This flagship 20.3MP, APS-C sensor ILC makes the best use of Wi-Fi yet
Once you have the image as you like it, you can use the Direct Link button to share it. This is set to auto-share as the default, so it will push images to another device as you shoot. It worked well when paired with a Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone, though images took a minute or so to show up on the phone’s gallery. So if you check right away, you might think it didn’t work, only to find the images in your gallery the next time you look. (Canon’s EOS 6D proved speedier in this respect.)
If you turn off auto-share, you can choose which images to move, and you can use your phone or tablet to operate the camera remotely. The camera can also be configured to send images directly to Facebook, Picasa, or Samsung’s AllShare cloud service, which you can configure to automatically push images to other photo-sharing sites such as Flickr.
Though Panasonic never got very far with its dedicated 3D lens for the Micro Four Thirds system, it didn’t stop Samsung from making a dual-purpose 2D/3D 45mm f/1.8 lens, which comes in a kit with the NX300. Inside, it moves into place two tiny LCD shutters that alternate 60 times per second between exposing the left and right halves of the sensor.
The result: 3D stills or Full HD video. Images are output in the standard MPO file type, and in our trials they played back seamlessly on a Sony Vaio 3D laptop. The images don’t appear to protrude out from the monitor much—rather, they produce the illusion of depth extending behind the screen surface.
Shooting is largely automated in 3D mode, so you don’t have a lot of control over camera settings. Also, though the effective field of view does not change, the camera fixes the aperture at f/6 while varying ISO and shutter speed for proper exposure. That’s a little easier to work with than the Panasonic’s fixed f/12 aperture, but it still wasn’t as much control as we’d like. We did appreciate that the camera simultaneously captures 4.1MP 2D versions with 3D images.
During normal shooting, the NX300 provides quite a bit of control. Continuous shooting tops out at 5 frames per sec with continuous metering and AF, and it can reach 8.5 fps if you’re willing to sacrifice those conveniences. And if you can live with 5MP images, you can capture 30 frames in 1 second, 15 fps for 2 seconds, or 10 fps for 3 seconds—again with focus and metering locked. Break out your golf clubs, it’s time to analyze that swing.
Unfortunately, the AF couldn’t always keep up with the 5 fps burst when shooting in well-lit interiors. This usually occurred when panning from nearby to faraway objects. It did a better job with objects moving toward or away from the camera.
The Bottom Line
There’s a lot to like about the Samsung NX300. It can produce extremely detailed images, with accurate colors, and makes them easy to share with your friends. Its dedicated movie button lets you switch to recording video quickly, and the footage we captured was very pleasing.
If you’re a fan of 3D images, the NX300 and its lens offer a nice way to incorporate 3D shooting into your routine, while being able to switch back to 2D without changing the lens.
While the NX line of lenses can’t match the breadth that’s available for Micro Four Thirds, it offers a more expansive array of glass than Sony’s system currently does, including some wonderfully sharp optics, such as the 85mm f/1.4 and the 60mm f/2.8 macro. If only Samsung would see fit to allow for a hot-shoe mounted EVF, we’d be even happier.
In the meantime, the NX300 remains a great value for the price, especially considering that it ships with Adobe Lightroom 4.
IMAGING: 20.3MP effective, APS-C-sized CMOS sensor captures images at 5472x3648 pixels with 12 bits/color in RAW mode
STORAGE: SD, SDHC, SDXC slot stores JPEG, SRW RAW, RAW + JPEG files
BURST RATE: Full-sized JPEGs (Fine mode), up to 9 shots at 5 fps; RAW (12-bit), up to 4 shots at 5 fps
AF SYSTEM: TTL contrast/phase detection with 105 (phase)/247 (contrast) focus areas; single-shot and continuous AF with face detection and subject tracking
SHUTTER SPEEDS: 1/6000 to 30 sec, plus B (1/3-EV increments)
METERING: TTL metering with Multi (evaluative), center- weighted, spot (size of spot not specified); EV 0–18 (ISO 100)
ISO RANGE: ISO 100–25,600 (in 1/3-EV increments)
VIDEO: Records at up to 1920x1080p 60 fps in H.264 format; built-in stereo microphone; no mic input. Maximum clip length 29 min. 59 sec.
FLASH: No built-in pop-up; ships with SEF8A hot-shoe flash, covers 28mm (equiv.) field of view, GN 27 (feet); flash sync to 1/180 sec
MONITOR: Tilting 3.3-inch AMOLED touchscreen with 768,000-dot resolution; 5-step brightness adjustment
OUTPUT: USB 2.0, micro HDMI video, WiFi 802.11b/g/n with Dual Band
BATTERY: Rechargeable BP1130 Li-ion, CIPA rating 330 shots
SIZE/WEIGHT: 4.8x2.5x1.6 in., 0.8 lb with a card and battery
STREET PRICE: $750, with 20–50mm f/3.5–5.6 ED II lens; $798, with 18–55mm f/3.5–5.6 lens; $999, with 45mm f/1.8 2D/3D lens