NX1 Review – First Impressions of the Samsung #NX1

Dec 27, 2014Photography for Parents0 comments

Happy holidays, everyone! As 2014 draws to a close, many of us are getting our hands on some new electronic gadgets. From FitBits to 4k TV’s, the market is full of must-haves. I admit I was very fortunate as I was able to get my hands on one of the newest Samsung NX series cameras – the NX1. Even though I’m part of Samsung’s #ImageLogger program, I still feel obligated to give my honest first impressions after shooting with my NX1 for approximately a month now. No camera is perfect, right?

Does Size Matter?

Okay, so the first thing I want to touch upon is the size (or lack thereof ) of the NX1. The NX1 is only slightly larger than my NX30, measuring 138.5mm W, 65.8mm D & 102.3mm H and weighing in at a slim 550g, just 175g more than the NX30. Let’s be honest, small SLR’s have somewhat of a stigma against them. If you see a pro lugging around a Canon EOS-1D X (1,530g & $6,800) or a Nikon D4S (1,337g & $6,500), they look “super professional”, right? If you come to a shoot with the NX1, weighing 1/3 that of comparable DSLR’s, you run the risk of your professionalism being called into question. To say it another way…

Do small SLR’s still take great photos?

The obvious answer to this question is YES, of course they do! The size of the NX1 shouldn’t be held against it. In fact, if you’re a photographer, don’t you WANT a smaller camera to carry around? I mean, the ideal situation would be a point-and-shoot form factor camera providing us with SLR-quality images, right?

I think there are still some misconceptions on the size-quality paradigm, but hopefully people are able to overcome this misconception when they see the results the NX1 is capable of producing.

Fit, Finish & Build Quality

The NX1 represents my first high-end SLR camera. I’ve owned a few other pro-sumer Canon DSLR’s and the Samsung NX300 and NX30. So let’s review some of the basic specs of this camera:

  • 28MP APS-C CMOS sensor
  • 4k UHD Video with HEVC(H.265) CODEC
  • Max. 15FPS Continuous Shooting
  • Fast & Accurate NX AF System III
  • DRIMe V Image Processor
  • OLED EVF & Super AMOLED Display
  • Wi-Fi & Bluetooth
  • Magnesium Alloy Structure

The magnesium alloy body feels light but sturdy. A departure from the plastic-ey feel of many of the other pro-sumer cameras available, including the two Canons I currently own. The shutter sounds like butter. I’m not kidding, it actually sounds what I would describe as “buttery” when you take a shot. It’s a nice, subtle sound that is distinctive yet not distracting. The 3″ Super AMOLED display is crisp and just the right size. I miss the ability to swivel the display around to protect it from scratching. I may pick up a screen protector, but I still prefer the swivel display like on the NX30.

You can tell the engineers and designers at Samsung went to great lengths to design the locations of the controls. My new NX1 inspired me to learn more about F-stops, apertures, ISO settings and changing them all on the fly to have the optimal settings for the lighting conditions and shot. The buttons and dials make it very easy to access the settings you need, but the plethora of options on high-end cameras like this can be a bit intimidating for those “just looking to shoot”.

The NX1 is definitely a step up from the typical pro-sumer camera. If you just want to take pictures, I’d opt for the NX30 or NX300 instead.

Lenses, Photo Quality & Firmware Updates

Samsung released the NX1 in the North American market the last week of November and immediately released a body firmware update and a few firmware updates for its NX lenses as well. The most current body firmware version as of this posting is 1.10 and I strongly recommend updating lens firmware versions for the best performance possible.

Initially, a few of the lenses I use with my NX cameras had some auto-focus issues – namely the 85mm. The firmware updates greatly improved auto-focus performance, but I still find a few of the lenses “hunting” for a focal point at times, especially in lower light conditions. My favorite lens so far is my 30mm, but I haven’t had the opportunity to shoot with either of the “S” lenses available – 15-50mm F2-F2.8 and the 50-150mm F2.8.

Final Thoughts on the NX1

Overall, I really like the NX1 from Samsung. I think it can easily go toe-to-toe with some of the high-end competition. The $1,500 USD cost of the body is a bit more than most would typically expect for a pro-sumer SLR, but the NX1 really starts to get into the next tier of cameras and could easily be found in the hands of professionals as their primary camera. If you’re a pro or aspiring pro, just be sure not to get hung up on the compact size of the camera.

What do you think?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Please leave a comment below or feel free to contact me with your thoughts.

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