First Impressions: Samsung NX500

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung NX500 First impressions product photos (3 of 12)ISO 2001-1250 sec at f - 2.8

Over the weekend, we spent some quality time (and way too much time on airplanes) in Hawaii with Samsung testing the first Nx500 cameras. Their Nx300 was an excellent camera in many ways and the Nx500 improves on it in many ways. to begin with, the camera is basically the very lite version of the company’s flagship NX1. With a 28MP APS-C sensor, it can resolve lots of detail.

The camera also shoots 4K video at a 1.7x crop factor where the NX1 takes the full scene and scales it down instead; to each their own though.

The Nx500 very much feels like its older counterpart but in ways also feels classier. You’ll be tempted to use the selfie screen feature more than once, and when paired with a small prime lens it’s bound to make for a great street photography camera. Additionally, it sports two exposure dials for easier and quicker exposure controls in manual mode rather than needing to use the iFunction button on the lenses, and it comes in white, brown or black.

After two days with the camera, it’s very apparent that it is in no way the Editor’s Choice award winning NX1. But it’s still quite the enjoyable little snapper.

Tech Specs

Image Sensor 28MP BSI APS-C
Display 3” Super AMOLED TouchFVGA Tilt / Flip
ISO Auto, 100~25600 (Ext. 51200)
Shutter Speed 1/6000 sec
Image JPEG :
(3:2) : 28M (6480×4320), 13.9M (4560×3040), 7.1M (3264×2176), 3.0M (2112×1408)
(16:9) : 23M (6480×3648), 11.9M (4608×2592), 6.2M (3328×1872), 2.4M (2048×1152)
(1:1) : 18.7M (4320×4320), 9.5M (3088×3088), 4.7M (2160×2160), 2.0M (1408×1408)
RAW :
28.0M (6480×4320)
Video MP4 (Video: HEVC /H.265, Audio: AAC)
4096×2160 (24fps), 3840×2160 (30fps), 1920×1080, 1280×720, 640×480
Frame rate: 60fps, 30fps, 24fps NTSC / 50fps, 25fps, 24fps PAL
Video Output HDMI (NTSC, PAL)
Value- Added
Features
Samsung Auto ShotSMART Mode (Action Freeze, Beauty Face, Fireworks, Landscape, Light Trace, Multi-Exposure, Night, Panorama, Rich Tones, Silhouette, Sunset, Waterfall)UHD Time-lapse Video
Attachable Flash (Guide Number 8 at ISO100)
Connectivity  Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n·    Quick Transfer, Email, Auto Backup, Remote Viewfinder Pro, Mobile Link, Photo Beam, Bluetooth GPS Tagging, Auto Time Setting, TV Link
Bluetooth
NFC
Storage SD,SDHC,SDXC,UHS-I
Battery 1130mAh
Dimension
(WxHxD)
119.5 x 63.6 x 42.5mm (without projection)
Weight 287g (without battery and memory card)

Ergonomic

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung NX500 First impressions product photos (7 of 12)ISO 2001-1250 sec at f - 4.0

The Samsung NX500 overall sports a beautiful body with a leatherette suit–and it can don either black, brown or white. The front of the camera is nearly devoid of controls with the exception of the lens release. While it looks nice, I really wish that they didn’t put the little NX logo on the bottom of the grip. It makes me want to cover it up with gaffers tape.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung NX500 First impressions product photos (8 of 12)ISO 2001-1000 sec at f - 4.0

Move to the top of the camera and you’ll see more controls. You’ve got the hot shoe, mobile connect button, one exposure dial, the mode dial, shutter release, on/off switch and the AEL button. Otherwise, it’s very smooth–almost like a Leica rangefinder.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung NX500 First impressions product photos (5 of 12)ISO 2001-1250 sec at f - 4.0

The back of the camera is where more controls are placed. You’ll find the video recording button, screen, ISO button, custom function, directional controls, menu, playback, trash and more here. To be fair, you’ll be staring at the back of the screen quite a bit considering that there is no viewfinder.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung NX500 First impressions product photos (1 of 12)ISO 2001-640 sec at f - 4.5

When you’re ready for your close up, you can flip the screen up for a selfie. Admittedly, I did this a few too many times.

Build Quality

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung NX500 First impressions product photos (12 of 12)ISO 2001-6400 sec at f - 2.0

The Nx500 in many ways feels a lot like the older Nx300, and that isn’t a bad thing. The grip is nice to hold, though you’ll want a nice strap with the camera. Holding it in place for selfies is very ergonomically sound and using the camera from the hip is also a pleasing experience.

For the first time in the site’s history, we never thought that we’d ever type a sentence like that.

It only seemed to get a bit too hairy for us when using larger lenses like the company’s 300mm f2.8 lens. Of course, there is no good reason why we need to explain ourselves in this case.

Ease of Use

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung NX500 First impressions product photos (9 of 12)ISO 2001-1000 sec at f - 5.6

Samsung’s menu system and overall ease of use is an absolutely incredible breath of fresh air. The menus are very intuitive, and truthfully very simple to wrap your head around within a couple hours of use. The only gotcha situation you’ll encounter has to do with button placement. If you’re coming from another camera system, you’re used to the custom function buttons being on top, but in this case you’ll find the AEL button there.

Weird, right? Everyone else for years has put it on the back.

Samsung’s Nx500 was also a bit laggy when it came to transferring images. The rep quoted us to a couple of seconds when importing to your phone, but even with our Nexus 5, a full 7MB image took maybe around 30 seconds.

Indeed, we’ve seen coconuts husked faster than this.

Autofocus

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung NX500 First impressions product photos (6 of 12)ISO 2001-1250 sec at f - 4.0

We used the Samsung 300m f2.8, 16-50mm f2-2.8, 50-150mm f2.8, and the 16mm f2.4. All of the lenses were very quick to focus with the exception of the latter. Such a shame too as it’s my personal favorite of all of Samsung’s lenses because of how amazing it is for street photography.

To be fair, Samsung’s reps told us that because our cameras are so early in the production, there will be a firmware update on the way to make the autofocus experience more seamless with other lenses.

I really, really hope so.

Image Quality

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At the moment, we’re only putting JPEGs on here because most readers of this site use Adobe Lightroom–and it is the standard for our tests. Lightroom currently doesn’t support the Nx500, but this camera’s JPEGs are quite nice. They’re nothing like Sony, Canon, Olympus, Nikon, Fujifilm or anyone else. Indeed, they’re their own thing and in some ways reminds me of Kodak Ektar.

If you were ever a fan of that film, then you’ll be really happy with this.

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First Impressions

We’ve only spent a short amount of time with the camera so far, but we’re quite impressed with what it can do. Samsung’s main strength for many years was with its lenses, and with the NX1 it started to become its cameras. From there, it only makes sense that they’re going to build something more comprehensive with branches for various markets. And if you’re looking for an alternative to everyone else’s cameras, then Samsung should be catching your eye.

So far though, it’s going to be quite tough for this camera to edge out the competition from Sony, Fujifilm, Olympus and Panasonic. And we’re not sure that the megapixels alone will be able to do it.