I called Samsung’s latest ILC, or interchangeable lens camera, effort a ‘Swiss Army knife’ on the front page. And it is – it packs a number of features into a pretty petite frame – and with the dazzlingly white finish, it looks good at the same time. It’s also available in black, and I think that in terms of future resale value, the black might be a better option; over time, the white will likely show scuffs and wear more readily than the black version will.
The camera itself is clad in a white, high-density plastic. I don’t mean that as a criticism, as the NX1000 feels extremely well-built. Samsung has learned how to source high-quality plastics over the last several years, thanks in no small part to their rise in the smartphone market. To be honest, the NX1000 is very likely better off for using the plastic – it borders on the edge of being too heavy for its size (with battery and flash, it weighs nearly a full pound), and using metal may have pushed it over. As it is, it feels weighty and solid, in the way that high-quality electronics should.
Samsung bundles a tiny flash, the SEF-8A, along with the camera. It’s roughly equivalent in power to what you’d get on a high-end point and shoot, though flipping it up raises it at least a little bit more above the plane of the picture (this is, of course, a good thing). It’s actually removable and sits in what appears to be a standard hotshoe mount. That means that you can pretty easily slap in a much more powerful flash, if necessary, and Samsung would be more than happy to sell you one.
The NX1000 is full of just as many buttons and dials as most DSLRs, certainly the entry level ones, with two dials, (one top, one rear), and dedicated shooting mode buttons on the back. Speaking of buttons and switches and things, this camera has a proper toggle switch for power, like a more advanced camera – so you won’t be quite as likely to turn it on accidentally in your bag. You’ll need a bag, too, if you don’t want to keep it around your neck all the time, as it’s simply too large to be pocketable.
Inside is a 21.6 MP CMOS sensor, though Samsung’s implementation nets you an effective resolution of 20.3 megapixels. It supports an ISO range of 100 – 12800, which is respectable for a camera of this class. And you might thing that ISO 12800 would be useless, though you’d be wrong. It’s pretty noisy, which is no surprise, but at first glance it really feels like substantial details remains in the images. We’ll know more, of course, when we go in-depth for our full review. That sensor is capable of capturing 1080p video at 30 frames per second, and if you’re willing to drop down to 720p (which is still enough for most people), you can ratchet that up to 60fps. It would be nice if you could manage 60fps at 1080p, especially since this is a mid-2012 camera at a current $600 price point. There is no external mic jack, but a pair of stereo mics means that the audio recording is reasonable.
The Samsung NX1000 comes with a 20-50mm F3.5-5.6 lens. It’s your average kit lens, which means that it’s usably sharp but nothing too special besides. If I personally owned the NX1000, my first purchase would probably be one of Samsung’s NX-mount pancake lenses, like the F2.4 16mm or the F2.0 30mm prime. Those lenses are superthin, and would really make the mobility of the platform shine. Mind you, the much brighter aperture helps, too.
Despite the slightly dim kit lens, you might not have to worry too much about light. Samsung managed to pack an optical image stabilization system into the NX1000, which means you could get an extra stop or two of useful light. So if you feel like slowing the shutter down a little bit, you can probably get away with it. There isn’t actually OIS built-in, merely an option with the proper lenses. It does have menu options for GPS, but the GPS unit itself is optional, so these menus remain frustratingly greyed out without it.
The LCD on the rear of the camera is bright, easy-to-read, and with a pretty nice, even contrast. At three inches, however, we’ve been spoiled by the high resolution LCD and OLED panels popping up in smartphones and tablets – it would be nice to see manufacturers start to break this 640×480 limit.
I would be remiss for not mentioning one of Samsung’s favorite features in the NX1000 – the Wi-Fi “Smart Link” capability. By downloading an app to your iOS- or Android-powered smartphone or tablet, you can sync the NX1000 up and transfer your pictures wirelessly. I only tried this a few times, but it feels buggy, unrefined, and a little slow. Still, if your SD card is full while you’re out on the road, or you Really Need to Upload This Picture to Facebook Right Now, it’s a workable solution.
So far, the NX1000 is turning out to be a respectable little camera – we’ll see how it holds up in our battery of tests, so stay tuned for the upcoming full review!