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Samsung NX300 review

Sabyasachi Biswas July 31 | Updated on August 01, 2013

Samsung NX300 review

Samsung NX300 review

Samsung NX300 review

Samsung NX300 review: The AF system is quite fast and efficient, but the metering system tends to underexpose many indoor shots, especially macros.

Samsung NX300 review: Colour reproduction is decent, but some outdoor shots had blues and greens a bit bleached out.

Samsung NX300 review

This new compact system camera from Samsung manages to surprise us in the least expected ways!

Samsung has always faced tough competition from established camera manufacturers such as Sony, Canon, Nikon, Olympus and Fujifilm, especially in the compact system camera (CSC) category. And that I think is for a very simple reason – consumers would associate Samsung with smartphones, tablets and home appliances more than they would with cameras. In fact, if any new camera buyer was to make a list of cameras to check out, a Samsung product would be lucky to appear even at the bottom of the list.

But that’s not to say that Samsung’s imaging products are bad. I’ve used a few of their point-and-shoots, and I’ve been quite impressed with the image quality on those. Even the old NX1000 showed decent image quality, along with its sharing capabilities. But now, I’ve been playing around with the new NX300, and I think it has surpassed its predecessor and some of its competitors in image quality and features.

Design and build

I think it’s safe for me to go ahead and declare that the NX300 is an absolutely beautiful camera. It’s got looks that take cues from both vintage and modern styling – faux leather cladding and aluminium top and bottom plates give that retro look, and high-quality plastic panel and buttons on the back with an AMOLED touchscreen give the new-age touches. This CSC has also got its curves right – the right-hand grip stock is built very ergonomically and offers a solid, confident grip. That’s something I haven’t seen on even Sony’s NEX series.

That said the button placement on the back panel is too tight. You’re faced with cramped buttons, and changing settings on the move may generate exasperation. Thankfully, a command dial on top next to the shutter release button makes up for some of that. Since there’s no internal flash, the external flash comes bundled with the box. This is a fairly easy-to-use device. You don’t have to go into the settings to switch the flash gun on; all you need to do is flip the flash up or down to arm or disarm it.

It’s not one of the lightest cameras, but for a good reason. I found the lens mount, an all metal construction, to be one of the best in its class. If the quality of construction is good, and the body is feature laden, I really don’t mind the bulk.

Tech and performance

Armed with a 20.3 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, the NX300 takes very colourful photographs. I found the colour reproduction to be very accurate with just the tiniest amount of bleaching of blues and greens (Auto mode, daylight conditions). The metering system also does a good job in fixing the right exposure levels, although it does tend to underexpose macros a bit.

The NX300’s predecessors used only a contrast AF system and underperformed when compared to the competitors, as I saw for myself on a friend’s NX1000 some time ago. The NX300, however, has a new hybrid AF system that changes the story altogether. This contrast AF and phase detection AF combination has a total of 105 points for phase detection AF and 247 points for contrast AF selection. That translates into lightning fast and accurate AF locking. And even if you want your own focusing preference, you can always use the touchscreen AF selector or use the manual focus ring on the lens if needed.

The noise levels, however, are not so acceptable. Up to ISO 1600, you won’t be bothered by the grains unless you blow up the image to 100 per cent. But after ISO 3200, noise levels (on the JPEG and RAW images alike) ended to render quite a few images useless.

That aside, there are a few good creative filters and preset modes that make this camera a very versatile one. You can take it along with you on a holiday, and snap up picturesque landscapes, or shoot monuments, or take crisp portraits in front of vivid backdrops. Features like HDR and landscape panorama are also present on the camera. Moreover, the NFC and Wi-Fi sharing functions are very easy to use (and a lot easier if you have a Samsung Android device).

We say

If a CSC’s job is to provide near or on-par DSLR image quality, with ‘fun’ compact camera features and a little more portability, then the NX300 is definitely doing a good job out of it. It has fast AF, a good burst mode for taking those candid action shots and yes, you can instantly upload it online via a smartphone or tablet.

But by now Samsung should definitely have expanded its lens portfolio, and that might be the only let down. And that’s why a Canon EOS M would cost you less and give more flexibility.

Rs 46,500

Love - Fast AF, responsive touchscreen, easy usage

Hate - Lens ecosystem is inadequate, avereage low-light performance

sabyasachi.b@thehindu.co.in

Published on August 01, 2013

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