Samsung’s NX300 sticks it to Canon, Nikon, and Sony

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This morning Samsung South Africa officially launched its NX300 mirrorless, or Compact System Camera (CSC), in South Africa. For those who are not steeped in the heritage of photography, the fact that Samsung makes cameras and lenses might not be as big a surprise as it would to those who have cut their photographic teeth with names like Nikon, Canon and Pentax. Even more surprising to these established shooters will be the fact that the Korean electronics giant does a very good job, even scooping up some awards and industry firsts. For example it was the first to place an APS-C sized sensor (like conventional DSLR cameras use) in a mirrorless camera with the NX10.

The NX300 challenges the establishment again. The NX range was first to offer Wi-Fi in camera, and in the NX300 the system evolves to include the ability to automatically share images to your smartphone or tablet while shooting. A new image processor allows for another first: a 45mm f/1.8 lens, the first single optic lens able to shoot 3D images as well as regular stills.

Unlike entry level DSLR cameras which have a mirror to hinder the camera’s speed, the NX300 is capable of shooting at 8.6 frames per second. That competes with DSLR cameras at twice this price.

For today’s launch we had the opportunity to try some of these features at a cycling track in Turfontein, Johannesburg while Team MTN Qhubeka pedalled around the track. The NX300 was surprisingly responsive, putting models like Canon’s direct competitor, the EOS M to shame. It may not be as fast as a high-end DSLR, but the statement made is that the day has arrived for Samsung, and for mirrorless cameras, which are more practical, suitable alternatives for general use, when compared to entry-level DSLR cameras.

Images from the NX300 are sharp, with the camera providing detail and flexibility that your smartphone would cry for, while offering the ability to pair up with the same for easy editing and sharing on the go. Should you choose to edit on a PC, the NX300 comes with a copy of Adobe’s Photoshop Lightroom 4 in the box.

It will go on sale in South Africa tomorrow, with prices starting at R8 999 for the single lens (18-55mm) kit. That makes it pricier than entry level DSLR but at the same time it is not entry level itself, nor in spec. This raises the question: should you buy one? We suggest trying it out. If we’re  honest, it ticks the boxes for most people’s needs, and then some. Its not a camera for a professional shooter – not yet – but as a everyday, easy-to-carry machine it is ideal. The only way to better it in the very near future we think, would be to merge it with Samsung’s own Galaxy Camera… a Galaxy Camera NX, if you will. Just so we can leave our smartphones or tablets at home.

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Christo van Gemert

Christo van Gemert

Eleven years ago Christo started writing about technology for one of South Africa's (then) leading computer magazines. His first review? A Samsung LCD monitor. Hey, it was hot news, back then. Nowadays he gets more excited about photography, cars, game consoles, and faster internet connections. He's sort of an Apple fan, but will take any opportunity to remind you about his Windows-powered home theatre PC and desire to own a vanilla Android tablet.   Currently uses: Apple 13-inch Macbook Pro with Retina Display, Apple iPhone 5, Microsoft Laser Mouse 6000, Audiofly AF78 Earphones, Xbox 360, Nikon D50.

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