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Samsung NX1 Review – 28 MP 4K Wireless Smart Camera with 16-50mm Power Zoom Lens

by on May 18, 2016
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Overview

Samsung has remained one of the more innovative companies, especially when it comes to digital cameras. The NX1 was the first ever APS-C-sized, 28MP CMOS sensor that's backside illuminated. The BSI sensors move all the circuitry behind the light-capturing section of the sensor allowing it to capture more light. This significantly improves low light performance and reduces noise.

The NX1 does, however, find itself is a crowded field of other excellent DSLR and mirrorless cameras for around the same price. While the NX1 is certainly one of the best mirrorless cameras you can buy, competitors like the Panasonic DMC-GH4 give it a run for its money. Each camera has its own appeal, and it primarily comes down to what features you prefer. For example, the Panasonic provides excellent video specifications while the NX1 is an impressive low light performer, as mentioned.

Even though the NX1 shares a similar price tag to a number of other professional DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, it brings a few tricks to the table which make it an attractive buy for many photographers.

The Good

Sensor:The NX1’s APS-C size CMOS sensor with backside illumination was the first in its class. The 28 megapixel sensor is able to capture images with a resolution of 6480 x 4320. The design allows for a larger area which can capture light, contributing to the NX1’s impressive low light capabilities.

Processor: The NX1 is powered by the quad-core DRIMe V processor, which is derived from Samsung’s Exynos SoCs used in the company’s premium smartphones. It’s is capable of producing 28 megapixel images at 15 fps, recording 4K resolution video and reducing EVF lag to almost nothing.

Hybrid AF System: The autofocus system on the NX1, labeled the NX AF System III, is about as good as it gets. The hybrid label means it combines both contrast and phase detection to lock onto subjects. The system features 209 contrast detection and 205 cross-type phase detect points which cover 90% of the frame.

4K Video: The NX1 is able to capture 4K video at both DCI 4K and Ultra HD resolutions. The AF System also provides stellar autofocus for video recording, and the hybrid system helps avoid focus searching common in DSLRs.

4K resolution footage requires fast memory cards and powerful processors, but Samsung has lightened the load by using the H.265 (HEVC) codec. This codec promises the same quality as H.264 but at about half the bit rate. This in turn leads to significantly smaller file sizes.

Wireless Connectivity: Samsung was one of the pioneers of Wi-Fi on digital cameras, and they've continued to innovate in the area with the NX1. At launch, it was the first camera to support the 802.11ac protocol, which offers speeds up to 800Mbps. The NX1 also supports Bluetooth, a feature which reduces pairing times between smartphones and the camera. Wi-Fi is still used to connect the 2, but Bluetooth maintains a low-power connection between the two.

NX1 (3)

Check the Price of the Samsung NX1 28 MP 4K Wireless Smart Camera with 16-50mm Power Zoom Lens on Amazon:

4.4 - 67 Reviews

The Bad

In most ways, the NX1 is a spectacular low light camera. However, one area where it fell a bit short was with autofocusing in low light situations. Yes, the AF System overall is incredible, but the camera starts to go through searching loops in low light a bit sooner than competitors.

This struggle probably can be attributed to the aggressive approach Samsung took with the AF System. In good conditions, the camera focuses quicker and tracks subjects better than almost every other camera in its class, but something had to give. That said, it’s worth reiterating image quality remains exceptional in low light with the NX1. The camera only struggles with autofocus in those conditions.

While Samsung continues to build on its NX lens family, it is still quite a bit more limited than the vast catalogue of Canon EF or Nikon F lenses.

Final Thoughts

The NX1 features one the largest BSI sensors around and has one of the highest pixel counts on that format. It also incorporates one of the most extensive on-sensor phase detection systems in a camera at this price point. Considering all the features stuffed inside the NX1, it’s clear that Samsung wants to compete with the best professional cameras on the market.

Specs
  • Sensor Type / Size: CMOS, 23.5 x 15.7 mm
  • Lens Mount: Samsung NX
  • Camera Format: APS-C (1.5x Crop Factor)
  • Pixels
    • Actual: 30.7 Megapixel
    • Effective: 28.2 Megapixel
  • File Formats
    • Still Images: JPEG, RAW
    • Video: AVI, MP4
  • Display Screen: 3” Rear
  • ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100-25600 (Extended Mode: 100-51200)
  • Shutter: 30 - 1/8000 seconds in  Manual Mode
  • Continuous Shooting: Up to 15 fps at 28 MP  frames
  • Wi-Fi: Built-in 802.11ac
  • Dimensions (WxHxD): 5.5 x 4.0 x 2.6" / 14.0 x 10.2 x 6.6 cm
  • Weight: 19.4 oz / 550 g

NX1 (2)

Accessories

Samsung has built up an excellent collection of NX-mount lenses ideal for the NX1. Here are a few we recommend.

Samsung 16-50mm f/2-2.8 S ED OIS Lens

The 16-50mm f/2-2.8 S ED OIS Lens from Samsung is the first model in their Premium "S" Series. It provides a 35mm-equivalent focal length range of 24.6-77mm, excellent for both wide-angle and portrait-length perspectives. Its fast f/2.0 - 2.8 maximum aperture results in quality low light performance and allows for a pleasing shallow depth of field. The addition of optical image stabilization counteracts motion blur and results in significantly cleaner shots.

Samsung 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 ED OIS Lens

If you are going to have only one lens, Samsung's 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 ED OIS Lens might be the one to get. The impressive 11x wide-angle 27.7-308mm (equivalent in 35mm format) lens can handle just about any environment. The built-in optical image stabilizer helps produce sharp photos and video even when using the telephoto end of the zoom range. Another highlight feature of this lens is that you can change shutter speed, aperture, ISO and more right on the lens.

Samsung 45mm f/1.8 T6 2D/3D Lens

The 45mm f/1.8 (T6) 2D/3D Lens from Samsung is a unique hybrid 2D and 3D lens. When it’s in standard 2D mode it has a maximum aperture of f/1.8 great for low light shooting and shallow depth of field capability. The lens is also capable of producing 3D photos and videos. The functionality is turned on via a switch on the lens which drops a secondary dual LCD shutter which then creates two slightly different images which are both processed into one 3D image that is viewable on 3D-enabled televisions or other viewing devices.

SanDisk 64GB Extreme Pro UHS-I SDXC U3 Memory Card (Class 10)

The NX500 is useless without a memory card and the 64GB Extreme Pro UHS-I SDXC U3 Memory Card is one of best bets. It is a high-speed SDXC memory card rated Ultra High Speed Class 3 (U3) and SDXC Class 10, offering up to 95 MB/s read and 90 MB/s write speeds.

Highlights

Tilting display and EVF: The NX1 features a 3" Super AMOLED display, technology which should sound familiar if you own a Samsung smartphone. The display’s resolution is 720 x 480, with a total of 1.04M dots. Super AMOLED displays are known for their vivid colors and wide viewing angles and the NX1's displays provides both. Contrary to many other cameras, the NX1’s display has good outdoor visibility.

The display also provides touch capabilities. This allows for the usual benefits like touch AF and shutter, menu navigation and image playback controls. It can also be used to select a subject for the camera to track. One unique features is a carryover from Android. You can 'pull down' from the top of the display to reveal a menu where you adjust screen brightness, turn Wi-Fi or Bluetooth on or off and check on remaining storage and battery life.

The NX1 also features an excellent OLED EVF. It has XGA resolution (1024 x 768 pixels) from 2.36M dots and a magnification of 1.04x. The EVF is great for outdoor use when the display becomes difficult to make out. The EVF also has an eye sensor just below the viewing area for automatically switching between the EVF and main display.

NX1 (4)

Check the Price of the Samsung NX1 28 MP 4K Wireless Smart Camera with 16-50mm Power Zoom Lens on Amazon:

4.4 - 67 Reviews

Overall Performance

With features like 205 phase detect AF points and 15 fps continuous shooting, Samsung has set high expectations for the NX1. It is among the best performers in the APS-C market, although its closest competitor may be the Canon 7D Mark II. The Mark II also has a very fast AF system but can only handle continuous shooting at 10fps.

The NX1 is capable of shooting bursts at a remarkable 15fps. To put that into perspective, 4K video recording is captured on the camera at 24fps in only 8MP individual frames. The fact the NX1 can capture 28MP frames at 15fps gives you an idea of how much processing is going on behind the scenes.

The NX1 isn’t the first camera to include a hybrid AF System, but it is certainly among the best. The 205 phase detect and 209 contrast detect AF points allow for superb tracking and focus. Also, the camera and lens exchange data at a blistering rate of 240fps.

The result is top-tier autofocus performance from the NX1. Furthermore, depth tracking is on point making the NX1 an excellent camera for shooting sports and other motion footage. It’s on par and even outperforms some DSLRs in the same price range when it comes to autofocus performance.

Where the NX1 really takes things to the next level is in its unique ability to combine DSLR-class autofocus with the quality of subject tracking typically associated with on-sensor focus. In practice, the result is spectacular. The NX1 does an exceptional job with both subject and depth tracking.

Pricing

The NX1 is available in two kits. The body-only version retails for a suggested price of $1499.99. A 'premium kit' is also available which includes a 16-50mm F2-2.8 lens, a battery grip, external charger and extra battery. This kit retails for a suggested price of $2799.99.

Check the Price of the Samsung NX1 28 MP 4K Wireless Smart Camera with 16-50mm Power Zoom Lens on Amazon:

4.4 - 67 Reviews

Positives

* 28.2 megapixel APS-C BSI-CMOS sensor
* Hybrid AF system with 205 phase-detect points
* 15 fps burst shooting with continuous autofocus
* 4K video recording
* 4K video over HDMI
* Weather-resistant magnesium alloy body
* 3" tilting Super AMOLED touchscreen display
* Built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

Negatives
  • Autofocus struggles in low light
  • NX mount lacks large catalogue of lenses
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Bottom Line
 

The NX1’s 28MP backside illuminated sensor produces gorgeous stills and the 4K video footage that comes out of the NX1 is comparable to Panasonic’s lauded GH4. Samsung has managed to create a camera that goes toe to toe with other cameras in its class in both the still image and video areas.

However, the NX1 excels in low light image quality thanks to its fantastic 28MP APS-C size CMOS sensor. If you take a significant amount of low light photos and are looking for a well-rounded prosumer camera, the NX1 is about as good as it gets. If you’re primarily looking for a light weight 4K video camera, there are better options at this price point.

If you are looking for an excellent still shooter that’s ultra-portable, the NX1’s little brother, the NX500 is worth checking out. It’s much more compact than the NX1 with only a few tradeoffs.

Check the Price of the Samsung NX1 28 MP 4K Wireless Smart Camera with 16-50mm Power Zoom Lens on Amazon:

4.4 - 67 Reviews

 
7 comments
 
Leave a reply »

 
  • Ben Ballard
    May 18, 2016 at 5:44 am

    Nice camera but has one MASSIVE flaw….it’s marketed as an excellent performer in low light conditions, BUT, the autofocus struggles in low light conditions?

    Sooo, NOT an excellent low light performer as the camera DOESN’T perform (ie focus correctly) in the very area it’s marketed in..

    Reply

  • LarryAS
    May 18, 2016 at 8:40 am

    I have the camera and love it in many ways. However, this review needs to mention the questionable future support by Samsung.

    Reply

  • S Shanke
    May 18, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    Whaaat? First off, why are you reviewing a camera that has been discontinued? Secondly, I own the NX1, and it worse than my Canon t2i was in low light, please show me a photo of the NX1 capturing a spectacular low light shot. I do love this camera, it shoots incredible 4k footage, but it falls apart in low light, and this review is really pushing something that it really isn’t! Peace out.

    Reply

    • Troy
      May 19, 2016 at 10:46 am

      Who cares if the camera is discontinued, it’s still available for sale, brand new, at many different outlets. This site deals with 4K and as far as 4K is concerned this camera was, and is cutting edge with it’s 4K capabilities, nuff said.

      EVERY camera has flaws and limitations, if you’re making money with your equipment you deal with it accordingly. If you don’t know how to then you’re probably an amateur (I’m a hobbyist). All in all, representing 4K this camera still runs at the head of the pack and it takes great photos too. Look at DPreview.com for it’s 87%, Gold Award rating or DigitialImaging.com for it’s outstanding review.

      It’s a great piece of tech, period and yes I own one!

      Reply

  • Henry
    May 18, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    Isn’t this camera now essentially dead? Or is there a revival we need to know about including more lenses coming and global support?

    Reply

  • Adnan
    May 19, 2016 at 5:00 am

    Man,
    What are you talking about?
    Where do you live?
    Samsung is out of camera business.

    Reply

  • Joe
    May 28, 2016 at 6:39 am

    I agree with others, this review after Samsung discontinued it is stupid. I also have the NX1 along with Sony a6300, A7r, RX10 III, Panasonic GH4 and the NX1 is still one of my favorite 4K cameras. It was the top rated APS-C camera on DPR in 2015.

    Reply

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