Unfortunately Awesome - Samsung Galaxy NX real world review 


Android meets camera

I've touched the Galxy NX more than once and allway liked the grip and feel of it. At the same time I was allways worried about how well Android does for a camera OS. I'm still not sure but after a week with this baby I can say that it is a much better camera than I feared. In fact it is unfortunately awesome!

I handled the Galaxy NX nearly ever time I got the chance to, just because it was such a different beast to the other mirrorless cameras. I got my first handsone with the Samsung touch screen control the one click wheel with the Samsung NX2000 I got loaned when my NX11 was in for repair. Liked the interface and the click wheel very much but couldn't handle the small body with big lenses. Now, my new NX20 broke and while this is in repair I got the Galaxy NX. Thank you Photohaus!

The Samsung Galaxy NX is the first camera where Samsung officially told us that every part in it is in house. So even the nice quiet shutter and the smooth shutterelease is made by Samsung. I think that explains a lot of the usability and feel enhancements of the camera.
To start this review of, let me talk about the grip. It is just right. I have big hands and found it always a little stretching to handle the NX11 and NX20 one handed or with a chunk of glas like my Soligor 200mm f2.8 manual lens. Not so with the Galaxy. This beast fits adorably into my hands and is really reassuring to handle one handed. I think it is even better than the newer NX30 in this regard as the space between grip and lens is wider and gives that little extra space to my fingers. This is especially true when I mount the fat boy 85mm f1.4.
The real surpirse for me was that the missing controls on the back together with the big click wheel and the grip make for a painless one handed operation. Set your mode with the touch control to manual and just use the click wheel to cicle through Shutterspeed, Aperture and ISO. This is so much more useful than the back wheel of my NX20 which rotates in the wrong moments when hit by the palm of hand and gets stuck in the moments I direly wish to turn it. You can still do this two handed with the iFunction on the lens of course but it's nice that both ways work nicely now!
Next usability improvement over my NX20 is the viewfinder. It is said to be the same viewfinder spec wise but it seems to have better eye point. I'm wearing glasses and the dioptre doesn't do my blindness enough justice to leave them of. On the NX20 I often press my glasses hard against the eye piece to see the full picture. On the Galaxy the internal LCD is a little more laid back and I can easily see the whole image. This is a big think for me!
Do I have gripes at all with the handling of the Galaxy NX compared to my NX20? Yes! I miss the front function button near the lens mount to set my manual white balance. It is a little to far to stretch to the on/off button for waking up the camera if used one handed. I would really like that screen to flip and rotate like the one on the NX20/NX30 but I guess that is one think you loose when combining Android with a camera. On the positive side the screen is bright, clear, super sharp and missing flipping mechanism makes the camera much slimmer than the NX20.
Things I don't like about Samsung cameras still are the straps and the handles for the strap. Samsung would you please give me either something thin, made of nice leather and round small handles like the Leica M or samething modern wide and comfortable.
That's it for the outside of this camera. The photographic inside is made of a 20MP APS-C sensor with additional phase detect pixels to aid focusing. The sensor is the same as the one in the NX300. The same goes for the processor which is a Samsung DRIMe IV Imageprocessor. What that mean is that the image quality is on par with the NX20. It has very nice dynamik range, good high ISO performance and beautiful resolution. What's different is the autofocus performance and the burst rate. The autofocus is the first on Samsung camera I've used that's really capable of tracking at least in good lighting conditions. In single AF it seems to snatch onto its target a little bit faster than the NX20 but nothing special. The maximum burst rate on the Galaxy NX is said to be 8.6fps versus 8 fps on the NX20, while the low burst mode does 5fps instead of 3fps. Both cameras are let down by their buffer though. The Galaxy can only shoot 5-6 raw frames per burst and the NX20 hangs up after 8 raw images. Maybe the Galaxy does better with a fast card as is the case with the NX20 but I couldn't try that right now. My NX20 drives a Sandisk Extreme UHS-1 SD card while the Galaxy has just a cheap HAMA microSD card in it. Those microSD cards by the way aren't the best choice in my opinion. The camera body seems big enough to house a full size SD card, which would be faster, more solid and a lot less likely to loose and you get standard SD card readers on nearly every computer nowadays.
On the bright side performance wise the touch to focus function works a treat and the startup time is much much faster than my Nexus 4 and Nexus 7.
The Android part is standard Samsung Touchwiz and runs based on Android 4.2.2 Jelly bean. I replaced the Touchwiz UI with Nova Launcher which makes the Android part run even slicker and greatly improves the experiences and the room on the 4.8" screen. Driven by a Samsung 1.6GHz quad core CPU and 2GB of RAM. What that brings to us is top notch performance at the time of introduction driving apps like laps it pro for timelapse and the gallery fast and flawlessly. Even RAWDroid to rate and tag your raw images directly works fast and without hesitation. Uploading to whichever cloud you deserve? Sure does it and with Wi-Fi n 2.4GHz and 5GHz and LTE there is enough juice to get even those raw files up there to your server. Additionally the camera features A-GPS, GLONASS, Bluetooth 4.0, DLNA and mini HDMI 1.4.
This makes this camera the seemingly perfect choice for travel and journalistic photographers choosing a mirrorless system as it delivers all the possible connectivity right from the go without the usual adapter madness. Though it is not a tablet and I won't write an essay on the small keyboard, I can upload an image to tumblr and wordpress and write a few comments alongside.

To be frankly I'm not using the android part a lot. I have a Nexus 7 Tablet to write and read and as my site is not hosted on wordpress I upload my images through my MacBook Pro anyway. I however thing it is great that this is an effort in an Android camera because the camera menus and the user interface of the camera app are as usefull and easy and structured as it gets today. I hate the wannabe graphical menus of the first Sony NEX cameras and when you give me an Olympus camera I keep searching half an hour before the camera is set up as I want it to going through the rows and rows of options.

The Galaxy camera is a tremendous camera with a nice android touch in the backround to enhance its capabilities over time. So unfortunately I really like this camera much more than my NX20 as a camera. It handles better, shots better and gives me the same amazing image quality.
Oh, and one more thing. The shuttersound is so much nicer on the Galaxy NX. It's smoother, seems a little quieter and has a less electronical sound to it.

Samsung has managed to produce a usability dream at least for my style of shooting. 

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