The Samsung NX300..my thoughts and a Guest User Report!

The Samsung NX300..my thoughts and a Guest User Report!

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1st up…

The Samsung NX300, my thoughts, a continued 1st look

by Steve Huff

I have had a Samsung NX300 with me for a while now. 1st with the 18-55 OIS Kit Lens and then a 30mm f/2 lens was sent to me by Samsung. They asked me to try out the camera and lenses to see what I thought as Samsung was extremely proud of what they have created with the NX300, which they feel is their best NX to date, by far. I ADMIT, I have never been a huge Samsung NX fan BUT NOT because of anything that has been lacking in quality. Rather, I have just been having too much fun with the other cameras that have come through the house. Samsung has always struck me as a jack of all trades kind of company. Phones, tablets, TV’s and everything Electronic, even more so than Sony so I do not see them as a “Camera Company” but an electronics Giant who wants to compete in the Camera market. Sony does the same but Sony purchased Minolta a few years back so they have that on their site..a real camera company from years past.

As for Samsung, I have shot with one or two of them in the past and enjoyed their ergonomics, build and even responsiveness but for some reason, not sure what it was, I never came back or actually bought one. When Samsung approached me about becoming a part of a program they were launching to help promote the camera, and offered me a free NX300 for doing so, I hesitated. I told them that I would happily review the camera if they sent me one but I could not keep the camera in exchange for constant posts or tweets about it. So I declined the offer but told them I would review the camera.

NX300 and 30 f/2 at f/2 – JPEG – ISO 200

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In the end I told them I would review it and then send it back to them when I was done. With it being so busy for me over the past 3 months I have had some use of the NX300 but not as much as I have liked because the newer cameras were my priority. With that said, I have to say that when I do pick up the NX300 it is a JOY to shoot and use. The build is really nice, the design is retro but modern and beats the Sony NEX series in the looks department for me hands down. The IQ is nice, and the dials are all solid and feel great. It is a well made machine. As I shoot I wonder why this  thing is not on the minds of more shooters.

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The LCD is a nice 3.3″ display and touch screen and is gorgeous. The camera focuses fast and speedy and with the APS-C sensor inside, offers APS-C quality. So with all of this, why does Samsung struggle with sales? It seems that Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, Canon, Nikon and almost everyone else sells more cameras than Samsung. There are also many Samsung haters out there who seem to have a mission to trash talk them, for no good reason. The NX300 is a great camera. Lenses like the 30 f/offer a fast 50 equivalent and I hear that the 85 1.4 is stellar. No, not Hasselblad Stellar 🙂

ISO 1600 – JPEG

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I am starting to shoot the NX300 more and more now that I have the other reviews done but I can say my only real complaint is the fact that there is no EVF built-in or even available for the camera. I love my EVF’s 🙂 So with that being my only real niggle so far, I look at the price of the NX300 with a lens included. $798 WITH 18-55 OIS Zoom lens. Not cheap but not expensive for an APS-C camera of this quality and build. The 30mm f/2 lens that gives an almost 50mm FOV is only $299, and is a great lens that seems to give better performance than most of the Sony NEX lenses.

The 30 f/2

SAMSUNG CSC

The NX300 has a 20MP APS-C sensor, Full HD video capability, Hybrid and FAST AF with Phase and Contrast detect, WiFi, Touch AF and control, and includes Adobe Lightroom software. It is just as capable as other APS-C sensor cameras though will not give you the Sony colors or Fuji colors. Instead it will give you a neutral color rendering that many may enjoy. I still have more testing to do with the NX300 but will enjoy getting out and using it more. So stay tuned for more from ME on this one.

Until then, check out a reader report on the NX300 below by Jon Seymour. 

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USER REPORT: Samsung NX300 – A Novice’s Point Of View

By Jon Seymour

I have owned this camera for just a few weeks now, and for me it arrived at exactly the right time. I was looking to make the switch from compact to DSLR, as I wanted to take photography a little more seriously than I had been the past few years, as I have started writing about music, and often travel to concerts for live reviews. It makes perfect sense then that I should want a better camera to get some better shots for my own articles. With the sheer amount of equipment available, I quickly found myself out of my depth, as I had absolutely no clue where to start. Enter the NX300, which I was lucky enough to receive as a competition prize, along with the 18 – 55mm F3.5 – 5.6 kit lens that’s bundled with it.

Pigeons Smart Mode Action Freeze 18-55mm

The first thing I was impressed with was the build quality. It looks the part, and feels weighty in your hand, and I really like the retro styling. What impressed me the most though, was how amazingly simple it was to assemble the camera and take photos straight out of the box. It’s billed as a smart camera, and it is exactly that. As a complete novice, you can switch it to auto, and obtain great results almost all of the time. The user interface is intuitive, and the built-in help menus display the various functions when you highlight them, so you know what each one does.

The camera is far cleverer than most amateur photographers, and I would wager could get better results than if you tried using it on manual, unless you had at least some idea of what you were doing. There is also a “smart mode” where you can select the type of subject you wish to photograph, and the camera optimizes the shutter speed, aperture, ISO and pretty much everything else, so all you need to do is just point it and shoot. Another really great feature is “Touch AF” whereby you tell the camera what you want it to focus on, just by touching the correct portion on the AMOLED screen.

Notre Dam 60mm Macro

As well as the auto modes, there are of course several manual modes that allow you to have more control over your photos. There are basically two kinds of manual modes. The assisted manual modes set up various values automatically, based on your selection of the manual function, and there are 4 of these, and there is the completely manual mode, so you can set the camera up exactly as you want it, without any help from the built-in computer.

The camera comes with several guide books, one of which is a comprehensive guide to photography explaining what all of the functions actually do, and what effect these will have on the finished photo if you change them. It’s a welcome addition to the package, and I have been able to explore the camera’s functionality in-depth, and gain some understanding of how to use it more effectively. The auto mode is great, but doesn’t always produce the results you want. This is where the manual modes really come in useful.

The AMOLED touch screen is clear, and you can select functions from that directly, or use the more traditional buttons placed on the rear of the camera. It’s this dual functionality that really makes the camera attractive, and anyone used to working a smart phone will be instantly at home with it, whereas those who are more used to the traditional control methods are also catered for. The only problem with the screen is that in bright sunlight, it’s really difficult to see it. It would be nice if there were some sort of hood or sunshield available, as this would make things a lot easier. Not having a view finder only adds to this problem, as quite often you are unable to see whether you’re getting the photo you want. There is a digital viewfinder available, but it’s an expensive add on.

The picture quality is really good, and it’s only when you go over ISO3200 that you really begin to notice some noise creeping in to the pictures. At lower ISO though, the pictures are great. It also sees colours quite well, even reds, so that’s a bonus. Also, with a 20.3mp sensor, it makes the images large enough to crop out any unwanted bits, and still be left with a reasonably sized picture.

High Jump 200mm 50mm-200mm Smart Mode Action Freeze

As an introduction to the more advanced world of photography, this is a very good product. It’s intuitive, easy to use, less cumbersome than a full fat DSLR, and will allow you to learn at your own pace, and it’s still fairly forgiving, even on the assisted manual modes. While there are many DSLRs on the market that may be able to produce better results than the NX300, they will cost considerably more. The NX300 though should be thought of as an extremely advanced compact camera, rather than a fully functional DSLR. There are a wide variety of lenses available, some of which I had the opportunity to use, and even in the hands of an idiot such as myself, produced some great photos.

I have spoken to a great many professional photographers who have used the NX300, and most of them have adopted it as a secondary camera, for occasions when a DSLR isn’t practical. A select few also said that they would use it as their primary camera, as even some of the higher end DSLRs will struggle to outperform it. As for me, well, it’s just begging to be explored. I have started to look at the world in a different way. I used to use a camera because I wanted to take pictures of things, but the NX300 has switched that on its head. I now want to take photographs, simply because I want to use the camera.

Spider Macro 18-55mm

The WiFi feature is also extremely useful, as you can link the camera to your smart phone via the free app available, and instantly transfer pictures from your camera to your phone. If you have an Android phone, you can also make further use of it, as there’s also a remote viewfinder app, which lets you operate the shutter remotely too, although only for photos at the moment, not video, it does come in very useful in bright sunlight when you can’t see the camera’s screen though. Speaking of video too, the recording quality is very good and it is true 1080p HD. The microphone is prone to a little wind noise, but of course, they usually are. It would be nice for an option to plug-in an external mic though.

The camera supports both JPEG and RAW formats, and both are very high quality. There are also many picture sizes to choose from, including square pictures for things like Instagram etc. The camera does suffer somewhat on burst mode and continuous shooting in RAW mode though, and it can render the camera unusable for several minutes while it empties the buffer onto the memory card. If you really must use the burst mode or continuous modes, you’re much better off with JPEG to be honest.

Eiffel Tower 18-55mm

It’s not a cheap camera by any means, but it does come with the full version of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, which is a very good piece of editing software. This is also something I’d not used before, and for the novices out there, it’s a lot less confusing than the full version of Photoshop. That said, this camera is an investment. If you want a point and click camera, then there are cheaper ones out there, but if like me, you’d like to get a more advanced camera and learn how to use it properly, but are confused by the world of the DSLRs then this is a camera that you should seriously consider. Personally, I think it’s an great piece of technology, and while it might not perform well enough for some professional photographers, it’s certainly good enough to outperform the DSLRs at the lower end of the market, and even many of the more expensive ones.

 Jon Seymour

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30 thoughts on “The Samsung NX300..my thoughts and a Guest User Report!

  1. I am a MFT user, but am trying to help my niece make a wise purchase with limited funds, and the price/performance on this camera right now is really appealing (it apparently is way lower pricing than when this review was written). But the lack of long term security/expandability is holding me back. Really, a proprietary lens system from a company that considers photography market as an afterthought, and you can’t even get an EVF, that is a huge red flag for lack of choices down the road. As nice a camera as this may be, I can’t in good conscience recommend a choice to my niece that she might later regret, and perhaps even resent me for if & when she does get the bug, but finds she has to start all over with a different system.

  2. I also am happy that I chose NX300 to be my second camera after my point and shoot. My friends say I take incredible shots and they thought I have a DSLR. They don’t have any idea that I have a mirrorless Samsung.

    I don’t have an issue with it lacking EVF since I have not owned a DSLR before. It is also great in taking FUll HD videos.

  3. Hello 🙂
    Im thinking of buying this camera, but I am in doubt, as I do not find the colours that good or sharp 🙁 Would you recommend this or any other camera for me? I have e.g. been looking at all the Sony Nex’s, Sony a5000 etc, but I cant choose! I want one with sharp quality and tilt screen (for selfies hehe) and it must be under or around 580 us dollars. I would really appriciate the help, since im thinking of selling my Canon 600d, to buy a new one (My canon is too big, therefore I want a smaller one and I dont know how to use it). I apologize for my english 🙂
    Sincerely, Sabine

  4. You say there is a digital viewfinder available, but I have been unable to find somewhere that sell it.

    Can you please give me a link or tell me where I can get it, I hate cameras without a viewfinder…

    1. At the present time there is no viewfinder available for the NX300, only the NX100. I have sold my Canon 7d and now use only the NX300 almost exclusively, very pleased with purchase and in brown a bit retro. Also got a great deal and all the camera I need, viewfinder would be the icing on the cake though (I live in hope!)

      1. the review says (There is a digital viewfinder available, but it’s an expensive add on.) and I thought there was one 🙁

        I also ordered the brown one 🙂 and as you said the viewfinder would be an icing on the cake

  5. I cannot decide which camera to buy Samsung NX 300, or NX 3000 or Nikon 1 J3. Main purpose is take pics of my 4 yr old son playing sports.

  6. No viewfinder kills it for me. I got rid of the e-p2 for the same reason. The cameras get pretty good reviews, but they really need a viewfinder.

  7. I am an experienced amateur with at present a Canon 7d, but last year picked up an nx100 for great price, have the 30mm lens as well and can honestly say a very enjoyable camera to use. Feels good in the hand with an excellent amoled screen, good ui, fast focus with the 30mm lens and good build quality. Have achieved outstanding results with this camera, and for an on the fly street camera fabulous. Am currently waiting for delivery of the nx300 and seriously contemplating selling the Canon as being left on the shelf too much, not everyone will be in the same position, horses for courses etc, but for me as a casual enthusiast a small lightweight camera with excellent image quality and the ability to set up as I want is all I need, never have been swayed by brand image and simply happy with a good product.

  8. I was very much tempted by the NX200/210/300 cameras, before I decided to go with the Sony NEX 5. The only reason for that was the flange distance of the NX. Why the hell has Samsung made the flange distance so long, that the camera does not accept M-mount lenses? In all other aspects the NX300 looks impressive to me.

  9. Samsung makes a good camera. The main reason I went with the NEX system over the NX system was the ability to use my M glass. That being said, the NX system up until recently has been poorly marketed. I have just recently seen several positive reviews from bloggers who have been getting free stuff.

    I have to thank Steve for declining the pay to play system that Samsung is trying to exploit. Humans have a natural desire to replay gifts with gifts, even subconsciously. This is why there are so many lobbyists in washington and so many drug reps in your doctors office.

    In short, bloggers and websites need to let people know when they are on the dole and if they are a reputable site, they will turn down the goodies.

    Steve, I applaud you and thank you

  10. Steve & Jon,

    Thanks for review, input and thoughts on the Samsung. I’ve shot numerous brands over the years. Currently, at my day job, I shoot 2 Fuji X-Pro1’s and love them (I find myself composing from the LCD quite often). That said, I decided for my freelance work I would give the NX300 a try. I believe this camera is more than capable of doing paid/pro work. I’ve been going back to my local camera store and “testing” the camera a few times and although no viewfinder is kinda a bummer…the files that come out of the camera are wonderful. I love the neutral color rendering that Samsung has going on.

    For me, I could care less about size or ‘name brand”. First and foremost does it feel right in my hand? Secondly, what do the files look like straight out of camera with no post work. This camera scores high on both counts for myself.

    Again, thanks for taking the time and posting the info and sample images. I think Samsung has refined this line and has made something special. For me, I’m excited to go out and shoot! 🙂

  11. Samsung’s 30mm f2 is an amazing lens – I had it with the original NX-10 camera and loved it, the 50-200mm was also fantastic with colours that give my EOS 70-200 f4L a run for it’s money.

    For me the NX-10’s shutter wasn’t quite responsive enough in the end and the sensor was an older design, and i really wanted an ultrawide lens, so i went to an NEX-5n and while it’s smaller and more responsive i miss the vibrant colours, even in RAW’s, When they announced the Galaxy-NX my heart sank – that looks (ugly…but) cool.

    I’d recommend a Samsung NX camera any day

  12. I think the reason most people don’t seriously consider a Samsung camera is because they are wary of investing in that “Camera system”. As we all know in the age of digital it is all about the collection of lenses you build up and the cameras get replaced every few years.

    You can be pretty confident about the M43, Fuji and to a lesser extent perhaps the Nex lens systems continuing in to the future. But will your Samsung lenses be used on various new camera bodies for the next 10-20 years?

    Can’t help thinking they would be better off building X100 or RX1 type fixed lens cameras, at least to establish themselves in the market.

  13. Hi Jon & Steve,

    I appreciate your review of the NX300. The more I shoot, and the older I get, the more I simply want two dials or independent buttons to adjust aperture and shutter speed. I also want the camera to show the difference in picture as the changes are being made with the shutter release button partially depressed.

    Does any camera you know fit the bill?

    1. actually the NX300 has a function where you can set up one of the buttons on the back to give you a shot preview 🙂 honestly, this is the only camera I’ve used except a compact, so I’m not that qualified to comment on anything else 😉 I’m starting out into the vast world of advanced photography, so get out of my depth quickly.

  14. I like that Samsung entered the CSC market – another player is always welcome and they seem pretty serious / aggressive about competing in the mirrorless segment!

    So why haven’t they been embraced by photographers as strongly as hoped? I think maybe the answer to that isn’t directly related to Samsung perhaps so much as it is to their competition. In the APS-C arena, Samsung is up against Sony & Fuji – two very, very ‘heavy hitters!!’

    If we look at the 3 main components of a CSC we have 1) Body 2) Sensor and 3) Lenses.

    1) BODY – both Sony and Fuji have high-end (you could say ‘enthusiast’ or ‘pro-level’) bodies to move up to and grow into, where-as the top-tier Samsung body seems to top-out at ‘consumer’ level (does Samsung have an offering to match or better the NEX-7 or X-Pro 1?)

    2) SENSOR – both Sony and Fuji are obviously leaders and innovators in sensor design. Unfortunately Samsung seems to be lagging behind them here

    3) LENSES – I like the direction that Samsung has gone with their lenses and it’s too bad their partnership with Schneider didn’t develop further (Schneider sure knows how to make some great glass) but… do their current offerings match those of Sony-Zeiss and Fuji?

    OK, I know what Samsung would say now: “our market is the consumer market, not the high-end enthusiast or pro market” but it’s my personal belief consumers that want to shoot with something MORE than their camera phone, want to shoot with the same equipment that a high-end enthusiast or Pro would if they were to choose a small mirror-less camera. It give the consumer both room to grow, and validation that their choice / investment in cameras and lenses was a good one.

    Don’t get me wrong – I really DO hope that Samsung can improve their market share but in order to do that I think they’ll need to come out with an innovative piece of kit **that will appeal to the high-end shooters**, and that that excitement will certainly trickle down into the consumer market and generate sales.

    Just my 2 cents 🙂

    1. I think it has to do more with Samsung not being known as a camera brand but as an electronic brand. I’m not sure what particular innovation could really sway high-end shooters as they can be stubborn and pretty much sticks to the brand they are used to. I think samsung is doing the right thing of lending off experienced photographers to try the camera as there seems to be some fear factor or biased involved as to using an unknown camera brand. and I believe it is working so far as some shooters and readers are now getting intrigued about the product.

  15. Probably a nice camera, and I am sure Samsung will do well in the market over time. They can afford to hang in there until they hit a home run 🙂

    However, the pictures look unsharp (low micro contrast?) and somewhat out of focus. Especially the jumper (the focus seems to be on the light board).

    This one is not for me, but new cameras, and hopefully innovations, are always welcomed 🙂

    1. Perhaps the jumper is out of focus, but up until about 48 hours before I took that photo, I’d not used anything more than a point and shoot camera, and I was still learning to get to grips with the camera and the concept of advanced photography. Admittedly I was using auto modes for pretty much everything at the time, so I was probably not getting the good results I could have got with the manual modes. I can honestly say it’s the best camera I’ve ever used, but having only compact cameras to compare it to, that’s hardly surprising 😉 I am enjoying using it to learn more about photography though 🙂 I am a complete novice when it comes to the world of CSC and DSLR, and as a learning tool, I don’t think I could have done much better to be honest 🙂

  16. It seems like a nice little camera but there is no wow factor with it. You really have to hit it out of the park if you are going to push yourself into a new market. I hate to say it, I’m just not impressed.

      1. A set of properties belonging to an object that pleasantly surprise a watcher. From commercials to cool electronics, the wow factor is an important thing to consider when designing it.

  17. Maybe I’m way off here, but on my screen, these photos almost remind me of slides. Don’t know how else to put it, but i really, really like them all.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Jan

    1. I have the same impression. Must have something to do with color, contrast, tonal curve and clean output at low isos.

      Especially the first picture reminds me of the analog days – very nice 🙂

  18. Yes, cams are getting better and better. The NX300 for sure is an nice piece of gear. Like other Aps-C Cams it has its limits, as you can see on your last Picture. Best camera with APS-C i´ve seen today is the Fuji X-Trans sensor. But it´s painfully slow. I then bought a Nikon V1, it´s fast as hell but the quality of the tiny sensor is not in the same ballpark. So horses for courses, i think i´ll have a look on the Samsung when available in my small German hometown. I just look for a cam with the quality of the X-E1 and the speed of the V1. Maybe a future Samsung?

  19. I’ve been pulling for Samsung for a long time. I like that they are willing to be different from other cameras. I still might be lured away from M4/3 into the APS-C world, and Samsung is still in the running.

    Their good UI is a big draw. The neutral color is not a negative because I am, at my core, a black and white guy.

    I’d be more willing to buy if it came with the 30mm.

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