Amazon Review Of The Samsung NX300
I bought this camera 2 weeks ago at the Samsung flagship store at Westfield shopping centre in Stratford, East London, for £499 including the 20-50mm kit lens. It was love at first sight... while fumbling about with one of the abused and worn display cameras at a temporary promotion stand inside the shopping centre the lovely assistant told me about the NX300 which I hadn't heard of before. Owning the Galaxy Camera for some months I was eager to pick up a camera which indeed delivers good quality pictures and a better usability (instead of the overladen and sluggish Android UI, as much as I love Android). I went over to the store, had a bit of a hands-on and went home, only to spend the rest of the evening googling for the NX300 and comparing it to other cameras. It seemed to be top-notch, especially as it comes with all the bells and whistles of a DSLR (except an optical or digital viewfinder, of course) but in a much smaller package.
As the price was £599 "everywhere" I went back to the Samsung store the next day, asked them to confirm the £499 price tag (which they did) and bought it right away. To be honest: I wasn't fully aware of the two different short tele kit lenses (18-55 and 20-50mm) and the difference between them.
At home I unpacked everything, was happy about the general quality feel of the camera but less happy about the cheap feel of the lens (more about that later). I inserted a used 8GB Micro SD and tried to take the first pictures: the only thing that happened was a total software crash everytime, I couldn't even turn the camera off! It took me another 2 frustrating hours to find the reason: the storage card was damaged! After inserting another one (32GB Sandisk class 10) everything worked fine.
The next day I went on a longer photo tour and was happy with the easy UI (touchscreen and hard-buttons), the menus are well thought through and fully logical.
On my walk I noticed:
- the 20-50mm kit lens works much better than it looks, it can be retracted for transport which makes it rather compact. It's also very light (at least the body is fully made of plastic, including the lens mount). The AF motor can be noisy and slow when it tries to lock on something but can't. Tapping a suitable motive edge on the touchscreen almost always helps the AF to lock (which is otherwise not always entirely satisfactory). Manual focus works brilliant with the centre of the motive being magnified several times in order to be able to precisely adjust sharpness as soon as the focus ring is being turned. Zoom and focus rings only require very little force. The lens lacks an image stabiliser (which the more expensive, heavier and bigger 18-55 has) but I didn't really miss it thanks to its short maximum zoom. According to a thorough physical test of the lens ([...]) the 20-50 performs even better than the 18-55.
- it's better to rely on the handy EV scale on the display rather than on the optical impression from the screen: about 50% of my photos were overexposed. Using the EV scale and keeping the red bar at or close to the +/-0EV mark produced perfect exposure.
- while ISO100 up to ISO800 are absolutely fine with next to no noise (only detectable when deeply zooming into the picture), the high settings of 12800 and 25600 are more or less useless and produce pictures of the quality taken with an average smartphone at low light. But that's not a fault of the camera, more a system-related issue which is valid for more or less all cameras and surely not helped by the high resolution of the APS-C chip.
As 50mm is not a brilliant zoom length I immediately ordered the 50-200 lens for £139 (ebay, new, 2nd generation). It's much heavier than the camera and also rather bulky. Zoom action is not very smooth and needs some force, there's apparently a lot of friction going on in the zoom apparatus. The lens has an AF/MF toggle switch (for the 20-50mm lens you need to switch the mode via software which is only two clicks) and just like all the other NX mount lenses an iFn button which opens a menu in which some settings can be selected by twisting the focus ring. The 50-200 zoom lens is also equipped with an image stabiliser, which can be turned on or off via menu settings (again not more than 2 or 3 clicks). The 18-200 lens only seems to be 2nd choice with its additional length, rotating filter mount and heavy distortion ([...])
Taking my Galaxy Camera and my 8 years old Sony DSC-F828 bridge camera for comparison I can only say the NX300 is a brilliant camera. White Balance (a real issue on the Galaxy Camera) works perfectly and can be further manipulated via pre-sets for e.g. tungsten and fluorescent (hi and low/warm and cold) lighting, sun, clouds and two manual settings where you can either select the colour temperature (Kelvin) or taking a "picture" of a white underground where the camera automatically sets the appropriate WB.
Single beam autofocus works in maybe 8 or 9 out of 10 cases, but it can be helped by pointing the focus area to a suitable edge through tapping the touchscreen. Multiple beam AF works better but I don't use it much as I mostly like to focus on special details.
Picture quality is top notch, nothing to argue about, really nothing.
When I see my friend sorting all the buttons spread over the entire body of his Nikon D7000 I'm very happy with the menu system and general usability of my NX300.
Last but not least some words about the Wi-Fi functionality.
If you own an Android smartphone or tablet you can install the Samsung Mobile Link app and easily transfer pics between the camera and your Android device for example for quickly sharing a photo on Instagram or wherever. You can also transfer pictures from the camera to Facebook, Picasa and SkyDrive, unfortunately not to Drop box though. And sure enough you can hook it up to your PC via Micro USB cable or simply throw the full-size SD card into a card reader.
The Samsung Remote Viewfinder App (Android) allows a very basic remote control for the camera via your Android device with options to save the picture either on the camera or phone or both.