Review: Samsung NX1000 DSLR offers a range of features for budget conscious shooters
At a Glance
Samsung New! NX1000 (White) 20.3 Megapixel Compact System Camera
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Not surprisingly, manufacturers often pare down the body and feature set on entry-level cameras. But while Samsung has streamlined some aspects and features of the NX1000 ($500), the least expensive of its NX line of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, it hasn’t scrimped on the sensor size or resolution. Like the NX20, the small NX1000 is built around Samsung’s 20 megapixel APS-C sized sensor, and its feature set—including WiFi—is pretty much the same.
The downsizing becomes evident in other areas. The NX1000 has no built-in flash although it comes with a tiny accessory flash; no viewfinder (nor the option to buy one); and it doesn’t have the high-end AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode) monitor of the top-of-the-NX-line NX20. But by eliminating those features, the NX1000 is on the shelf at a more affordable price than its siblings.
Build and hardware design
Available in black, pink, or white, and bundled with a 20-50mm lens (the white model comes with a matching white lens), the NX1000 weighs 0.48 pounds (without the battery or media card) and measures 4.59-by-2.46-by-1.44 inches, making it one of the smaller cameras in its class on the market. Still, unless it’s equipped with Samsung’s 16mm pancake lens, it’s not pocketable—and even with the 16mm pancake lens, it is probably a tight fit in a jacket or coat pocket. The unit is sturdily built, though, and its grip is reasonably comfortable. One-handed shooting is possible but it’s best to also balance the camera with your left hand wrapped around the lens barrel when taking pictures.
Compared to the NX20, the NX1000’s physical features are, as mentioned earlier, pretty spartan. The 3-inch, high resolution (921,000 dot) LCD, for example, is the only viewing option, and while it's not as good as the NX20’s display, the NX1000’s LCD is clear and bright except in really harsh sunlight. The LCD, however, is fixed rather than articulated like the NX20’s and it doesn’t brighten up very much in super low light—only just enough to see what you’re shooting.
You can trick out the NX1000 with optional accessories such as a GPS unit and an external microphone, all of which use the same hotshoe/accessory port as the flash, so you’ll only be able to attach one of the accessories at any given time. Be sure to pick up an HDMI cable for viewing stills and video on an HDTV.
Controls and features
The control layout is fairly standard, so digital camera users–even point-and-shooters who are stepping up–will generally have an easy time finding their way around the camera. Combined with its easy-to-navigate menu system, the NX1000 doesn’t have much of a learning curve. A large mode dial and the power switch reside on the top panel. Rear controls are more extensive with buttons for movie recording, the menu, and an Fn (function) button that calls up a quick menu for commonly used settings. Playback and programmable custom/delete buttons are also available, along with Samsung’s unique iFn and Smart Link buttons (more about those later). A four-way arrow pad, with a center OK button, provides access to Display (information, live histogram, virtual level), Focus (single, continuous, manual focus), Exposure Compensation, and Drive/Self-Timer options.
Like the NX20’s 18-55mm kit lens, the NX1000’s 20-50mm kit lens (with a 25-75mm equivalent focal range) is equipped with the iFn button. This provides a unique method of control over parameters such as aperture, shutter speed, exposure compensation, ISO, white balance, and the iZoom (an extended zoom option that is supposed to have less degradation than the digital zoom, though I’m a firm believer in using only the optical zoom range for the best results). Pressing the iFn control calls up a customizeable mode-contextual menu. Then all you have to do is turn the lens ring to adjust settings. It may take a little while to get used to this feature but it’s worth exploring.
Just behind the shutter release you’ll find the Smart Link button, which activates the camera’s wireless network. It can be programmed to access one of the WiFi options, including MobileLink (Samsung’s app for iOS and Android), which can be used to send and view images on your smartphone. There’s also a remote app for iOS and Android, which provides access to a limited number of camera features, including the shutter. Set-up can be a little time consuming. But with patience and a bit of knowledge (or willingness to follow directions), most people will have few, if any, problems implementing this camera’s WiFi functionality. Perhaps the best aspect is being able to upload images and videos to photo sharing and social media sites like Facebook and emailing media directly from the camera. The WiFi function can also be used to automatically back up images to your computer or to view photos and videos on a TV Line-enabled television.
Despite its multiple screens of settings, the NX1000’s internal menu system is well-organized and easy to navigate since each set of options is presented on a separate screen. That means that you don’t have to scroll beyond what’s visible for each page. A built-in help guide provides excellent descriptions of each setting–actually some of the best descriptions I’ve seen. If you don’t need or want these automatic pop-ups, they can be disabled. But they are really helpful for those unfamiliar with more advanced digital camera features.
As expected, the NX1000 has a full assortment of exposure options including full manual, semi-manual, and automatic modes–basically, something for every skill level. Some 15 scene modes can be used for specific conditions and subjects. Beauty and Portrait are both good for taking pictures of people. Other scene modes include Children, Dawn, Sunset, Sports, Text, 3D, and Panorama. For more creative options, the NX1000 offers some Samsung favorites including a set of Smart Filters (vignette, negative, sketch, old film, and soft focus). Scrapbookers will particularly like the Magic Frame options that, as the name implies, frames an image with a graphic.
This little camera is capable of taking some really nice pictures. Color rendition is quite good—accurate but natural and not overly saturated. Exposure accuracy is mixed but the camera does a good job under most conditions, although it falters a bit under extreme lighting. Most test shots exhibited excellent detail and the lens produced images that were sharper than expected.
Thanks in part to the large APS-C sensor, the NX1000 handles high ISOs quite well. With a range of ISO 100-12,800, I felt very comfortable shooting at 800 and even up to 3200 in a pinch. Sure, image noise is visible at higher ISOs but unless you plan to make some really large prints, the NX1000 certainly offers enough flexibility to push the ISO to relatively high settings.
Shooting video with the NX1000 is pretty straightforward. More advanced users may want to set the aperture and/or shutter speed manually before recording while others will simply set the camera to Program and start shooting.
Full HD 1920-by-1080, 1920-by-810, 1280-by-720, 640-by-480, and VGA (the latter for only 30 seconds) are available and recorded as MP4 files. All resolutions are captured at 30 fps with stereo sound, although 24 fps–the standard for motion pictures–is available for 1920-by-810. Additionally, quality can be set for normal or high. Special Multi Motion modes can be set for normal, high speed, and slow motion playback although no sound is recorded in Multi Motion.
Video quality is okay but the movies can look a little jiggly. Exposure accuracy is good, especially if the aperture and shutter speeds are set manually. The stereo microphones are fairly sensitive so be careful if you’re in a quiet location: the camera seems to pick up every little sound. The camera’s audio recording isn’t bad; but just average, at best.
The NX1000 isn’t the fastest camera in its class but it manages to push out images at up to 8 frames per second (up to 11 shots) or 3 frames per second (up to 15 shots). It just takes awhile for the files to be saved to the card so don’t expect to shoot again right away after shooting in continuous mode. There is also a burst mode that can capture up to 30 fps, but at lower resolution. Start up time isn’t bad although it takes an extra second or two when the sensor cleaning option is enabled to shake off any dust that may have accumulated on the sensor while changing lenses. Shot-to-shot time is fine but autofocus takes a little longer to lock in than I anticipated (and the 20-50mm lens is a bit noisy as it searches for focus).
Samsung’s entry-level NX1000 offers a versatile feature set, including WiFi, that will please budget-conscious enthusiasts and consumers seeking a compact, interchangeable lens camera with good image quality at a relatively affordable price.
Photos by Theano Nikitas. All rights reserved.