Review: Samsung NX300

One of the more memorable gadgets from our time at CES earlier in the year was Samsung’s retrolicious NX300, a camera that brought with it a style out of yesteryear and blended it with technology from today. Now that it’s available, we’ve spent more time to see what this mirrorless is really made of.

Features

Continuing with Samsung’s compact interchangeable range, the NX300 brings with it technology we’ve seen before in past models, but refines the build and design to make the camera experience better and easier to master.

The casing is made from a combination of metal and plastic, with the design providing a noticeable protruded grip for the right hand to take hold of.

In the NX300, Samsung has provided a 20.3 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor supporting ISO ranges from 100 to 25600, with auto-focus working with a total of 105 points in phase detection mode, or 247 when using contrast auto focus.

Images can be shot in both JPEG and RAW, with up to 8.6 frames per second for either mode, though the drive mode exists in either single frame, continuous, self-timed, bracketed, or a burst mode that drops the quality down to 5 megapixel images.

Video is included too, with Full HD 1920×1080 offered by default, with 3D’s 1920×810 used when a 3D lens is attached, and 720p available also.

A flash isn’t included in the body of the camera, but a small one that can be attached to a hot-shoe mount on the camera is included in the box. That said, with the hot-shoe mount, you can always attach any flash head.

Controlling the camera is handled through one of three ways: touchscreen, physical controls on the back of the camera, and Samsung’s “i-Function” buttons the company has been including in many of its lenses for years.

Two control dials are located up top, allowing you to change settings such as aperture or shutter speed for the small black wheel or even zoom into images, with the right control dial useful for changing camera modes.

There’s the typical range of manual modes – P, S, A, M – as well as an auto mode, i-Function specific mode, dedicated WiFi mode, and then several smart modes for creative photography, night mode, fireworks, macro, and more.

That touchscreen measures 3.3 inches and uses AMOLED technology, a well as a vertical vari-angle screen, meaning it can be pulled out to look down on, or even positioned at an angle to be seen from below. It’s not a full 90 degree angle for viewing from below, however.

Wireless technology is included, as this is one of Samsung’s Smart Cameras – Smart Camera 2.0, in fact – so you’ll find 802.11 b/g/n, with Near-Field Communication (NFC) built into the body to make the handshake between wireless devices – smartphone and camera, or tablet and camera – easy as pie.

The battery is an 1130mAh brick, and charge can be taken through the microUSB port on the side, meaning there is no external battery charger needed.

An HDMI port can also be found on the right side under the same flap the microUSB port is found under.

A copy of Adobe’s Lightroom is bundled in the box.

Performance

Available in three colours, Samsung’s NX300 takes a stab at remaking its interchangeable models into something a little more classic, with a metal body that features a leather look.

In a way, it’s like looking at an interpretation of what old camera would have evolved like today, with your choice of either black, brown, or white plastic leather finishes, making the old new again, essentially.

In the hands, this is one of Samsung’s better set of ergonomics yet, providing a comfortable traditional grip (left hand under the camera, body flat against the pinky finger line with thumb and fore-finger resting against the lens).

While there’s no viewfinder, you will find a massive 3 inch LCD able to be pulled out from the body with some vari-angle control.

It’s not as versatile as the tilting screens Canon uses, with only vertical control, but it means at least that you can shoot images from above or below the camera by setting up the screen to be slightly angled.

An upside to this system is that the screen is one of those nifty touchscreens Samsung is uber fond of, meaning you can touch to focus, sort through the menus quickly, and use an onscreen keyboard for typing things in that draws inspiration from Samsung’s Android phones which is so much more responsive than previous Samsung cameras.

Why would you want to type things?

Because this camera supports WiFi, allowing you to jump onto a hotspot and send pictures over email, Facebook, SkyDrive, or video over YouTube. We wish there were more apps available, and are sure social networks are probably missing that you might want to use, but that’s where your phone will come in.

Samsung has made apps available that make it possible for a handset to connect to the camera directly and grab the images, sharing them through the phone.

Better, if you have a Near-Field enabled smartphone, you can start this up using this feature. In fairness, we had more luck just downloading the app and connecting than starting the process with NFC on either the HTC One or Samsung Galaxy S4, but you might have better luck.

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