FIRST LOOK: $2,599 Samsung NX1 Comes With A Pro Price, But Is It A Pro Camera?

Written by David Richards     23/11/2014 | 22:08 | Category: DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY

Will Samsung be a key player in the top end photographic market with a camera that kicks in at $2,599. It's hard to imagine it ever happening, especially as they struggle in markets where other brands dominate.

FIRST LOOK: $2,599 Samsung NX1 Comes With A Pro Price, But Is It A Pro Camera?
The PC market is a classic example, Samsung launched into this market with a superior range of PC's and all in One PC's but despite having a great product they still quit the market earlier this year because of limited distribution and wafer thin margins.   

The photographic market is dominated by big brands like Canon, Nikon and Olympus, camera Companies who have been kicking around in this market for decades, Samsung is a new player who is trying to take on these brands plus the likes of Sony, Panasonic and Olympus all players who are trying to carve out share in the mirrorless camera market.

Samsung believes that the mirrorless camera technology is the future over digital SLR cameras.

The only problem is that the real Pro's including fashion and travel photographers along with most news photographers still use a digital SLR camera and they swear by them. "Better lenses, better manufacturer service and DSLR bodies that seriously deliver" are just some of the comments made to me this weekend when I challenged several professional photographers as to whether they would consider doing professional shoots using mirrorless camera technology.  

The overwhelming answer was no. Many said they had never used a mirrorless camera while some said that they had been paid by mirrorless camera Companies to use the camera they admitted that after their contracts had expired they had gone back to shooting pro shots using a digital SLR camera. 

So how does the new Samsung NX 1 stack up, and is it worth considering. 

Surprisingly this camera is very good but I suspect Samsung is going to struggle getting the $2,599 they want the NX 1 body and a 50-150 zoom lens.

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Under the bonnet this camera has a 28MP APS-C BSI sensor which delivers 205-point phase detection and 15fps continuous shooting. 

And having worked in war zones and with some of the best news cameramen in the world, I believe that this camera would stack up as it is superfast, delivers a great image and above all has built in all the communication capability need to get images from the camera to a storage source anywhere in the world in seconds.

 This is achieved because Samsung has built in 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, USB 3.0 and NFC capability that is significantly better than what I have found in several other camera brands. 

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Display on top of cam era body

For example if you are shooting in Europe you could easily save to a Google or Dropbox account so that you your images are always safe, for news photographers you could easily get their images back to the picture desk in seconds. 

The NX1 has a magnesium alloy shell and is weather proofed, it feels good in the hand however with a 50 to 150mm lens is heavy, and this is not necessarily a negative. 
There is also, nothing shabby about the build quality. There's also support for an extra battery base that adds vertical controls and on the top of the device is a screen that delivers operational intelligence, this is really handy. 

This camera can shoot in 14-bit RAW or 12-bit when shooting continuously. The extended ISO range goes all the way up to 512,000 ISO, even the native ISO is an impressive 128,000 so data capture of an image or action shot is packed with detail and the image can be easily enlarged.  

Samsung has no real camera pedigree but they do know how to make image processors, and if digital cameras are set to go mirrorless Samsung is facing a battle with Sony who are already a major supplier of CMOS sensors and digital camera processors used by several other manufacturers particularly in smartphones.  

Samsung claims that their new processor is 2.8x faster than its previous processor and because Samsung does not see the JB Hi Fi customer or SmartHouse audience as a serious camera market we have not been able to test the prior NX 30 model.

What we did notice that when it came to burst photography and auto shooting this camera delivered.  

Basically the camera has an auto trigger system built in, this technology allows the processor to work out when is the best time to release the shutter taking into account motion detection and the tracking of for example a speeding sports car on a track. 
To setup up the shot you need to use the display screen to select the subject area such as on a race track and then the Auto Shot system tracks the motion at 240fps.

It's crystal clear that Samsung has realised that if they are to be successful in the digital camera market that have to deliver a body that seriously ticks the boxes when it comes to delivering value for money and performance. 
The biggest mistake Samsung has made is sticking the name Samsung on their camera's and lenses. 

Panasonic uses the name Lumix to market their cameras because creating a separate brand works. For example, BMW has the Mini brand, Toyota the Lexus brand and Wedgewood the Waterford Crystal brand, this allows big Companies to create unique images around their product offering something that Samsung struggles to comes to grips with because the Korean Company believes that their brand is so strong that it will carry across into the camera market. 

It will with people who want a cheap camera, the NX1 is not a cheap camera. 

It's a bit like saying a Holden can compete with BMW or Mercedes in the Luxury car market.   

Samsung might not dominate cameras like it dominates phones, but that won't stop it from trying. 

The Samsung NX1 is premium camera but the issue is will consumers accept it as a premium camera.

There is no doubt that the standout feature of the NX1 is the sensor and in the same way that Samsung processors are at the forefront in the phone and tablet market the sensor is the real reason to consider this camera.  

Their sensor is first sensor to feature backside-illumination (BSI), which if it performs as Samsung claims it will deliver excellent performance in low light, in the tests that we conducted in a room where we could change the lighting, this camera delivered excellent results.

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Brilliant display,poor design of hinges, excellent and very clear menu system

One serious standout feature of this camera is that you do not have to take the battery out to recharge, you simply plug it into a Samsung phone charger and away you go. For example every single Lumix camera has a different battery design resulting in one having to carry multiple chargers if you own more than one Lumix camera. 

This camera, supports 4K video recording and shots at up to 15fps at full resolution, it also supports Cinema 4K and Ultra HD resolutions with 8-bit colour, which you can output directly to a 4K TV video via the on-board HDMI output however you will need a micro HDMI cable.

For those who want to add an external microphone there is an external microphone input plug however, it appears that Samsung does not sell an attach microphone or a wireless microphone kit. 
The NX1 records to the h.265 HEVC video codec. In the video we shot the video content was excellent. 

I have only had a limited time to play with this camera, what I would like to do is test it with multiple lenses from wide angle to a 200mm to an 85mm lens.

As a former news photographer who has worked in environments where a slit second can be the difference between getting the picture on the front page or getting it binned I find this camera quite interesting and would seriously like to give it a workout in a slit second action environment such at a V8 or Formula 1 race as I believe it has serious potential.

When I shot low light photographs a pattern assist beam appeared that projected a green LED pattern appeared on the Samsung Super AMOLED display screen, this only kicked in when I was shooting in very low-light, it apparently works up to 15 metres.

The screen and viewfinder are impressive however it does not work as well as the Lumix G4 4K camera.

The NX1 has a Super AMOLED rear screen that tilts forward not upwards or sideways as I would like, the hinge is very rigid and limiting.

While the screen delivers a 2.36m dot OLED EVF and is incredibly crisp and sharp the functionality of the display is limited despite the content from menu being excellent and easy to navigate.  

The extended colour range of Samsung's OLED technology which sets their mobile phones apart delivers excellent colour accuracy to the display screen.

 Samsung claims that the screen delivers the Adobe RGB colour space to over 90 per cent.

First Impressions

In the limited time that I have had to play with this camera I have formed the impression that this camera has potential, speed is impressive, design good with the exception of the hinges on the pop up AMOLED display and above all it takes very good pictures and excellent video.

 The big IF, is would I fork out $2599 for a Samsung branded top end camera, I doubt it, as my inner sanctum keeps telling me this Company is a maker of great TV's, tablets and smartphones and if you want a really serious camera you have to buy it from a Company that has an history of delivering great camera's, Canon and Nikon have this but not Samsung.

 There's plenty to like about the Samsung NX1 and if Samsung keep up the work they are putting into their camera range they will get there not necesarily up against Nikon and Cannon but players like Sony, Olympus and Panasonic with their Lumix range, these are Companies who are pushing hard to dominate the mirrorless camera market.

Up against the mirrorless camera brands, Samsung have a lot of potential.

 If this product was selling for $1,795 with a good lens I believe it would have a better chance of success. If I was Samsung I would throw in an 8" Samsung Galaxy S with the NX1 package as it would come in very handy for reviewing images.

The bottom line is that this beast is superfast and it is a camera that you have to take seriously and when compared to digital SLR camera including the Nikon D7100 or the Canon EOS 7D II the NX1 delivers superior movie recording and burst shooting speeds, it also delivers superior  Wi-Fi functionality but a person looking to spend two and a half grand on a camera are going to think twice about a camera branded Samsung. 

The price Ouch!