Fast, reliable autofocus, excellent color reproduction and image quality are sure to make Samsung's NX300, a hit among both newbies and experienced shooters alike. The NX300 is a compact, mirrorless, interchangeable lens camera that allows you greater flexibility in realizing your creative aspirations through its growing lineup of supported lenses. You can even explore in the third dimension with the optional 2D/3D lens.
What You Get
The 20.3 megapixel, APS-C sized sensor-equipped NX300, came along with an 18-55mm kit lens. The body comes in your choice of white, black or brown. Our review kit also included a hot shoe mounted flash unit, lithium-ion battery and USB wall charger, camera strap, micro-USB cable and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. We also tested the optional 45mm f/1.8 dual duty 2D/3D NX lens.
Though the NX300 is small, it has a good weight due to its metal alloy body and metal lens mount. The right hand wraps around the camera, providing a solid grip, with the fingers resting alongside the lens, pulling the body firmly into the palm. Our camera was decked out in a brown, textured, leatherette exterior with a brushed aluminum finish on both the top and bottom plates.
While there is no viewfinder, the 3.3-inch AMOLED LCD panel is sharp, handles display duties quite nicely and is tiltable for better viewing in the bright outdoors and acquiring high and low shots. The display is supported by a metal frame and hinges for greater durability. Next to the LCD are the usual assortment of menu, function, playback, delete and navigation buttons, with the record button easily accessed above the raised thumb grip.
Functions are also accessed using the LCD touchscreen. By lightly tapping you can easily achieve key functions like sharp focus on the main subject, access menu options or control playback of media, including scrolling, by dragging from one side to the other.
The top of the camera features the on/off switch, shutter release and shooting mode dial, including Lens Priority mode which accesses an on-screen slider to control the depth of field, Smart mode (for effects) and Wi-Fi mode to help you stay connected. There is also a direct link to Wi-Fi button for quick uploads to email and social media sites.
While there is no viewfinder, the 3.3-inch AMOLED LCD panel is sharp, handles display duties quite nicely and is tiltable for better viewing in the bright outdoors and acquiring high and low shots.
On the right side of the body a flip-out panel protects the mini-USB and HDMI ports. Underneath is the tripod mount and a flip-up door covering the battery compartment and media card slot. Recharging is accomplished only with the battery in-camera and having an extra fully charged battery on hand is recommended for extended shoots.
The 18-55mm kit lens is equipped with a metal mount, optical image stabilization, an auto/manual focus switch and an i-Fn button. The i-Fn feature allows the user to select and make changes to aperture, shutter speed, exposure compensation, white balance, and ISO with a simple twist of the focus ring.
The NX300 records full HD 1080p video at up to 60fps (30fps in 3D) and 20.3MP stills. Startup is fast and autofocus is responsive, making it possible to achieve sharp focus and grab those unexpected moments quickly. Low light performance is good with little noise through ISO 3200 and serious noise becoming an issue at greater than ISO 6400. The NX300 produces realistic colors with excellent image quality and an impressive level of detail throughout various textures. Dynamic range and contrast are also very good with a nice balance between shadows and highlights.
We like that the NX300 is equipped with 5x and 8x focus magnification and peaking, which makes it easy to achieve sharp focus manually by outlining in-focus subjects with white, green or red in either of three strengths: low, normal or high.
The 2D/3D Lens
If you want to try your hand at shooting 3D the optional 2D/3D lens does a rather nice job. A switch on the lens allows for normal, as well as 3D shooting. Image quality is excellent and the effect is real, although the depth could be greater. Way too simply put, 3D is achieved by offsetting two identical images, one for each eye, which the brain combines into a single image. The greater the offset, the greater the depth. Ideally, the offset image should approximately equal the distance between our eyes. Achieving sufficient depth in-lens isn't practical however due to the size of the lens and its inability to change the distance between the two images. Despite this, decent 3D footage is achievable with the NX300.
Sure to please, Samsung's NX300 captures beautiful HD video and stills with manual controls, sharp focus assists, instant sharing via Wi-Fi and even 3D using the optional lens.
NX300 with 18-55mm Lens: $800; 2D/3D Lens: $500
Camera Type: Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens
Image Sensor: CMOS 23.5×15.7mm
Effective Pixel: Approx. 20.3MP
Lens: 18-55mm, f/3.5-5.6, OIS Zoom NX Lens
Modes: Smart Auto, Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, Lens Priority
ISO: Auto, 100-25600
Focusing Modes: Single AF, Continuous AF, MF, Touch AF and Shutter
Focus Assist: Enlarge 5x, Enlarge 8x, Peaking (White, Red, Green) with three levels (low, normal, high)
RAW Format Shooting: Yes
Display: 3.3” AMOLED with Touch and Tilt (90 degrees up, 45 degrees down)
Display Resolution: WVGA (800×480) 768k dots
Video Resolution: 1920×1080, 1920×810, 1280×720, 640×480, 320×240
File Format: Movie: H.264, Sound: AAC
Frame Rate: 60fps, 30fps, 24fps (1920×810 only), 3D at 30fps only
Max. Recording Time: 29 minutes 59 seconds
Optical Image Stabilization: lens dependent
White Balance Modes: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent (W, N, D), Tungsten, Flash, Custom, K (Manual)
Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11 b/g/n support Dual Channel
I/O: HDMI out, USB 2.0
Recording Media: SD card
Size: 4.8” x 2.5” x 1.6” (122mm x 63.5mm x 40.6mm)
Weight (body only): .6lb. (281g)
- Excellent image quality
- Fast autofocus
- Focus magnification and peaking
- Solid build
- Intuitive menus and navigation
- Battery charges in-camera only
- Battery life could be longer
Contributing Editor Mark Holder is a video producer and trainer.