Cameras

Samsung NX1000 Digital Camera Review

Can the Samsung NX1000 keep up with the competition?

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Introduction

The Samsung NX1000 is an entry-level mirrorless camera, combining a 20.3-megapixel APS-C CMOS image sensor, 3-inch high-resolution LCD, 8 frames per second shooting, and most of the features of more expensive NX-series cameras in a compact body. The NX1000 also features full 1080/30p video shooting, optical image stabilization, and a maximum ISO sensitivity of 12800. The NX1000 is available now in both white and black styles, kitted with the standard 18-55mm lens for an MSRP of $699.99.

Front

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Back

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Sides

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Top

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Bottom

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In the Box

Box Photo

Kit Lens & Mount

The lens we tested the Samsung NX1000 with was the 20-50mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens. It offers a slightly truncated focal range compared to the 18-55mm lenses that are common on most entry-level DSLRs, but it also suffered from less distortion than we are used to seeing with kit lenses (though that may be due to some compulsory in-camera processing). The lens handles well, with a locking mechanism that draws the lens barrel inside itself, helping limit the lens' size. The lens is mostly made of plastic, however, with a plastic mount. This fits with the rest of the camera, but it may limit long-term durability if you swap lenses quite a bit.

The lens mount on the Samsung NX1000 is the same metal NX-series mount that we've seen on the NX200 and NX20 this year. The mount allows you to use Samsung's line of mirrorless lenses, which has grown in quality a bit since the line's launch in 2010. The two best lenses, in our opinion, are the 60mm f/2.8 macro and the 85mm f/1.4 portrait lens. These are expensive relative to the camera body itself, but they offer superb image quality and great sharpness.

Lens Mount Photo

Classic Pentax lenses can be mounted with readily available adapters.

Sensor

The 20.3-megapixel CMOS image sensor on the Samsung NX1000 is reportedly the same one that has appeared in their entire 2012 NX camera lineup, right up to the $1000+ NX20. It offers fast image throughput, relatively sharp images with the kit lens (and some in-camera processing), and generally acceptable low-light performance in all those models.

Convergence areas of different sensor sizes compared

Display(s)

The rear monitor on the NX1000 is a high-resolution (921k) TFT-LCD display. It's a bit of a step down from the OLED displays on some of Samsung's higher end cameras, but it's functional in most situations. It's not quite as bright, though, and we found it getting washed out on sunnier days. Without a viewfinder or the ability to articulate the display, this can make taking pictures very difficult at times outdoors.

Connectivity

The Samsung NX1000 uses standard ports hidden behind a plastic door on the right side of the camera. The ports include micro-HDMI and micro-USB. This provides a nice bit standardization that not all cameras have adopted yet. By sticking with standard ports Samsung makes finding replacements for your cables a breeze, eliminating the need to have extra, practically worthless cables cluttering up drawers in your house.

Battery

The NX1000 makes use of a Samsung BP1030 rechargeable, removable lithium-ion battery with an external wall-mount charger. The battery has a capacity of 1030 mAh at 7.4 volts, though Samsung didn't provide a CIPA rating on their site or in the manual. They do say that it's capable of up to 320 photos by "Samsung's test standards," which are likely different than the weird CIPA ones. We found that the battery was pretty limited, as we had to charge it roughly 3/4ths into a full day of shooting. Your mileage may vary, but the NX1000 seemed to need charging more often than we are used to in the testing process.

Battery Photo

Image Quality

The Samsung NX1000 did well in the majority of our image quality tests, performing well in our dynamic range and noise tests. The camera's strongest performance area was sharpness, but in-camera JPEGs are cooked substantially, so there's quite a bit of haloing going on. The one weakness is color accuracy, but those just looking for solid, vibrant images will be fine with what the Samsung NX1000 produces.

Sharpness

Paired with the 20-50mm, f/3.5-5.6 lens, the Samsung NX1000 did well in our sharpness tests. The camera had solid performance in the center of the frame, with the edges showing some falloff. The camera did oversharpen its shots, however, with the default JPEGs showing as much as a 20% increase in contrast due to haloing around these areas.

We did find that the camera kept distortion in check, perhaps due to the camera's truncated focal range relative to most kit lenses. Where most lenses push the wide angle to 18mm (generally increasing barrel distortion), the Samsung NX1000's 20mm wide angle had distortion results that were more palatable, though they may still be subject to in-camera correction when capturing JPEGs. More on how we test sharpness.

Color

The Samsung NX1000 utilized various color profiles called "Picture Wizard" styles in the camera. This can be turned off entirely, or tuned to some common modes such as standard, landscape, and portrait. We found that the most accurate mode was the "standard" picture wizard (including turning it off entirely), which had an average delta-C (color error) of 2.92. Typically we like to see DSLRs post color errors closer to 2 than 3, but the Samsung NX1000's performance isn't impacted too severely by the lack of accuracy.

One thing we did note was the general oversaturation of all the picture wizard styles. While not as bad as some manufacturers, most of the styles produced images that were over 105% saturation, with vivid going up to 120% of the ideal. The standard mode rang in at around 106%, while turning picture wizard off resulted in a saturation level of roughly 97%. More on how we test color.

NOTE: Because of the way computer monitors reproduce colors, the images above do not exactly match the originals found on the chart or in the captured images. The chart should be used to judge the relative color shift, not the absolute captured colors.

Color Modes

The picture wizard styles on the NX1000 can be adjusted in the main menu or in the camera's "function" menu, brought up by pressing the Fn button on the back of the camera. Within these presets you can also adjust color, saturation, sharpness, and contrast to your liking. This will alter the modes color accuracy, though we only test each mode on its default setting.

White Balance

The Samsung NX1000's automatic white balance system did well in more extreme light conditions, but we found that it performed worse under common lighting conditions where most cameras excel. We found its custom white balance settings to be easy to use and more accurate, though.

Automatic White Balance ()

In testing the NX1000's automatic white balance, we found that it did poorly under daylight and compact white fluorescent lighting conditions, with an average temperature error of roughly 500 kelvin for both. Under tungsten lighting it performed about the same (roughly 500 kelvin off), but this is substantially better than most cameras normally do. Shooting under real life conditions outside the lab we found that the camera did okay under an overcast sky, but it did produce a slight color tint sometimes and skin tones did require some adjustment in certain shots that we took.

Custom White Balance ()

The camera's custom white balance settings performed much better overall, with an average color temperature error of between 127 and 165 kelvin for all three lighting conditions (daylight, compact white fluorescent, and tungsten). That's not perfect, but it'd be difficult to see color shifts that small in most conditions and you wouldn't see much of a difference in most shots when capturing a custom white balance.

The Samsung NX1000's custom white balance compares favorably with most interchangeable lens cameras, able to diagnose white conditions pretty well. We found it struggled more in relatively simple conditions when using the automatic white balance, but it did better than expected under a very warm condition such as tungsten lighting. Overall we'd suggest using custom white balance when it is possible to do so, as the camera may struggle more with mixed lighting especially.

White Balance Options

The Samsung NX1000 makes capturing a custom white balance quite simple, with the ability to take a custom reading right from the white balance selection menu. This white balance menu is in the camera's "function" menu and also includes several presets, the automatic white balance setting, and a custom kelvin temperature entry setting for situations where you know the exact color temperature.

Noise Reduction

The NX1000 has two noise reduction settings: off and on. Simple enough, though the reality is a little more complex, as both tend to reduce noise at higher ISO speeds when shooting JPEGs. The off setting was usually more than enough in our testing, keeping noise under 1% all the way to ISO 3200. From there it rose to 1.4% and then 2.5% at ISO 6400 and 12800, respectively. More on how we test noise.

Dynamic Range

We found that the Samsung NX1000 was capable of 7.88 EV of dynamic range at the minimum ISO speed, with our cutoff being a signal-to-noise ratio of 10:1. (Most other sites, and the ISO standard, report dynamic range down to a SNR of 1:1, which is significantly lower quality, but yields more stops). This put it right in line with its competition in the category, with the performance predictably falling off from there. Dynamic range stayed above 3.49 stops all the way to ISO 6400, however, where it fell off precipitously to less than two high quality stops as noise began to dominate the image. More on how we test dynamic range.

Chromatic Aberration

The 20-50mm kit lens on the NX1000 has a maximum aperture of 3.5-5.6 and a minimum aperture of f/22. In our test images from our resolution test, we saw only minor chromatic issues at the corners at the extremes of the aperture range. This was less than we typically see from other cameras, with a slight green tinge around edges at the corner of the frame. Otherwise, the NX1000 had very little noticeable chromatic aberration.

Distortion

Distortion on the NX1000 was kept to a minimum with the 20-50mm kit lens. We found an average pincushion distortion of just 0.28% at the wide end (20mm), which increased to around 0.68% at the telephoto end. In the middle distortion hit roughly 0.44%, tested at the 35mm focal length. While this lack of distortion may be due to the lens's smaller focal length, it could also be due to in-camera corrections adjusting the horizon line to straighten out lines that were distorted by the lens' optics.

Motion

The NX1000 reproduced motion quite well from our test rig. There was very little trailing, though there was some ghosting and artifacting present in the image. The motion of the pinwheels was fairly smooth, but the camera had trouble rendering the vertical lines on the side of the train. More on how CamcorderInfo tests motion.


Video Sharpness

We found that bright light sharpness was somewhat limited with the NX1000, as the camera had difficulty downsampling the 20-megapixel signal and producing much beyond 500 lw/ph of sharpness. Vertical sharpness was also limited, as only around 425 lw/ph was visible in our test footage. More on how CamcorderInfo tests video sharpness.

Low light sharpness was also quite poor with the Samsung NX1000, with a dropoff of about 25 lw/ph in either direction. The major difference was just in the appearance of contrast given the lower light level, though. In truth, the camera struggled in both lighting conditions, making it hard for us to recommend it over a dedicated video camera.

Low Light Sensitivity

The Samsung NX1000 needed 19 lux of light to reach 50 IRE on our waveform monitor. We call this the camera's low light sensitivity because that is the minimum amount of light needed to create a video image that passes broadcast television's brightness requirements. Compared to your average consumer camcorder, this sensitivity score from the NX1000 isn't very good, but it's workable. Part of the reason for the NX1000's sub-par showing in this test stems from the camera's f/3.5 kit lens. A faster lens with a wider aperture should give the NX1000 a boost in low light video.

Usability

The Samsung NX1000 is pretty straightforward to use, with a design that should feel somewhat familiar to point-and-shoot users. For advanced shooters it may lack the manual control of higher end cameras (even similarly priced high-end fixed lens cameras), but for those between the beginner and expert ends of the spectrum, the NX1000 is a camera you can grow with. It has a physical mode dial, an easy-to-use quick "function" menu system, and the company's useful "i-function" button on the lens. We're not 100% sold on the main menu design, but in general the camera makes fiddling with settings a simple affair, with the peace of mind of a physical mode dial with auto and scene modes in place when necessary.

Automatic Features

The Samsung NX1000 features a "SMART 2.0" automatic mode that automatically sets certain shooting parameters to best capture the given scene. The camera does this using its 221 segment metering system. This also gets utilized in most of the camera's shooting modes (all except automatic), including both the aperture and shutter priority modes and program auto.

Buttons & Dials

The buttons on the Samsung NX1000 are a bit of a mixed bag. Like most entry-level interchangeable lens cameras the body is mostly made of plastic, and the buttons are mostly set into the plastic flush with the body. They're a little tougher to press than some of the controls on other cameras as a result. This goes for the four rear buttons (outside of the control dial), as well as the smart link button on top.

Effects, Filters, and Scene Modes

The Samsung NX1000 comes packed with many effects and filters. The camera offers a group of scene modes (with a dedicated place on the mode dial), as well as the "picture wizard" color mode controls. They're easy to use and adjust on the fly, letting less advanced users do a great deal of adjustment and impromptu editing right inside the camera.

Instruction Manual

The manual on the Samsung NX1000 outlines the basics quite well, with a little more information present for those who want to dig a little deeper. It doesn't go into great depth, though, but it presents a decent primer on some basic photography terminology and techniques. If you're just looking for a basic rundown of what the camera can and can't do and how to get started, the manual isn't a bad place to start, and you'll get a little lesson on photography in the meantime.

Handling

The Samsung NX1000, like most cameras in its class, features just a plastic protruding grip on the right side of the body. The grip is textured, along with a small patch on the back of the camera designed for the thumb to rest on. These provide just enough grip to keep hold of the camera, but they're hardly comfortable or plush.

Handling Photo 1

The NX1000 doesn't offer much in the way to cope with extreme lighting conditions where the rear display might be less usable. Without an articulating display or electronic viewfinder, you're in a tough spot when you have to take a shot and the screen gets washed out. It also makes handling for video shooting (or when shooting at a high or low angle) quite difficult. While not universal, certainly, articulating displays have made their way into competing cameras in this price range.

Handling Photo 2
Handling Photo 3

Buttons & Dials

The buttons on the Samsung NX1000 are a bit of a mixed bag. Like most entry-level interchangeable lens cameras the body is mostly made of plastic, and the buttons are mostly set into the plastic flush with the body. They're a little tougher to press than some of the controls on other cameras as a result. This goes for the four rear buttons (outside of the control dial), as well as the smart link button on top.

Buttons Photo 1

The NX1000's control dial, however, makes up for the other control buttons, with just the right level of resistance. This makes it easy to adjust a control by just a single notch, while the dial is still loose enough to rotate almost all the way around when you want to make larger changes. The control dial also doubles as a four-way control pad with a center "OK" button. The four-way controls are all much easier to press, offering a nice haptic response when engaged.

Buttons Photo 2

Display(s)

The rear monitor on the NX1000 is a high-resolution (921k) TFT-LCD display. It's a bit of a step down from the OLED displays on some of Samsung's higher end cameras, but it's functional in most situations. It's not quite as bright, though, and we found it getting washed out on sunnier days. Without a viewfinder or the ability to articulate the display, this can make taking pictures very difficult at times outdoors.

Shooting Modes

The Samsung NX1000 offers a physical mode dial built into the top plate of the camera, with settings for program auto, aperture priority, shutter priority, SMART auto 2.0, scene modes, "magic" mode, manual, lens priority, wi-fi, and movie modes. The physical mode dial is nice, as it doesn't take up much space and yet is easy to move around. We did find it could occasionally slide into a different position than we wanted, but these were few and far between.

Manual Controls

The NX1000 has a single manual control dial on the rear of the camera, which is the main control feature that separates it from the higher end NX-series cameras like the NX200/210 and NX20. You can use that dial to adjust the main exposure setting for whatever shooting mode you're on, or you can use the camera's "function" menu, which will let you move around to various options, scrolling the wheel to adjust them on the fly.

Focus

The Samsung NX1000 focuses fairly quickly in bright lighting condition, but we did notice that it struggled to find focus when contrast was low or light was limited. The NX1000 makes use of contrast detection autofocus, with the ability to hone in on a large area or a smaller point. Like most contrast detection systems, it was quite accurate when it was able to find focus.

In terms of speed the NX1000 compares well to most mirrorless cameras. It's certainly not on the same level as the Olympus E-M5, but it's serviceable quick in most situations. Even shooting with the 85mm f/1.4 lens, we found it was able to lock onto the focus point that we wanted more times than not with reasonable speed.

Recording Options

The Samsung NX1000 can shoot in three JPEG quality settings (super fine, fine, and normal), as well as RAW and RAW+JPEG. The camera has a maximum resolution of 20 megapixels, with a native aspect ratio of 3:2. The camera also has options for shooting cropped down in ratios of 16:9, or 1:1, with the ability to shoot a burst of 5-megapixel images where speed is a priority.

Speed and Timing

The Samsung NX-series of cameras all come in at around 8 frames per second burst shooting, giving the NX1000 a leg up on most of its competition in the sub-$1000 market. The NX camera comes with two continuous shooting mode settings, a single shot setting, as well as self-timer option.s

The burst mode on the NX1000 can be accessed directly by pressing the left side of the rear control dial/four-way pad, or by going through the camera's "function" menu. From here you can rotate through the various options, letting you quickly change drive mode when necessary. The self-timer is pretty basic, without much customization, using the green AF lamp and an audible countdown to signal that the camera is about to fire.

The NX1000 easily rattled off frames at just a hair under eight frames per second (calculated as an average over a five-shot burst) in our testing. We did have to bump the shutter speed up above 1/250th of a second to get that speed, but even when shooting with the camera entirely on automatic and at minimum ISO we got six frames per second out of the camera.

Focus Speed

The Samsung NX1000 focuses fairly quickly in bright lighting condition, but we did notice that it struggled to find focus when contrast was low or light was limited. The NX1000 makes use of contrast detection autofocus, with the ability to hone in on a large area or a smaller point. Like most contrast detection systems, it was quite accurate when it was able to find focus.

In terms of speed the NX1000 compares well to most mirrorless cameras. It's certainly not on the same level as the Olympus E-M5, but it's serviceable quick in most situations. Even shooting with the 85mm f/1.4 lens, we found it was able to lock onto the focus point that we wanted more times than not with reasonable speed.

Features

The NX1000 is the entry point into Samsung's line of interchangeable lens cameras. The NX series cameras all share some basic features, as well as the same 20.3-megapixel CMOS image sensor. The NX1000 keeps most of the features of the higher end NX cameras (8fps burst shooting, full manual control, and WiFi connectivity), without giving up much. This puts a lot of quality into a compact body at a reasonable price point of $699.99 with its 20-50mm kit lens. The Samsung sits at an extremely competitive point in the market, however, so it doesn't offer much that its competitors from Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, Canon, and Nikon don't at this and lower prices.

Recording Options

The Samsung NX1000 allows users to record in 1080/30p video, but also allows for 720p, standard definition, and 320x240 resolution. There's also the odd anomorphic 2.35:1 resolution of 1920x810, but it's not of much use. Find out how the performed in our video image quality test./r:link_to_content

Video Controls

When recording video, users can select from various exposure control modes, allowing you to adjust aperture, shutter speed, or both. You are limited when adjusting exposure in this way, as you can't drop shutter speed below 1/30th of a second. Aperture is also limited, but it's lens dependent.

Auto Controls

When shooting video, users can make use of the same "picture wizard" controls as in stills, with the same level of adjustment. You can also adjust exposure compensation, increasing or decreasing scene brightness at will.

Focus

Focus on the Samsung NX1000 is achieved either manually or with the camera's continuous autofocus feature. We found the continuous focus to be fairly accurate, but also very responsive. This meant that the camera was often hunting through a scene after just the slightest movement toward or away from the subject.

Audio Features

The Samsung NX1000 features a built-in stereo microphone, though there's not much adjustment possible with it. The camera does feature a full hot shoe, which will allow you to attach Samsung's external microphone. The external mic also comes with a built-in headphone jack. It's an expensive solution for higher quality audio, however.

Mic Photo

Conclusion

The Samsung NX1000 is the entry level model in the Korean giant's interchangeable lens model lineup. Sporting the same image sensor as the higher end NX200 and NX20, the NX1000 offers much of what the higher end models do, but at a kit price of just $699.99.

In testing we found the NX1000 produced very good sharpness, solid dynamic range, and offered image quality that was quite good right up to ISO 3200. The NX1000 also managed to capture shots at up to 8 frames per second, though the buffer is more limited than it was on the higher NX-series cameras.

The NX1000 did struggle in some key areas, namely in color accuracy and white balance. We found the custom white balance was acceptable, but the automatic white balance system was inconsistent and slightly off in many of our sample shots. These can be overcome by shooting RAW images, but that will also bog down the system. With the camera practically shutting down while it processes images, that can degrade performance severely.

Samsung have billed the NX1000 as a smart, connected camera. It certainly can make use of its connectivity features, but we only found them occasionally useful. More impressive was the amount of features Samsung gleaned from the high-end NX20 while keeping the price under $1000.

The NX1000 offers a lot for that price—but so do many of the cameras in this part of the market. Ultimately, we feel cameras like the Sony NEX-F3 offer more for less money, but the NX1000 offers a solid combination of size, speed, low light performance, and sharpness with a solid menu system. It's worth a look if you're shopping here, but we feel there are slightly better values to be had.

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