Photography News issue 20

28

Camera test

FULL TEST

SamsungNX500 Competitively priced at £599, the NX500 has the highest resolution in its class with an impressive 28 megapixels, but that’s not all it has to offer

SPECS

PRICE £599 with 16-50mm power zoom CONTACT samsung.com SENSOR 28.2 megapixels, CMOS, 6480x4320 pixels SENSOR FORMAT APS-C 23.5x15.7mm, 1.5x crop factor ISORANGE 100-25,600, expandable to 51,200, auto SHUTTER 30secs-1/6000sec, B (limited to 8mins), flash sync 1/200sec DRIVEMODES Single, continuous at 9fps METERING SYSTEM Multi-zone (221 segments), centre- weighted, spot EXPOSUREMODES PASM, auto, custom COMPENSATION 5EV in 0.3EV steps MONITOR 3in articulating, touchscreen Super AMOLED, 1036k dots FOCUSING Hybrid AF with active, single, continuous and manual focusing FOCUSING POINTS 205 phase-detect, 153 cross-type, 209 contrast-detect VIDEO 4096x2160 (24fps), in 4K angle of view is narrowed by 1.68x CONNECTIVITY USB 2.0, HDMI, wireless, Bluetooth STORAGEMEDIA

Words by Will Cheung

The Samsung NX500 comes out hot on the heels of the flagship NX1 launched late year and, while it’s a £599 camera and lens outfit, it shares many highlights with its £1300 body-only bigger brother. It’s definitely worth dwelling on the key points of difference as well as the similarities. The two highlights in terms of feature sharing are the APS-C BSI sensor and the AF system. This means the NX500 has an amazing 28.2-megapixel resolution, producing images packed with exquisite fine detail especially at the lower ISO speeds. The NX500’s AF system features 205 phase- detect sensors with 153 cross-type that cover over 90% of the image area so it’s very flexible if you like placing subjects at the extremes of the frame. AF sensitivity and responsiveness, as with the NX1, are impressively fast and accurate in good conditions but fall off as light levels drop. The built-in AF lamp comes into its own when it’s darker, but it’s not something to use if you are trying to steal some candid shots down the pub. Another feature common to both cameras is 4K video shooting. However, the NX500 crops 4K footage by a factor of 1.68x. Pick up the two cameras and one difference is immediately apparent. The NX500 is much lighter – the body weighs in at 292g against the 550g of the NX1. It’s not as rugged and lacks the environment seals of the NX1. There’s no EVF either – and no option to fit one. As we are all getting used to monitors, this might not be an issue but it will inevitably deter people who prefer shooting with the camera up to the eye. It’s a good thing, though, that the NX500’s monitor does provide a bright image. The monitor itself folds up to face forwards – handy for selfie and low-level shooting too. Much has been made of the NX1’s ability to blitz through full-size files at 15fps, the fastest continuous shooting speed currently on offer. The NX500’s not so fast but still clocks a more than respectable 9fps (up to a maximum of ISO 6400), although its smaller buffer means fewer frames are available before buffering. I got five Raws before buffering and 31 super fine JPEGs using a Samsung PRO SD card with about 25 seconds needed for the buffer to completely clear. Like the NX1, shooting Raws at its maximum shooting speeds means files are automatically changed from 14-bit to 12-bit. Raws can also be shot in normal or lossless compression; the latter saves card space but is slightly slower.

my eye (it’s an instinctive action) and I did miss an EVF. But the monitor is good and I am happy with its touch operation. With practice, you instinctively check where the AF point is in case it has been inadvertently banished to a far-flung corner and the feature is handy for both candid shooting and for scenics with the camera on the tripod. During tripod use, being able to focus on one part of the scene and expose for another is a great feature and saves shifting the camera. I found the NX500’s exposure performance to be very consistent and the multi-zone system can be relied upon to deliver spot-on results in most cases. The same can be said for the AF system in good light, however, in poor light there is some hunting and while focusing is achieved, it takes a little longer to get there. Overall, performance and handling rate pretty highly and are impressive for a CSC at this price.

There is also a Burst mode. Here you can capture 30 frames in one second with one push of the shutter button but resolution is limited to seven megapixels. Having spent a couple of months using the Samsung NX1, I found moving onto the NX500 really comfortable because I was familiar with the menu structure and key points of handling. Not everyone will have that advantage, but there is absolutely no reason why newcomers to the NX500 will struggle. Control layout and the menu are easy to navigate and I found the NX500 overall a pleasure to use. The fact that it’s much lighter and smaller is a significant contributing factor in this. For example, I could slip the NX500 with the power zoom into a pocket and carry it while out cycling without feeling the strain. And having 28 megapixels at my disposal meant I wasn’t compromising on ultimate image quality. Design-wise, I think Samsung could have made the NX500 more NX1-like in terms of body shape (even excepting the lack of an EVF) and that could have given the NX family more of a filial identity. Perhaps the NX50 (or whatever it will be called) will be more closely related in terms of body form but as it is, the NX500 is very different from the NX1. Clearly it is not a fault of the NX500 but I did find myself on occasion lifting the camera up to

SD, SDHC, SDXC DIMENSIONS 119.5x63.6x42.5mm WEIGHT 292g body only

RIGHT The supplied 16-50mm zoom has a decent minimum focusing distance enabling close-ups like this.

Control layout and themenu are easy to navigate and I found the NX500overall a pleasure to use. The fact that it’smuch lighter and smaller than theNX1 is a significant contributing factor in this

Photography News | Issue 20

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