The heart of the Samsung NX1000 is a 20.3 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor. The mirrorless camera features high-speed capture and fast auto focusing, an ISO range of 100-12,800, built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, a 3-inch LCD screen, 1080p HD movie recording, 8fps continuous shooting, and Sweep Panoramas. The NX1000 is available in black, pink or white and is currently listed on the Samsung website for $599.
The NX1000 has a rounded, beefy handgrip which doubles as the camera battery and memory storage unit. Even though the body is plastic, the camera feels relatively durable and substantial. The not-bright-enough LCD touch screen can be used to control many camera functions as well as guide you through the extensive menu system. The 20-megapixel sensor may be the camera's best feature, capable of producing some stunning photos. Even though the body of the NX1000 is plastic, the lens mount is metal, as is the tripod mount.
There is no viewfinder and no built-in flash. Our test model did come with an external pop-up flash (SEF-15A) that slips into the camera hot shoe. The flash is actually one of the strongest features of this camera. We left ours attached throughout the entire test period. Samsung offers an optional EVF viewfinder (EVF10) which slots into the same connector but, of course, you cannot use the flash and EVF at the same time. Bummer.
We tested the NX1000 with the 20-50mm II, which has the built-in i-Functionality but no optical stabilization. That is a big fail as the NX system doesn't offer in-body stabilization. As a result, our video tests suffered greatly.
The i-Function button on the lens barrel activates a sub-menu of key options and allows you to change them simply by turning the focus ring. The button moves through the five available settings: shutter speed and/or aperture, exposure compensation, white balance and ISO. Everything offered by the i-Function button can be done using the control wheel on the rear of the camera, which is much more intuitive. So, i-Function left me a little confused.
We tested the NX1000 in the harsh environment of Antarctica
The Smart Shoe will accept Samsung flashguns (SEF-42A, SEF-20A and SEF-15A) and other accessories such as the previously mentioned EVF and the GPS unit (GPS10). Two microphone holes on top of the camera allow for capturing stereo sound. The Smart Link button allows you to send images from the camera to a compatible smartphone or tablet.
The round mode dial offers a choice of shooting modes and is located on the far-right. Unfortunately, my thumb would inadvertently hit this wheel when trying to focus and could cause the camera to respond as if I were trying to change modes. I am not sure if there was a slight short in the electronics or what, but it was very annoying. As soon as I would begin focusing on a subject in the LCD, the screen would display a menu of choices, as if I had changed shooting modes.
The Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual are on hand for those comfortable with making their own choices. Smart Auto is the point-and-shoot option, and does a very good job in most shooting situations. There are also Scene modes allowing the user to manually choose from a variety of shooting environments. Lens Priority is a bit unique as it offers a limited choice of Scene modes based on the lens you have mounted to the camera. I am not sure why they just did not build this feature into Scene mode or Smart Auto instead of offering a separate mode.
A Video mode instructs the shutter button to be used as a Record/Stop button. The NX1000 can record Full HD 1080p 1920x1080 and 720p 1280x720 movies and VGA 640x480 or 320x260 movies, all at 30 frames per second. There's also a cinematic 1920x810 pixel, 24fps mode. The Movie mode is accessed by selecting the Movie option on the mode dial followed by pressing the shutter button to begin recording, or you can use the dedicated one-touch Record button on the rear of the camera.
The built-in Wi-Fi mode offers an array of available options. Users can email their images, upload them directly to Facebook, Picasa, Photobucket and YouTube, or copy them to a home PC via Auto Backup. However, I was unable to figure out how to send images to my MacBook Pro. MobileLink allows you to send images to a smartphone or tablet. And, TV Link takes the place of a physical HDMI connection by playing back photos on any device that's connected to the same wireless access point as the camera. Whew! That's a lot of gimmickry built into a single camera.
I was a little disappointed in the LCD unit on the NX1000 in the bright sunlight of Antarctica. I found the screen very difficult to see unless looking straight at it. If I moved the camera down or up, the screen went out of sight.
To the right of the LCD is a familiar round control wheel. Surprisingly, there's no button for exposure compensation.
A very useful Fn button (Function) gives easy access to the most important camera options via the Smart Panel. The graphic interface allows you to move around and select camera settings using the LCD screen in conjunction with the control wheel.
It takes less than 1 second for the NX1000 to "boot up". Achieving focus using the AF system is quick and accurate. The only problems we encountered with auto focus was when shooting video using Continuous AF.
The NX1000's Burst shooting mode is very robust allowing you to capture up to 8 frames per second at the highest JPEG quality. You can capture up to 15 JPEGs if you choose the slower 3fps option. I used this when shooting photos of whales in Antarctica, trying to capture the moment when the fluke came out of the water.
During my test period, I used the the 20.3 megapixel SuperFine JPEG setting. The average photo size was about 7mb.
Overall, the photo quality of the NX1000 was excellent. Samsung has nailed it with the 20.3 megapixel sensor producing noise-free JPEGs. When shooting outdoors in Antarctica, I set the camera to Program mode using ISO 100 and the colors and sharpness were exceptional. When shooting indoors, I set the camera to Smart Auto, which of course, uses the Auto ISO.
One of the strongest features of the NX1000 was the flash photos. The small included pop-up external flash unit did an excellent job, even shooting photos from 15 feet away. There is a seemingly endless range of flash settings using the Fn button. However, the menu option only appears when the flash unit is deployed. If you are serious about night photos, you will appreciate the 30-second shutter speed and 8-minute bulb mode. Without question, the NX1000 produced the best flash photos of any camera we have tested at Travel Tech.
Excellent panorama shooting mode (click to see full size)
Click to see full size
Another "best-we-have-ever-tested" feature is the Panorama shooting mode. This mode allows you to capture wide panorama shots by sweeping the camera from left to right (or vice-versa) while holding down the shutter release. The resulting shots were stunning to say the least, with none of the banding you commonly see on stitched-together photos.
Unfortunately, Video was the biggest disappointment we had with the NX1000. The first issue was with continuous auto-focus. The camera continuously hunts for a focus point causing your subjects to blur and sharpen repeatedly. And, to make matters worse, the AF motor noise can be heard on the audio track as the camera attempts to find focus. Of course, you can manually focus, but that should not be necessary on a mid-range camera like this.
The second issue is with the lens. Even though you can zoom while shooting video, the zoom ring on our test camera was very "sticky" and not smooth at all. This makes smooth zooming in or out an impossible task.
The NX1000 is a camera that I really, really want to love. As a photo-only camera, it is one of the best we have ever tested. I love the fact that it takes RAW format images and the 20.3 mexapixel sensor is awesome. The Panorama and flash capabilities are the best I have tested on any camera to date. Unfortunately, the continuous AF lets the camera down when shooting video and the lens zoom ring feels cheap and clunky. Add that to the frustration of having the mode dial periodically throw up menus on the screen when you are trying to frame a shot, and I think I will have to wait until Samsung addresses some of these little niggles before an NX1000 will find its way into my camera bag.
WHAT I LIKE:
- Excellent photo quality (JPEG)
- RAW capture capability
- Excellent flash
- Panorama mode is second-to-none
- Excellent Smart Auto capability
WHAT I DON'T LIKE:
- Continuous AF is sketchy
- Zoom ring on lens is not smooth
- Menus flash on screen while you are framing a shot
Click on the thumbnails below to see the full size image
Samsung NX1000 Sample Video from Cruisereport on Vimeo.