Many today are seasoned users of smartphones and tablets and quite familiar with photo, video and sharing capabilities. Everything from selfies to real-time news stories are shot and uploaded within a matter of seconds. Samsung has taken the "device with a camera" paradigm and stood it on its head with its new Galaxy NX. Featuring an Android operating system and interchangeable lenses the Galaxy NX has the potential to shoot and upload excellent quality photos and HD video instantly. Users of Android apps, phones and tablets will find themselves in somewhat familiar territory, all others will experience a bit of a learning curve.
Stuff It Comes With
For a difference of one hundred dollars the Galaxy NX can be purchased with or without the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 ED kit lens. Our kit came with the lens and we didn’t have a chance to test it with Samsung’s prime or special lenses. Also included in ours were a carrying strap, a thin vinyl pouch, battery, USB charging cable with 120V wall plug, disc containing Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5, SIM card, 8GB microSD card, quick start guide and handbook.
If you are content with email, Internet, scheduling and other Android apps, with so-so photo and video image quality, then stick with your smartphone or tablet. The DSLR form factor is too bulky and awkward and the price too high if those are your main interests. If you really just want to capture great video and don't care so much about the rest then you can do that quite well for less money. On the other hand, if you really like the idea of having way-better-than-cell-phone image quality, along with all the other goodies, then the Galaxy NX may be worth a closer look.
The Galaxy NX achieves its high image quality using a mirrorless system with a 20.3MP APS-C 23.5mm x 15.7mm sensor. The build is solid, with a composite as the primary construction material and a metal lens mount. The camera itself is quite thin with an extended bulge on the right side dressed in a rubberized material forming a solid grip for the right hand. On the rear, a raised area provides a convenient thumb rest. Record and shutter release buttons are within somewhat awkward reach of the right index finger. The mode dial and power button are also located on the upper right surface of the camera.
A bulge at the top of the camera behind the lens houses the built-in flash, hot shoe and electronic viewfinder. The EVF activates automatically when placed up to the eye and features a heads up display showing current settings, with its very own histogram. The diopter adjustment dial and flash release button occupy the left side of the EVF. The I/O options include a headphone jack and micro USB, USB 2.0 and HDMI ports.
One of the most striking features of the Galaxy NX is its large, 4.8-inch scLCD, 1280×720 touch screen. After the initial setup, the home screen looks like that of any other Galaxy tablet or smartphone, with Camera, Gallery, Play Store and other Android app icons along the bottom, and three scrollable screens, one of which contains the Camera Studio widget loaded with various sharing, photo and video editing applications for enhancing the image quality of your work.
Tapping the camera icon at the lower left of any screen switches the Galaxy NX into camera mode. Onscreen buttons at the right let you shoot photo or video and a virtual dial lets you select from the usual options such as Auto, Manual, Program, Aperture or Shutter Priority as well as My Mode, User and Smart Mode. Tapping the gear icon pulls up a smart menu providing access to controls for shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, ISO, white balance, metering, photo size, quality, focus modes, auto focus area, shooting rate and flash. Additional icons across the top of the menu give you more options for improving image quality, including manual focus assist with 5x enlargement and focus peaking with multiple level and color options. The on screen histogram provides exposure assistance and can be switched out if desired for an onscreen level indicator at the tap of a virtual button.
A switch on the side of the lens toggles focus between auto and manual while the iFn button gives quick access to several useful settings such as shutter speed, iris and ISO. Wireless connectivity includes Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n 2.4+5GHz), GPS, networking and Bluetooth 4.0.
In practice you'll quickly find that this isn't your typical tablet or smartphone camera. Images are crisp and clear with beautifully reproduced colors. Performance is good, even in low light, with virtually no grain evident until ISO 800, with significant increases beginning to appear at 3200 and beyond. Dynamic range is good, about average for this class of camera. Texture and fine detail are nice and very crisp.
If you want to take excellent photos and great HD video, with the ability to swap out lenses, share your creations instantly with friends or clients, access tons of Android apps, check your email and play a hot game of Sudoku in your downtime, all in one package, then you'll want to check out the Galaxy NX by Samsung.
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.
$1,600 (body only)
$1,700 (with 18-55mm lens)
Display: 4.8" HD scLCD, 0.5" SVGA EVF
Chipset: Pega-Q +DRIMe4 + MDM9215 (XMM6360)
Memory: 2GB (RAM) + 16GB (eMMC); microSD (up to 64GB)
Video Recording: 1920×1080 (30p, 25p); 1920×810 (24p); 1280×720 (60p, 30p); 640×480 (60p,30p); 320×240 (30p) (MPEG-4, H.263, H.264, WMV, RV, VD-1)
Audio: MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, WMA, RA
Camera: 20.3MP APS-C CMOS
Interface: micro USB, USB 2.0
Wireless Connectivity: BT 4.0 Wi-Fi a/b/g/n HT40 2.4G/5GHz
GPS: A-GPS + GLONASS
Dimensions (LxHxW): 5.4" x 4.2" x 2.7" (13.7cm x 10.7cm x 6.9cm)
Battery Capacity: 4360mAh, 3.8V
OS: Android JB MR1
UI/Web Browser: TouchWiz for Android/Chrome
PC Applications: Kies (Windows & Mac), Lightroom
LBS: Google Maps (Turn-by-turn navigation)
- Great HD video and still photo quality
- Shallow depth of field
- Large display
- Shooting assists
- Easy touch screen controls
- Battery charges in-camera
Contributing Editor Mark Holder is a video producer and trainer.