Samsung NX1000 £599

1st Mar 2013 | 09:55

Samsung NX1000

Samsung's lightweight baby of the NX lineup

TechRadar rating:

4 stars

Like:

Great editing options; Range of creative filters; Low noise at high ISOs; Good video options;

Dislike:

Lag between shots; Colour in scene modes can be too intense;

Introduction

The Samsung NX1000 is the entry-level model in Samsung's latest generation of NX line compact system cameras (CSCs).

With an RRP of £599 / US$699 / AU$649 (and a street price that's come down considerably since its launch), the plastic-bodied, 20.3 megapixel Samsung NX1000 is clearly aimed at photographers looking to take the next step with their photography and take more control over the picture-taking process.

Key to the Samsung NX1000's rather impressive spec sheet for a camera of this class is its aforementioned 20.3 million pixel APS-C CMOS sensor, an ISO range stretching from 100 to 12,800 and Full HD movie recording.

Samsung NX1000 review

It also boasts two of Samsung's signature features: built-in Wi-Fi connectivity and its iFunction lens technology, which enables you to make adjustments to manual settings such as aperture, shutter speed, ISO, white balance and exposure compensation simply by pressing a button on the lens. By rotating the lens' focus ring, photographers can fine tune a composition.

Other key features include 8fps continuous shooting, Sweep Panorama functionality, six Smart Filters that apply a range of creative effects to your photos, and an iScene mode, which enables photographers to select scene modes via the lens.

Lastly, there's no built-in flash or viewfinder on the Samsung NX1000, but there is a hotshoe, and the camera comes with a small flash unit that slides into the hotshoe.

Available in white, black and pink, the Samsung NX1000 comes bundled with a 20-50mm lens.

Build quality and handling

Samsung NX1000 review

Though plastic-bodied cameras have become passé, the Samsung NX1000 doesn't feel like any old plastic camera. The plastic is thick, the camera feels robust, and despite our best efforts, there were none of those hollow sounds you hear when tapping plastic camera bodies.

What's more, the doors and buttons are all tight and secure, and you get a sense that the camera was carefully constructed. The camera also benefits from metal buttons and tripod and lens mounts, which give it the added feel of quality construction.

While not as small as other entry-level CSCs on the market, such as the Panasonic GF5 and Olympus PEN Mini E-PM2, it is perfectly sized and contoured for our hands. Subtle and sensible grips on the front - and a thumb grip on the back - keep the camera secure, and during our tests it never felt in danger of slipping away.

Samsung NX1000 review

Also, while other entry-level CSCs may be a bit smaller, their kit lenses can be rather large. And the Samsung 20-50mm kit lens is very small and light.

With the lens mounted, we were able to carry the Samsung NX1000 sans camera bag in the pocket of a winter coat during a forest hike.

Our only niggles with the build are with the camera's button layout. While the camera always feels secure, when shooting landscape-orientation photos your thumb covers the Fn button (it lies just under the knuckle), and when shooting portrait-orientation photos your thumb covers the one-touch movie record button.

Samsung NX1000 review

Most of the time this was fine, but on a few occasions we accidentally pressed these buttons, causing us to have to stop and recompose.

That said, the traditional mode dial on the camera's top plate is a really nice touch and a fast, simple way to switch between modes. The Samsung NX1000's 3-inch LCD screen is also quite bright and easily viewable in bright sunlight or under a dark forest canopy.

On the camera's top plate is a Smart Link button that connects to your preferred Wi-Fi network. You can then select files to share with your smartphone, social networking site or simply back up your files by transferring them to a PC.

Samsung NX1000 review

In Wi-Fi mode you are presented with a number of interesting options. MobileLink enables you to connect a smartphone to your camera and copy photos and videos from the camera to your phone. Remote Viewfinders enables you to capture and preview images from your smartphone by downloading an app.

Social Sharing enables you to upload images and videos to your social networking sites. You can Email photos, Auto Backup images by transferring them wirelessly to your PC and play back photos and videos on any device via TV Link when it is connect to the same wireless access point. Finally, you can also upload photos to store on SkyDrive.

And the Samsung NX1000's Wi-Fi connectivity was excellent in use. It always found our preferred network and connected quickly, even when our iPad, for instance, couldn't. Typing in email addresses and passwords can be a little cumbersome using the wheel to scroll through and press each letter, but it is still a nice feature.

Playback mode, however, is a combination of excitement and frustration. It took us a while to figure out that the only way to zoom into photos is to press the OK button in the centre of the wheel on the back of the camera. And then to zoom in further, you must rotate the wheel clockwise.

Samsung NX1000 review

It's a simple enough process, but when most other cameras have a simple, one-button zoom feature in image playback, it does seem rather cumbersome.

What's more, viewing your images as thumbnails in playback mode is a lot more complex than it needs to be. Once in playback mode you must press the Menu button to enter the playback menu. Then you must scroll through the options, select the thumbnail view setting and choose the number you would like displayed per screen. It seems an unnecessary number of steps.

That said, the Samsung NX1000's playback mode offers a number of interesting editing options via the Fn button. Simply press the Fn button and you'll see a menu offering the opportunity to apply the NX1000's various Smart Filter effects, Red-eye fix, apply Backlight (to brighten a dark subject), resize your photo, rotate an image, apply Face Retouch, adjust Brightness, Contrast or add Vignetting.

Samsung NX1000 review

It's a great range of options to have, and we found them very useful - in fact, saving a few shots that would have otherwise been wasted.

The Samsung NX1000's movie mode was also very pleasant to use. Photographers have the option of making adjustments to metering, white balance, ISO and AF mode, as well as using any of the Picture Wizard colour options, during video recording.

Other features to note - like its older sibling, the Samsung NX210, which it sits below in Samsung's lineup, the NX1000 offers a custom function button on the back of the camera.

However, it lacks the NX210's exposure compensation button; instead, this is included in the four-way button (the bottom option). The Samsung NX1000 also offers a micro HDMI port (the NX210 offers mini HDMI).

In terms of the camera's menus, it couldn't be any simpler to use. There are three pages of record mode options offering the standard fare, along with a few interesting features such as Framing Mode and Picture Wizard's image colour options. Scrolling to and hovering on an option brings up a dialog box explaining what each one does.

Performance

If this camera can be summed up in one sentence, it's this: the Samsung NX1000 exceeded all of our expectations in terms of image quality, and the only thing that lets it down is its speed. For starters, by the time you switch the camera on and are ready to take a photo, it's been nearly three seconds.

Three seconds doesn't sound like a whole lot of time, but when your child is pulling a stupid face or the Yeti is flashing a peace sign before diving into the forest, those three seconds can actually make or break a photo.

In other ways the camera is very speedy. Switching between scene modes and changing exposure times, for instance, is seamless.

Samsung NX1000 review

However, we shot JPEG + raw for the purposes of this test - a common setting most photographers use - and on average it took about three seconds between shots for the Samsung NX1000 to process images. Taking a picture of a waterfall, for instance, then pressing the playback button to check it was sharp, meant that each time we had to wait while the screen flashed 'Processing'.

Even taking a picture and then turning off the camera, as you might do in a museum or another place where you're trying to be discreet, the NX1000 flashes 'Processing' before finally shutting off. This could get rather frustrating after a while.

That said, the image quality exceeded all of our expectations. The 20.1-million-pixel sensor captured clear, sharp images, and we were even able to achieve sharp images shooting handheld at shutter speeds as slow as 1/5 sec.

Samsung NX1000 review

Noise is also very well contained in images from ISO 100-1600, which enabled us to shoot handheld under a dark forest canopy and photograph a waterfall from a range of angles. The first hints of noise show up at ISO 3200, but even this is still very good.

The big jump in quality occurs at ISO 6400 and 12,800. Noise is visible in all the images we took at these settings - but that said, if your goal is simply to share these photos online via the Samsung NX1000's Wi-Fi connectivity, you have nothing to worry about shooting at ISO 12,800. This is incredible flexibility.

Colour rendition, as well, is quite good on the whole. Images are natural-looking, and this is achieved in a range of light conditions. We did find images a little colder in mixed lighting, but not grossly so.

Samsung NX1000 review

And the Samsung NX1000's generous number of in-camera editing options enable you to tweak this quite easily in playback mode. The camera is also capable of capturing detail across a range of tones, even in strong light.

Likewise, the camera's AF system proved very accurate. While not the fastest (as a CSC the Samsung NX1000 uses a contrast AF system rather than phase detection), it was never wrong. Even when shooting dark subjects in dull lighting it was able to pick out the key elements in the frame and get them sharp.

Using the centre AF point, in particular, makes it easy to get sharp images, thanks to a feature enabling you to enlarge the centre point. Simply press the OK button in the centre of the four-way button on the back of the camera. Move the AF point to your selected location and scroll clockwise with the wheel to enlarge it.

Samsung NX1000 review

The camera offers four AF modes: Face Detection, Multi AF, Selection AF and a Self-Portrait Tracking AF mode. When focusing manually, an MF Assist function accessed via the main menu can be used to magnify the scene on the LCD by x5 or x8.

Simply apply your desired setting in the menu, then as you twist the focus ring your scene - and subject - magnifies, enabling you to fine tune for precise focus. This was very handy when shooting close-up shots of moss formations on logs, for instance, during our test.

Video we shot was crisp and clear, and one nice feature was the ability to record a video to be played at different speeds using the Multi Motion option. You can choose from speeds of x0.25, x0.5, x1, x5, x10 and x20. You might not use these all the time, but it's a nice option to have.

Other handy features in Movie Mode are a Fader option for setting a fade-in or fade-out effect on your movies, and the option to enable or disable voice recording for a video.

Samsung NX1000 review

Image quality and resolution

As part of our image quality testing for the Samsung NX1000, we've shot our resolution chart.

If you view our crops of the resolution chart's central section at 100% (or Actual Pixels) you will see that, for example, at ISO 100 the Samsung NX1000 is capable of resolving up to around 24 (line widths per picture height x100) in its highest quality JPEG files.

For a full explanation of what our resolution charts mean, and how to read them, check out our full explanation of our camera testing resolution charts.

Examining images of the chart taken at each sensitivity setting reveals the following resolution scores in line widths per picture height x100:

JPEG

Samsung NX1000 review

Full ISO 100 image, see the cropped (100%) versions below.

Samsung NX1000 review

ISO 100, score: 24 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Samsung NX1000 review

ISO 200, score: 24 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Samsung NX1000 review

ISO 400, score: 24 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Samsung NX1000 review

ISO 800, score: 22 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Samsung NX1000 review

ISO 1600, score: 20 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Samsung NX1000 review

ISO 3200, score: 16 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Samsung NX1000 review

ISO 6400, score: 14 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Samsung NX1000 review

ISO 12800, score: 10 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Raw

Samsung NX1000 review

ISO 100, score: 24 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Samsung NX1000 review

ISO 200, score: 24 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Samsung NX1000 review

ISO 400, score: 24 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Samsung NX1000 review

ISO 800, score: 22 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Samsung NX1000 review

ISO 1600, score: 20 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Samsung NX1000 review

ISO 3200, score: 18 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Samsung NX1000 review

ISO 6400, score: 18 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Samsung NX1000 review

ISO 12800, score: 10 (Click here to see the full resolution image)

Noise and dynamic range

We shoot a specially designed chart in carefully controlled conditions and the resulting images are analysed using DXO Analyzer software to generate the data to produce the graphs below.

A high signal to noise ratio (SNR) indicates a cleaner and better quality image.

For more more details on how to interpret our test data, check out our full explanation of our noise and dynamic range tests.

Here we compare the Samsung NX1000 with the Nikon 1 J3, Olympus PEN Mini E-PM2 and Panasonic GF5.

JPEG signal to noise ratio

Samsung NX1000 review

These results show that JPEG images from the Samsung NX1000 hold their own with the Nikon 1 J3 and Olympus PEN Mini E-PM2 in terms of signal to noise ratio on show, producing very similar results at every sensitivity setting, and are even stronger than those from the Panasonic GF5 at every ISO.

Raw signal to noise ratio

Samsung NX1000 review

The signal to noise ratios of TIFF images (after conversion from raw) from the Samsung NX1000 are weaker than the SNR in its JPEG images, falling below those from the Olympus PEN Mini E-PM2 at every ISO setting. They show stronger ratios than the Nikon 1 J3 at lower ISOs, and the same ratios as the Panasonic GF5 at lower ISOs, until ISO 800 when they fall behind the Nikon and overtake the Panasonic.

JPEG dynamic range

Samsung NX1000 review

JPEG results for dynamic range are less impressive than those for signal to noise ratio, with the Samsung NX1000 producing a weaker dynamic range than the Olympus PEN Mini E-PM2 at every sensitivity setting. The Samsung is slightly stronger than the Nikon 1 J3 at ISO 200, while it is also stronger than the Panasonic GF5 at ISO 200 and ISO 400, but drops off after that, briefly overtaking the Panasonic again at the top of the ISO range.

Raw dynamic range

Samsung NX1000 review

This chart indicates that TIFF images (after conversion from raw) from the Samsung NX1000 have less dynamic range than Olympus PEN Mini E-PM2, but a greater dynamic range than the Panasonic GF5, at every sensitivity settings. The Samsung's TIFF images show a greater dynamic range than the Nikon 1 J3's at lower ISOs, but fall behind after ISO 400.

Sample images

Samsung NX1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

With a bright sky filling the background and a dark, textured wall in the foreground, the Samsung NX100 was able to balance both, preserving highlight detail in the clouds and finer details in the bricks and plastic bag.

Samsung NX1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Using the centre AF point and expanding its area made it very easy to get this image in focus in the centre of the wheel.

Samsung NX1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

This is the roof over a Sainsbury's car park, which we were able to get in difficult lighting shooting handheld by increasing the ISO.

Samsung NX1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Using the MF Assist feature for manual focusing subjects helps fine tune your area of focus - particularly shooting close-ups.

Samsung NX1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

We found the effects of the scene modes to be a little over-exaggerated sometimes. This scene was shot using the Sunset mode option at around 4pm when the sun was already low in the sky.

Samsung NX1000 review

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A flip-out screen would be useful on a camera like the Samsung NX1000 for taking pictures from lower perspectives, but the camera's bright LCD was nevertheless quite easy to see in all lighting conditions.

Samsung NX1000 review

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The Samsung NX1000 makes it easy to quickly change exposure settings, such as in this shot when we decided to blur movement. Simply press the bottom of the four-way button to move between shutter speed and aperture, then scroll the wheel to your desired setting.

Samsung NX1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

An old film effect is one of the many creative art filters you can apply to your images.

Sensitivity and noise images

JPEG

Samsung NX1000 review

Full ISO 100 image, see the cropped (100%) versions below.

Samsung NX1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

ISO 100

Samsung NX1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

ISO 200

Samsung NX1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

ISO 400

Samsung NX1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

ISO 800

Samsung NX1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

ISO 1600

Samsung NX1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

ISO 3200

Samsung NX1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

ISO 6400

Samsung NX1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

ISO 12800

Raw

Samsung NX1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

ISO 100

Samsung NX1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

ISO 200

Samsung NX1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

ISO 400

Samsung NX1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

ISO 800

Samsung NX1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

ISO 1600

Samsung NX1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

ISO 3200

Samsung NX1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

ISO 6400

Samsung NX1000 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

ISO 12800

Verdict

Despite some issues with speed and a somewhat odd playback mode, the Samsung NX1000 offers photographers making the jump to interchangeable lens cameras a lot of flexibility and creative potential.

Image quality is the main thing at the end of the day, and the Samsung NX1000's vibrant, realistic colours, sharp detail and ability to contain noise makes it a great option for someone looking to get more serious with their photography.

We liked

The in-camera editing options can really help rescue some otherwise wasted shots, and the range of creative art filters and Picture Wizard colour effects give photographers even more options. Noise is well-contained at higher ISOs. Options to make image adjustments during video recording help make the camera a powerful tool.

We disliked

Speed. Even switching to faster memory cards and shooting just JPEGs, the Samsung NX1000 is still slow between shots. And while colour rendition was great in the standard shooting modes, in the NX1000's scene modes the effects were often too exaggerated.

Final verdict

The Samsung NX1000 may be plastic-bodied and a little slow at times, but it's quite a capable camera with a number of genuinely useful features that photographers will use often.

Given the street price the Samsung NX1000 now fetches and the camera's image quality and flexibility, this is both a great 'first serious camera' and one that even more experienced photographers might want to keep in their hand bag or briefcase for those decisive moments on your daily commute.

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