in PC

With original firmware, this camera has a wide range of flaws:

  • No RAW in green AUTO mode
  • No multi-touch
  • Wrong EXIF data shown on LCD during image playback
  • Irritating guide image shown each time mode dial is used
  • Settings made during data writing to memory card will be reset after writing is done and for most times, you cannot use Menu during data writing
  • ISO 100 was disabled; I could use only ISO 200 and above, but when set to “Auto ISO”, camera took pictures at ISO 100 without a problem
  • You cannot take a shot without the lens, therefore inability to use legacy manual lenses with adapter
  • Focus peaking works only with image magnification. This is useless since I don’t need peaking in magnified view – I see if it sharp enough. Peaking should work with full image display.

I’m sure there are more bugs, but I already feel like grumpy cat. You might wonder if there’a anything good about NX300, and there is. Menu system is visually nice and responsive and there are some options other cameras do not have, like AF point size selection in 4 levels.

SAMSUNG NX300 AUTOFOCUS

Autofocus is quite decent and in good light when it works as good as that on Sony NEX models. Still, it is slower in low light (Olympus still has the best focusing mirrorless cameras).  AF assist lamp is also present on NX300.

NX300 has a detail I noticed even on NX10 from 2010 but no competitor to this day implemented on theirs models: AF point can be resized in 4 levels. This is very practical since you can choose larger AF point for subjects like landscape or smaller point for shallow DOF portraits (focus on eyes).

SAMSUNG NX300 VIDEO RECORDING

NX300 can record video in Full HD (1920×1080) at real 60 or 50fps. Lower resolutions and frame rates are also available. Besides Sony NEX models, this is the only mirrorless to offer 60p or 50p at full HD. Videos are really nice; detailed and without “jello” effect.

In my video samples posted to Youtube, you can see how sticky zoom ring on 18-55 kit lens ruined them… any zoom action translates in sudden zoom jumps. Luckily, this is interchangeable lens camera, so you can choose amongst 13 Samsung NX lenses.


SAMSUNG NX300 REVIEW CONCLUSION 

After a few days spent using Samsung’s NX300, a simple conclusion comes to my mind: this camera is made for users coming to photography world from Smartphone background.

NX300 looks serious yet has flawed constructions due to neck strap position and small and cramped buttons. Images are of astonishing quality yet the camera suffers from a bunch of software bugs.

No true photographer would tolerate wrong EXIF data, guide menu image shown when changing shooting modes and a bunch of other irritating details which obstruct work. Some of these firmware bugs are fixed with the new v1.2 firmware, but until I try it for myself, it would be hard to tell to what extent it changes user experience.

A good camera must feel like a part of my hand, fast, responsive and easy to set up so it doesn’t interrupt creative shooting process. Sadly, NX300 is the exact opposite. I cannot recall any other camera which was irritating for use as this one. NX300 can deliver some nice photographs, but you will have to really want it for some reason since I can’t think why I would want to choose it over Sony or Olympus which (altough are not perfect) feel and work as a properly designed and tested products. But then, if you intend to leave NX300 in full AUTO mode and enjoy touch interface and Wi-Fi connection capability, NX300 is as good as any other mirroless camera.

PRO:

  • Excellent image quality (RAW especially)
  • Low high ISO noise (up to 3,200)
  • Design
  • Tilt & touch LCD
  • Wi-Fi and NFC built in (if you’re into that)
  • Video recording buttons is recessed (no accidental movies)
  • Selectable AF point size (4 levels)
  • 1080 50p video quality

CONS:

  • LCD is barely visible in daylight
  • Battery is charged inside camera
  • Huge boost in image noise at ISO 6,400 and above
  • Kit lens build quality (18-55)
  • No RAW in AUTO mode
  • Incorrect EXIF shown on camera LCD (true data shown only on PC)
  • Settings made during data writing to memory card will be reset after writing is done
  • Cannot fire shot without a lens (no ability for adapted lens use)
  • Rear controls to small and cramped
  • No external microphone input
  • Neck strap hinge positioned on the grip where it gets in the way
  • Focus peaking works only with image magnification
  • ISO 100 disabled yet exists (?)
  • Inability to turn off guide image when changing shooting modes

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2 thoughts on “Samsung NX300 review

  1. ‘ve owned the NX300 for more than three months. I replaced the generally-okay 20-50mm kit lens with the 30mm f2 and the 50-200mm f4 lenses, and found this to be a much superior and satisfying combination that is relatively compact but nonetheless capable of consistently excellent images. (Unfortunately, after just three or four uses, the tiny, plastic slide switch used to select AF or MF on the 50-200mm lens broke when I changed positions. I was surprised and very disappointed to learn that–without inspecting the lens!–Samsung considered this to “physical damage” not covered under the warranty.)

    The NX300 menu structure is more user-friendly than that on the Sony NEX cameras and far more intelligible than the Olympus MILCs. I agree with the assertion that in some respects Samsung released the NX300 before it was fully developed, finding this shortcoming most evident in after-sales product support.

    Overall, I find the NX300 to be a very good camera–which will improve to “great” if/when they release a compatible EVF–that has a selection of very good, reasonably priced lenses. While I’m therefore generally satisfied with my purchase, I’d be much happier if Samsung would direct some much needed focus on its product/customer support infrastructure.

  2. This is the worst review of nx300 I ever read. I own the camera and the flaws you encountered are either non existent or are simply due to a bad sample you had. The iso 100 “issue” is probably due to the selection of smart range mode in your settings. This could also explain the blue hue in high iso. Actually, this camera produces wonderful, detailed and almost noise free pics up to iso 8000, which is outstanding. Iq is better than nex and on par with fuji. Af is much faster than both and so are the generic operations.

    The camera is all but for smartphone shooters…it’s a tool appealing pro or semi-pro not wanting a bulky dslr.

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