Review: Samsung Galaxy NX

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung Galaxy NX product photos (3 of 8)ISO 4001-50 sec at f - 2.8

The flagship Samsung NX series camera is a fusion of sorts–and quite an interesting fusion at that. If somehow or another, machines came to life and started a small country of some sort, there would need to be population growth. In order to grow the population, there would need to obviously be intermixing of folks. In this case, a phone and a camera from the same company (or country) would delight in each other’s presence and an interesting child would be conceived. That child (in this case the Samsung Galaxy NX) would be from the womb of the Samsung NX20 and the loins of the Samsung Galaxy S4.

The two parents would do all that they could to provide for this child. They would provide a lens system and try to give them only the best. They would try to ensure that their child had social skills, and they’d even put an emphasis on looking good.

But no matter how hard these parents tried, the child wouldn’t be perfect. And that’s alright: no one is perfect. But some children  stand out just a bit more than others.

Pros and Cons

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung Galaxy NX product photos (2 of 8)ISO 4001-50 sec at f - 2.8

Pros

– Connectivity and ease of use when you’ve got a data plan

– Very nice feeling grip

– Big screen that is beautiful to look at

– Very nice viewfinder

– Providing you’ve got connectivity, the images you shoot can be synced to the cloud with ease

– Probably the perfect camera for Instagram

Cons

– Way too much screen; it’s almost like this child has a bit too much going on in the back. We also wish that the screen tilted up and down.

– More dials would have been extremely appreciated

– We found there to be a bit too much of a delay when going from the screen to the viewfinder

– In order to change most settings, you’ll need to use the touch screen. Though changing exposure can be done with the dial and Samsung’s i-function buttons on the lens

– Only Micro SD cards: so RAW write speed isn’t the fastest

– No real simple way to format the memory card

– Very, very expensive

– This idea would have been better done with the NX300; in fact, we would have awarded this camera an Editor’s Choice rating then for its pure innovation.

Gear Used

We reviewed the Samsung Galaxy NX with the 18-55mm kit lens, 85mm f1.4, PocketWizard Plus III transmitters and the LumoPro LP-180 flash.

Tech Specs

Specs taken from the B&H Photo listing

  • Android 4.2 Jelly Bean Operating System
  • 20.3MP APS-C CMOS Sensor
  • DRIMe IV Image Signal Processor
  • Wi-Fi and 3G/4G LTE Mobile Connectivity
  • 4.8″ HD 921k-Dot LCD Touchscreen Monitor
  • SVGA 0.46″ Electronic Viewfinder
  • Full HD 1080p Video Recording at 30 fps
  • Advanced Hybrid Autofocus System
  • Continuous Shooting Rate Up to 8.6 fps
  • Samsung NX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS Lens

Ergonomics

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung Galaxy NX product photos (4 of 8)ISO 4001-50 sec at f - 2.8

Samsung’s Galaxy NX is a camera that has all the looks of a serious camera from the front. But in many ways, it also still looks like a giant mock-up. The front of the camera is very devoid of buttons with the exception of the lens release.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung Galaxy NX product photos (5 of 8)ISO 4001-50 sec at f - 2.8

In fact, the camera itself is very devoid of buttons. On top, you’ll find the shutter button, video record button, control dial, on/off switch, and pop-up flash button. Here you can also find a hot shoe if you choose to use one.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung Galaxy NX product photos (6 of 8)ISO 4001-50 sec at f - 2.8

The back of the camera is largely just a giant screen and a viewfinder. This is where you’ll be spending most of your time trying to work with the camera.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung Galaxy NX product photos (7 of 8)ISO 4001-50 sec at f - 2.8

The side of the Galaxy NX has an HDMI port, an audio out port, and a USB port. That’s really all that there is in terms of connectivity and for the typical consumer, this is mostly all that you’ll need.

If you want to access the Micro SD card and SIM card, you’ll need to go into the bottom of the camera to the battery compartment.

Build Quality

Make no mistake, the Galaxy NX feels absolutely great in the hand. The feeling puts Canon Rebels and Nikon D5000 and below series cameras to shame. Indeed, it should for the price point. But it has no weather sealing or anything of the sort–in fact, Samsung has no weather-sealed cameras in their NX lineup to date.

When you hold the camera though, there is a feeling of instinctively pressing buttons on the side. Instead, you’ll either play with an Android homescreen or an interactive dial on the screen.

Like all huge screen products though, if you drop this camera you may end up with a giant crack in the screen the same way that you might with your phone’s screen. Replacing this screen might also be significantly tougher to do than with a phone.

Ease of Use

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung Galaxy NX ease of use image (1 of 1)ISO 4001-50 sec at f - 2.8

The camera’s ease of use isn’t the most glowing feature of the camera. To be clear, we mean this statement when it comes to trying to use it like a professional: in manual mode. We would have much preferred two dials: one for shutter speed control while the other sets our aperture and then used the i-function for the ISO control. Instead, you’ll need to either use the i-function button or click in the dial to move from one setting to the other.

In practice, this is very frustrating.

Ideally, this should be the greatest camera in the world for Instagram, right?

Wrong. The camera will essentially try to focus on whatever is in the center of the image all the time. Then if you try to make it focus manually, it won’t allow you to. Granted, this is probably more of a problem with the app itself and not the camera; but this app could have been the greatest compliment to the camera.

So instead, you’ll need to shoot the images as you normally would and then upload them to Instagram later on. That isn’t so bad, but full integration would have been absolutely mind blowing.

But due to the fact that the camera runs on the Android operating system, there are loads of other cool applications that can be used. For example, by using “a real camera” you can seamlessly go into a workflow process with your choice of apps like VSCO Cam, Snapseed, Photoshop Touch and others. The camera truly provides a very mobile workflow without the need to do much else. But this method of working is best suited for the photojournalist, blogger, street fashion shooter, and other people that rely very heavily on being socially connected. The fact that you can do this on a camera is very clutch.

We wouldn’t recommend this for a wedding or sports photographer though as they shoot lots of images. Additionally, we also really recommend that you just work with JPEGs. Though the RAW files are very good, shooting in RAW tends to slow down the camera’s performance.

In this way though, the Galaxy NX should be thought of and used in a completely different way than one would do with other cameras. If you’re one of those people on Instagram that make serious bank from advertisers, this may be the camera for you. Same with everyone with Tumblr skills beyond those of mere mortals.

And when I really, really think about it: this is totally a camera for hipsters and those that hate computers. The high emphasis on avoiding the computer and working with apps like Instagram, VSCO and others will greatly appeal to them if they can afford the price tag and the monthly data plans. Further, if they can make it profitable for them, then they’ll really have something special.

There’s more than that though: want to do a timelapse? Android has great apps for this.

Autofocus

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung Galaxy NX review images (1 of 11)ISO 4001-40 sec at f - 3.5

When working with both the 18-55mm kit lens and the 85mm f1.4, we found the Galaxy NX to not be the fastest camera in terms of focusing. Like the NX300 before it, it lags behind Micro Four Thirds and Sony’s mirrorless Alpha offerings. It’s still faster than what Fujifilm offers in most cases; though we found the X Pro 1 and Fujifilm’s newest lenses to sometimes even outperform the autofocus on the Galaxy NX.

To be clear, this has to do with both center focus point performance, touch screen performance, and automatic scene focus point selection.

Metering

According to the rules of Sunny 16, the Samsung Galaxy NX meters perfectly. Unlike the NX300, we found the sensor in the Galaxy NX to capture lots of detail in both the shadows and the highlights and the RAW file performance is more comparable to those of other cameras from other companies.

Image Quality

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung Galaxy NX extra images (1 of 9)ISO 2001-60 sec at f - 3.5

At the moment of publishing this review, we haven’t had a lot of opportunities to put the 85mm f1.4 through its true paces. With that said though, we know what some of Samsung’s lenses are capable of. We can say with great certainty that using the kit lens is doing a great injustice to this camera. We reviewed the 16mm f2.4 and fell in absolute love with that lens. In fact, we really wish that we had it available during the review. The kit lens doesn’t offer the sharpest image quality and doesn’t do the sensor very much justice. The 85mm is much better, but we always feel that portrait lenses need to be used with flashes and add specular highlights for one to really see how well they can shine.

Raw File Versatility

Original photo

Original photo

When it comes to the RAW file versatility of the camera, not only were we able to manipulate the colors easily, but we were also able to pull lots from both the highlights and shadows alike. We weren’t able to do this with previous Samsung sensors so perhaps an update of some sort was done with the one in the Galaxy NX.

Edited

Edited

We pushed the shadows three stops and pulled the highlights two stops to get this image. In previous Samsung cameras, we were only able to get around a stop out of the highlights.

We pushed the shadows three stops and pulled the highlights two stops to get this image. In previous Samsung cameras, we were only able to get around a stop out of the highlights.

High ISO Performance

ISO 6400

ISO 6400

The high ISO performance of the Galaxy NX isn’t something that we’d do cartwheels for, but is isn’t horrible either. Instead, it’s around what we expect from many companies at this point. If we had to put it on a scale, the high ISO performance is better than Micro Four Thirds offerings by a hair, but can’t top the likes of Fujifilm and Sony. These two companies currently trump anyone in the APS-C category in our eyes.

Extra Image Samples

AS ALWAYS, THE EXIF DATA IS IN THE FILE NAME

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung Galaxy NX review images (11 of 11)ISO 32001-40 sec at f - 3.5

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung Galaxy NX review images (10 of 11)ISO 32001-25 sec at f - 3.5

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung Galaxy NX review images (9 of 11)ISO 32001-15 sec at f - 3.5

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung Galaxy NX review images (7 of 11)ISO 1001-80 sec at f - 3.5

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung Galaxy NX review images (6 of 11)ISO 1001-160 sec at f - 3.5

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung Galaxy NX review images (5 of 11)ISO 1001-160 sec at f - 3.5

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung Galaxy NX review images (4 of 11)ISO 16001-40 sec at f - 3.5

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung Galaxy NX review images (3 of 11)ISO 1001-80 sec at f - 3.5

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung Galaxy NX review images (2 of 11)ISO 8001-40 sec at f - 3.5

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung Galaxy NX high iso (6 of 6)ISO 64001-6 sec at f - 3.5

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung Galaxy NX high iso (1 of 6)ISO 64001-30 sec at f - 3.5

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung Galaxy NX extra images (9 of 9)ISO 8001-50 sec at f - 3.5

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung Galaxy NX extra images (8 of 9)ISO 8001-80 sec at f - 3.5

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung Galaxy NX extra images (7 of 9)ISO 8001-500 sec at f - 3.5

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung Galaxy NX extra images (6 of 9)ISO 8001-320 sec at f - 3.5

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung Galaxy NX extra images (5 of 9)ISO 8001-200 sec at f - 3.5

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung Galaxy NX extra images (3 of 9)ISO 8001-1000 sec at f - 3.5

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung Galaxy NX extra images (2 of 9)ISO 8001-320 sec at f - 5.6

Conclusions

When we first handled the Galaxy NX, we had high hopes for it. Sure, it can do a lot of things, but it can’t do any of them perfectly and there are quirks. Part of this has to do with the ergonomics. The shooting experience needed to be made a tad more conservative, though we highly value the ability to use so many apps with our photography as well as use interchangeable lenses.

In the end though, we believe that the Galaxy NX is a very niche product and that the company should have done this with their NX300 instead.

Recommended Items

Samsung 16mm f2.4: We really, really love this lens. It’s great for anything and everything and is very compact at that. We think that many folks will hold the Galaxy NX almost like a point and shoot, and so ergonomically this lens would work well with the Galaxy NX.

MeFOTO DayTrip: With the whole mobile mentality, we recommend a very mobile oriented tripod. MeFOTO has you covered.

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