Of all the many compact mirrorless system cameras Samsung has released to date – and there are many indeed – it’s the Samsung NX1 that can proudly claim to be the best camera that the manufacturer has ever made. So the fact that it has decided to port the NX1’s APC-S 28MP sensor and most of its features into the newly-announced NX500 is great news for consumer photographers looking for a little bit more power in a compact form.
The camera is aimed firmly at the top end of the prosumer market, the crowd with cash to spare who wants a good camera but is still scared of a real DSLR. And we’ve had a chance to get hands-on with a per-production model.
The NX500 comes in three colour varieties: black, white, and brown with a handgrip that is kind of a leather knock off. The rest of the camera is finished in silver metal, giving it a very retro appeal.
The Samsung’s 3inch Super AMOLED touchscreen display worked well and was bright indoors and legible out in the sun. While I have never been a fan of articulating screens, it does make it easy to shoot from unusual angles. The screen also flips up 180 degrees, so the hipsters looking to take selfies will love it. It fits comfortably in your hand and weighs in at only 287g.
I really enjoyed the touchscreen as it made working with menu controls a breeze and it was very responsive, perfect for on-the-fly changes. You are also able to use the touchscreen for touch-to-focus. The NX500 uses Samsung’s NX AF System III hybrid auto-focus, which worked surprisingly well. For those users coming over from a cellphone to a camera for the first time, it will feel right at home. These users will find that the Samsung Auto Shot (SAS) autofocus mode has been retained on the NX500.
The NX500 like the NX300 has no Electronic View Finder (EVF), this for me is a major issue as I hate framing pictures using a screen with a camera held at arms length, but that is me, you may like it.
Button layout is not only eye pleasing, but Samsung have managed to cram a lot into such a small space. The camera features a covered USB 2.0 and mini HDMI slot on the left-hand side of the camera. The SD card and battery are underneath the NX500 and on the top near the jog wheel is a WiFi button and hot shoe. There are a number of other buttons situated on the back of the NX500. This is where you will find the photo playback, ISO options and a way into the camera’s myriad menus.
The NX500 supports the advanced Wi-Fi 802.11n for remote control and instant transfers of high-res photos and videos. Together with Bluetooth and NFC, you get fast connectivity for easy sharing. All of these options work very well when paired to a cellphone for quick social media sharing, this is something that Samsung has perfected.
The NX mount currently has around 30 lenses to choose from, with a wide selection of primes, zooms, wide angles and macros. While it may not have as many lenses as some of the other manufacturers out there, how many lenses do most people actually carry in their bag?
Other useful features such as motion detection and auto shot that will help users time the shutter release for the best photo. On paper, the 28MP BSI APS-C sensor makes the NX500 a very exciting prospect and should hopefully mean its low-light shooting capabilities will be good as this is where most of these compact systems fall flat on their faces.
We will bring you a full review on the NX500 as soon as we can get our hands on a unit for a longer period of time, but initial impressions are very good. Keep an eye out for a full report in the months to come.