This is it. This is the one. I’ve found the one! Actually, the one found me! The Samsung NX1. If you’ve been holding out on investing in the mirrorless market because of your trepidations as far as performance as compared to traditional DSLRs, now’s the time to let go. It’s been exactly a year since Samsung invited me into their Imagelogger program, and in that short year, everything changed. I mean everything. I will admit, at first, it was an excuse to get out and create with new tools and have fun doing it. It started a little over a year ago with the NX300, and every few months, we graduate to a new camera and new lenses. We went to the NXMini, then the NX30, then the NX3000, and with each subsequent step, I find myself using my trusty Nikon gear less and less and less and less. Little did I expect that in a year’s time, they would be taking over my entire photographic arsenal, causing me to all but abandon my Nikon equipment (and once I get a wireless strobe system worked out for this thing for the my architectural work, my bread and butter, that’ll make the transition complete). But here’s a quick account of my first month with this 28 megapixel beast, the Samsung NX1.
The NX1 showed up at my door just in time for Thanksgiving weekend, which was perfect as my family and I decided to do something a bit different this year, and took a road trip to spend the holiday out in Sedona, Arizona. Not a bad place to properly break in what Outdoor Photographer calls "our choice for the top APS-C mirrorless camera for nature photography” in its December issue, and what Digital Trends is claiming "Our favorite camera of 2014 isn't a Canon, Nikon or Sony, it's Samsung's NX1.”
The first thing I noticed when I took it out of the box was the build. It felt like a solid piece of machinery, carefully sculpted from a chunk of magnesium alloy. And it was beautiful. As soon as I put my hands on the NX1, I had no problem getting acquainted with the layout and the controls. They’ve definitely done their homework and made this thing as intuitive as humanly possible. The insanely user friendly menu system doesn’t hurt either!! And the fact that this is my first dust and splash proof camera made me very happy as I spend a lot of my time in the outdoors. This thing simply just feels good to hold.
The second thing I noticed upon my first few shots was the auto-focus. Yes, that comes as no surprise seeing as how it has an ungodly insane amount of autofocus points. I’m not going to use this post to go through all the technical brouhaha, that’s everywhere and anywhere else, but I will say, with a sensor that’s practically covered edge to edge with autofocus points, the results are immediately noticeable. For comparison’s sakes, while the Canon 7D Mark III has 65, the NX1 has over 200. Yup. That’s no typo. 205 to be exact. So yeah…this thing is quick! I will say that when I first used a few of the NX lenses, it did hunt for a few seconds, but timely firmware updates quickly fixed any of those issues. The auto-focus on all the lenses are now smooth like butter and faster than any camera I’ve had to date.
The third thing I noticed was the color rendering. Spot on! The vibrancy and the warmth and accuracy of what I was capturing as compared to what I was seeing was wonderful. It made using this camera such a joy, giving me the confidence in knowing that I wasn’t going to have to do much post processing to realize my vision. Everything looked the way I wanted it to look and, as any photographer will tell you, there’s no better feeling.
The fourth thing I noticed was another bit made possible by more of that technical stuffs…the BSI, or back-side illuminated sensor. Basically, because the entire front side of the sensor is free of any obstructions, for the first time in an APS-C sensor camera, the entire face of the sensor is available to collect light. What the heck does this mean? Low noise, and great detail in shadows in your images is what that means. Not to mention being able to shoot in very little light at high ISOs. I mean, I’d cringe whenever I had to push the iso past 1600 or so on my Nikon D7000, hoping in the back of my mind that I renewed my noise-reduction software license, but with this thing, I’m jumping up to iso2500, or even 3000 without even flinching! Not only that, I was truly blown away by its ability to focus in insanely low light situations. The mix of the sensor and a crazy looking auto-focus assist light that is based on patterns that almost look like a bar-code, allowing the camera to better detect contrast, are almost infallible.
The part of this camera that I haven’t yet fully tested is the highly touted 4k video capabilities. I’ll make another post about that soon as I’m currently working on some videos with it so will have a better grasp on it all. I will say that the few moving images I’ve pulled from this thing, coupled with the focusing system, have me confident enough to be using it as my main camera on an upcoming paid video gig. One thing that really impressed me was the inclusion of both a headphone jack as well as mic jack, something not quite found in most other video-capable DSLR style cameras. And that swivel screen is going to come in handy for those low menacing angles without ending up with a kink in my neck!
Also worth mentioning is something that Samsung has taken and run with...the wireless connectivity. Their SMART features are incredible. I was able to transfer an image to my phone, edit it, and post it on Facebook, Google+, and Instagram, as well as email the image to my family in the field in Sedona, all within less than 2 minutes. It was crazy. Try that with your DSLR.
So I can’t say that when I was invited into the Samsung Imagelogger program, I had any idea this was coming. I thought it’d be a few good cameras and some fun and some new friends and some fresh inspiration. Little did I know I’d be part of a group and working with a company that is innovating beyond all other traditional camera manufacturers. Not only that, but they’re actually listening to us to make their products even better, and, to my complete joy, it was apparent in a recent firmware update that helped back-button focusing photographers transition to the camera seamlessly. We gave our feedback and within less than two weeks, an update was ready. That’s unheard of! Needless to say, Samsung has gone and done it…they’ve accomplished their mission, and got me to Ditch The DSLR. And once I get one of their new Premium S-Series lenses in my hands? Fuggggeeddabbbadittt!
Ok, so now all the words and things out of the way, here are some of my favorite images from my first month with the
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