The Samsung Galaxy NX marries the outstanding photographical prowess of the Samsung NX camera line with the connectivity and organizational power of the Galaxy S4. While this isn’t Samsung’s first attempt at fusing these two concepts, it definitely is their most refined—if not expensive—creation.
First impressions with the Galaxy NX are very positive with superb fit, finish and build quality. Its relatively minimal inputs may seem spartan to a seasoned photographer but the controls that are present are intuitive and functional, which will be attractive to amateur photographers. In addition, the 4.8-inch capacitive touch screen has supplanted all of the controls normally found on the rear and make navigation through all of the features very easy to use.
Under the hood, the NX is loaded with a 20.3-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and DRIMe IV image processor, and the 1.6GHz quad-core Pega-Q chipset that keeps Android 4.2.2 zipping along.
The enlarged grip helps keep your thumb from accidentally hitting the screen while also providing ample room for a long lasting battery. We were impressed by the battery life, which suffered minimal drain from having to standby as a full-fledged Android device. We would have preferred a more tactile or “clicky” shutter button and the omission of the electronic viewfinder as the responsiveness main display makes the former all but unnecessary—perhaps this could lower the price in future variants as well.
Software and Features
Although it looks like a standard EVF equipped mirrorless camera, the NX is capable of acting as a full fledged android device, telephony and all. With the guts of a smartphone, the Galaxy NX provides unparalleled connectivity for a camera while also giving users full access to the slew of Android apps. This means you get all the power of editing and sharing tools found in a smartphone coupled with the photo quality of a interchangeable lens, full sensor camera.
If you are familiar with Samsung’s TouchWiz interface or just Android phones in general, you will immediately appreciate the ability to browse and share your photos just as you would on your smartphone. This familiarity makes it easy to use the smart modes as well which have clear illustration and useful tool tips:
In addition to gallery style browsing and sharing, you can use Android photography apps to take, edit and manage photos. I was pleased to see that the physical shutter release was compatible with apps like CameraAce, which made it very natural to use the manual focus and zoom ring when composing a photo. However, certain apps that don’t employ the default camera (like Instagram) did not adopt this feature and force you to use the onscreen shutter button, which makes it very difficult to accurately frame your subject and even more baffling was that Instagram seemed to disallow auto focus, regardless of zoom, forcing you to use manual focus instead. This appears to be an app-side issue but if Samsung could find a way to fix this, I’m sure it would make people far less frustrated when trying to maximize their experience on such a popular app.
Image Quality and Performance
The overall quality of photos was excellent thanks to the 20.3MP APS-C CMOS Sensor. The NX performed admirably at general purpose photography (what we do most), and excelled at taking product images in natural lighting. The included 18-55mm OIS lens was very well suited for closeup and mid distance work.
Shutter lag was minimal and the autofocus was very fast and for the most part accurate—you could guide it by tapping on the display, a great feature afforded by the 4.8-inch display. When switching to manual focus mode, there is a focus assist that increases zoom to 5x while turning the focus ring, giving you the ability to fine tune your focus with ease.
We were impressed with the quality of the 1080p video footage and the microphone provided very serviceable audio. In addition, there is a “multi motion” setting which gives you 3 additional slow-mo modes (1/8, 1/4 and 1/2 speed).
It’s safe to say that the Samsung Galaxy NX is the best Android powered camera hands down. It is a versatile tool capable of tackling everything from macro, landscape, portrait and even slow motion videography. The best part is that its solid optics and sensor are further leveraged by the power of Android, allowing a plethora of built in shooting options ranging from multi-exposure composting to nighttime long exposure.
The Galaxy NX’s hardware and performance inspire confidence and familiarity to seasoned photographers and Android veterans alike. The connectivity makes it a cinch to share photos and upload them to the cloud or one’s computer for management. There may be some quibbles such as the app integration and manual focus, but the only one that I see actually affecting the adoption of this product is the price. Priced at a tad over $1400 (via Amazon), the Galaxy NX is likely out of the budget of a casual or even amateur photographer/Android enthusiast while a professional would be better served buying a new lens or saving up for a professional DSLR. However, with more affordable units in the future, Samsung could very well lead the charge into seamless integration of Android software in photo and video hardware.
- Excellent photo and video quality
- Fast autofocus
- Great battery life
- Full Performance/Featured Android
- Lofty price tag
- App compatibility issues