Photography News issue 20

Camera test

29

LongexposureNR The NX500 has the option of long exposure noise reduction for which the camera makes a dark frame exposure. This effectively doubles the actual exposure time. These test images were shot on a NX 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 at 30secs and f/16 at ISO 100. The shot without NR was very clean and noise- free in the first instance so the NR shot only shows a marginal benefit. With exposures running into several minutes the benefit will probably be much more apparent.

ISOcomparison The NX500 has an impressive ISO range from ISO 100 to 25,600, with the option of expansion to 51,200. These twilight shots were taken with the supplied 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 power zoom at 29mm and f/8. The base exposure at ISO 100 was 3secs. Digital noise performance is sound and the images up to ISO 800 are very clean and fine detail is crisply defined. At ISO 800 and beyond noise starts producing a mottled pattern in even-toned areas and this gets more pronounced as speed increases. Shooting in JPEG, performance is good up to ISO 1600 – in Raw you can go to ISO 2500 for comparable image quality. I think ISO 3200 is about the limit for a balance of acceptable image quality and a useable speed for poor light shooting but even here detail lacks the definition of images shot at lower settings. At ISO 6400 and upwards fine detail is much more affected by noise. Intricate detail looks mushy and there is noticeable mottling in areas of even tone. If shooting critically, ISO 6400 is just about the limit and higher speeds are best avoided unless you absolutely have no alternative. By the time you get to the highest native ISO setting of 25,600 noise makes images appear almost painterly and colourful noise is clearly evident.

FULL-FRAME IMAGE

FULL-FRAME IMAGE

ISO 100

ISO 400

ISO 800

ISO 1600

ISO 3200

ISO 6400

ISO 12800

ISO 25600

ISO 51200

NONR

WITHNR

High ISO noise reduction

FULL-FRAME IMAGE

The verdict

The Samsung NX500 is an attractively priced, highly capable CSC. Its impressive sensor delivers detail-packed enlargements and it has competent exposure and autofocus systems. It offers formidable competition to the likes of the Sony A6000, Panasonic Lumix GX7 and Olympus OM-D E-M10. It appeals on two levels. One, as a quality CSC attracting discerning but budget-conscious photographers wanting a high level of performance. And two, it could tempt prospective NX system buyers who are currently committed to another brand but want to sample what Samsung has to offer without breaking the bank. Either way, the NX500 could be a very handy backup as well as being a highly capable camera in its own right. The latter point is important because the NX500 makes for a fine take-anywhere camera with features to develop your photography.

The NX500 has a high ISO noise reduction mode that works with JPEGs and has three options, low, normal and high. Using noise reduction improves JPEGs shot at high ISO settings and even the lowest setting lessens the grainy, noise effect albeit at the cost of detail. The choice, which applies to all high ISO settings, is between the low and normal settings really, because the high option smudges fine detail too much. Given the choice, go low – or shoot Raw and lessen noise during processing.

ISO 6400

NONR

LOWNR

NORMAL NR

HIGHNR

SAMSUNG NX500

21/25

FEATURES

ISO 12,800

Has much to offer but no EVF is a minus PERFORMANCE

23/25

Fine image quality HANDLING

22/25

Good but buttons are small VALUE FOR MONEY

25/25

NONR

LOWNR

NORMAL NR

HIGHNR

28 megapixels at this price is terrific

ISO 25,600

OVERALL

91/100

Sub-£600 for a CSC with this spec is excellent value PROS Compact, lightweight, sensor, AF system in good light, flexible monitor CONS No EVF, no body-only option at the moment

NONR

LOWNR

NORMAL NR

HIGHNR

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Issue 20 | Photography News

www.photographynews.co.uk

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