I have been waiting for this camera ever since the Galaxy Camera was announced last November! The first fully connected interchangeable lens camera is here.
I knew the reality of a completely connected interchangeable lens camera was just a matter of time. And who better to bring it to us than Samsung? They knocked it out of the park with the Galaxy Camera that was released in November and they are back to do it again with the innovative Samsung Galaxy NX Camera -- the first interchangeable lens camera with a fully connected, 4G experience. Image this -- the best of the NX system is bread with the best of the Galaxy system. And, poof! The Galaxy NX was created.
It's a game changer, no doubt about it. Over the last few years, consumers have voiced an opinion about desiring a smooth, seamlessly connected photo experience. They want to quickly take, edit and share their images with friends and family. Being bogged down by transferring images from a disk to their personal computers and then loading them to Facebook simply takes way too long.
I was lucky enough to get some hands-on time with the camera yesterday. And I was very impressed with what it has to offer. More information about my first impression will come later. First, I will give you the rundown of the specs.
The Samsung Galaxy NX Camera features the same 20.3-megapixel APS-C sensor found in the NX line of cameras. The sensor offers a hybrid autofocus system. It features a huge 4.8-inch fixed LCD touchscreen, SVGA electronic viewfinder and very similar user interface as what we saw in the Galaxy Camera. The camera is powered by a 1.6 GHz Quad-core processor. It is 3G/4G LTE and Wi-Fi compatible for constant connectivity and sharing of images. It has a maximum shutter speed of 1/6000 of a second and hast 8.6 frames per second continuous shooting speed. The body style is very similar to the NX20 -- giving users a nice sized hand grip (a very important feature to this reviewer).
But one of the best parts of the Galaxy NX Camera is that the users are no longer constrained by the camera's built-in lens. Which now means this camera to can not only be used by daily point-and-shoot and mirrorless camera enthusiasts, but (dare I say it?) professionals and semi-professionals, too. I know, I know ... bring on the backlash. Trust me, I thought long and hard before writing those words. I knew they would stir up some deep rooted beliefs about professionals and their cameras--what they look like, how they perform and who uses them. But I decided to take the plunge because the line between professional and consumer is fading fast. Mirrorless cameras broke open that invisible line when products like the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and the Sony NEX-7 were introduced as viable competitors to traditional DSLRs. But Canon and Nikon started paving the way a few years before that by creating a new line of semi-professional cameras called "prosumer DSLRs." But what do these aforementioned cameras have that cameras like the Sony RX1 and Fuji x100s (cameras that can produce some amazing, professional grade images) don't have? Interchangeable lenses--the ability to pick your own lens from a myriad of choices. The ability to have the same camera be a fantastic portrait camera and a great street-shooting camera at the same time.
So Samsung is paving the way. They are committed to the idea of making the Galaxy NX user friendly for all types of photographers: the budding professional photographer as well as the daily point-and-shoot user. But this is no easy task. Professionals are demanding and require that their equipment meet certain standards. And a lot of point-and-shoot users want a camera to do the work for them. The Galaxy NX actually does a good job at marrying these needs into a camera that has the capability to offer complete photographic control to the user or let the camera do the work for them due to a great user interface and a nifty little feature called the ifunction and many of Samsung's lenses. The "iFn" button (this is how it is printed on the lens) allows the user to change features like shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, and ISO through a twist of the lens.
The lens selection of the Samsung NX line of cameras is moderate right now ... coming in at 13. But I suspect that will change, that we will begin to see Samsung grow their line of lenses to meet the demands that the Galaxy NX will produce. If this camera is meant to be used by professionals, Samsung will need to make sure their lens selection is stocked with high performing lenses with wide open apertures and fast AF speeds.
During the first look at the Galaxy NX I was able to get my hands on the full line of lenses. I went straight for the big dogs; the 60mm f/2.8 macro, the 85mm f/1.4 and the brand new pre-production 10mm f/3.5 fisheye. I was impressed with the lens/camera combination of these higher end Samsung lenses. And overall, I am pleased with where the selection of lenses currently stands, but I know it will not be enough to keep professionals happy. A telephoto lens with a variable aperture range of f/4-f/5.6 will not cut it. Professionals are looking for lenses with apertures of f/2.8 and greater; especially when it comes to mirrorless cameras.
Of course, we all know that the Galaxy NX camera will be capable of quickly connecting to the internet using either a 3G/4G LTE or Wi-Fi experience and that the camera will have a capable sensor that can take some amazing images, but there are a few really neat features of the Galaxy NX camera that might not get as much attention as those. The first one is a "watermarking" option that allows the user to seamlessly drop a logo or copyright over the images. This is a great feature for professional photographers who are using this camera as a second (or third) body and want to have their images up on Facebook seconds after the shot was taken.
Another great feature is the expansive creative modes that are available. For example, users can take images and drop them into a photo book program that can then be printed by a printing company and sent back to you in no time. Lastly, the battery in this camera is huge! Samsung knew that the processor and LCD screen would be a major battery drainer, so they decided to fight this battle with an insanely large battery. I used it nonstop for the better part of an hour, but I barely put a dent in the battery life. I will be interested to see how it holds up in daily use, but so far I am very pleased that the Galaxy NX was given a battery of this size.
The user interface will be very similar to the current Galaxy Camera. It will be just as easy to navigate the web, download new apps, visit Facebook, log onto Pinterest, and have a Skype conversation as it was with the former model. But the Galaxy NX Camera is much more of a deliberate attempt to focus on great photographic quality than before; a camera with benefits ... a camlet. Make that an ILCamlet.
Although I was using a pre-production model (very pro-production I was told), the camera responded very well minus a small glitch here and there. As a reviewer who is used to pre-production units, these glitches -- a slight delay in response time for example -- are expected as the manufacturer is still working out the kinks. What I really wanted to see was the image quality that was produced from this camera. I was really happy with it, especially after attaching some higher end lenses to it. Pixel peeping was reserved for in-camera viewing only as I was not allowed to remove any images from the camera. But I was pleased with the results when viewed this way. The images seem much sharper than those coming from the original Galaxy camera thanks to a larger sensor and better lens options. The images seem to be on par from what I got out of the NX300; a camera that is reviewing very well for us. I was able to capture the pretty blue sky up against the Ney York City skyline with great color quality. No purple fringing (chromatic aberration) was seen at the edges of extreme contrast. The shutter was responsive. Auto focus was good, but effected by the lens being used. Some of the lenses were more responsive than others. I really enjoyed using the new 10mm fisheye even though I am not a huge fan of them. I digress for a moment; the 10mm fisheye on the Galaxy NX's body produced a softer and smoother feel than I thought it would. I was much happier with the lens than I first expected to be.
I think the Galaxy NX will appeal to a broad range of users. Avid photographers will likely enjoy the flexibility of this camera. The young generation of users will love its sharing capabilities and budding professionals could really benefit from taking this along on their shoots and posting watermarked images onto social media just seconds after snapping the image (or minutes later if they choose to do a quick edit in Snapseed first). No matter who uses this camera they are sure it find it fun and easy to use. I know I did!
I am looking forward to getting my hands on a final release of the Galaxy NX camera. I can't wait to show you guys what it's capable of producing.
Pricing and availability have yet to be announced, but we expect it to be released later this year -- possibly around the same time the original Galaxy Camera was released and just in time for the holidays.