Last year, Samsung released the Galaxy Camera, its first-ever compact to feature an Android operating system. In June of this year, the electronics giant took this concept one step further by merging a tablet-sized touchscreen with a D-SLR-style CSC body to create, what it calls, the first connected Compact System Camera. Offering Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G connectivity, as well as utilising the Android v4.2 Jelly Bean Operating System, on paper, the Galaxy NX allows photographers to share their images with the rest of the world straight from the camera, just moments after taking the shot.
With its agenda clearly set, we can’t help but wonder, is it actually any good? Well, we got hold of a production sample to find out...
Features & build
Despite being a tablet/camera hybrid, the Galaxy NX is still considered part of Samsung’s NX range of cameras, which means that just like its non-connected siblings it features an NX lens mount on the front, making it compatible with Samsung’s range of CSC lenses. Rather than using a contrast-detect autofocus system like some other CSCs, Samsung has opted – quite fittingly – to include a hybrid AF system which utilises both Phase- and Contrast-detect sensors built directly onto the image chip for more accurate AF.
Directly behind the lens there’s a 20.3Mp APS-C sized sensor that works alongside a DRIMe IV Image Signal Processor to offer a continuous burst shooting rate of up to 8.6fps. ISO ranges from 100-25,600, while the shutter speed spans 30-1/6000sec, as well as offering a Bulb mode.
Also hidden away inside there’s a Quad Core 1.6GHz Processor, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of built-in memory to make space for all your photos and downloadable apps; though, this can also be further expanded to 64GB by inserting a Micro SD card.
Flipping the device over reveals a giant 4.77in, 921k-dotscreen that engulfs the back of the camera, while sitting directly above it there’s a built-in Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) with a standard hotshoe mount on top for attaching peripheral devices, such as flashguns.
Performance & Handling
In the hand the Galaxy NX feels comfortable and well-balanced, with a nice chunky grip offering plenty of purchase. This is further complemented by a grippy rubberised coating and protruding thumbrest on the rear. In terms of aesthetics, it bears a striking resemblance to its NX20 sibling – albeit slightly larger in size – and looking at the Galaxy NX head on you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for a ‘regular’ CSC. It’s not until you flip the device over that you notice the large screen and lack of conventional buttons and dials.
The majority of the camera settings are altered via the touchscreen, though there’s also a physical command dial on the top plate and within thumb reach that can be used to navigate the options. This dial doubles up as a button too, just by pushing it forward, allowing you to quickly confirm your changes. In reality, though, we found using the touchscreen much quicker, and it provided us with a bright and sharp display, which was great for reviewing our images.
For the majority of testing, the AF system proved itself to be sprightly and accurate, locking-on to subjects with little fuss even in low-light conditions thanks to its bright AF-assist lamp helping to illuminate the way.
Switching the camera to High Speed Continuous shooting, we were able to capture five RAW images at 8.6fps before hitting the buffer, which took 5.8secs to write to memory. Performance improved significantly when shooting in Large Fine JPEG, though, allowing us to snap off 18 shots before the buffer slowed the pace, and taking 4.5secs to write.
Although for the most part the Galaxy NX put in an admirable performance, our biggest gripe has to be the start-up time. Once the device is completely powered down, turning it back on again and taking a shot took us a painful 24secs. There’s always the option to put the camera to ‘sleep’ by tapping the power button, though this still took it 3.4secs to wake up and start shooting, which became frustrating over time.
Value for Money
The Galaxy NX comes priced at£1299 with the 18-55mm kit lens, or £1199 body only. With it being the first of its kind, it’s difficult to make a direct comparison, though within this price range it’s worth considering the Canon EOS 70D (£1199 with 18-55mm lens), which features a 20.2Mp APS-C sensor, 7fps burst shooting and Wi-Fi connectivity. However, The Galaxy NX’s Android OS and 4.77in monitor may just be enough to sway the vote in its favour.
We take our hats off to Samsung for taking such a bold step with the Galaxy NX. Despite a few performance niggles, it put in an admirable performance during testing and allowed us to capture some stunning images. If you’re looking for a camera that allows you to quickly capture and share photos with friends and family via social networks, then the Galaxy NX is certainly worth considering – providing you can stomach the £1299 price tag.
- Street price: £369 (Secondhand price as of July 2016)
- Resolution: 20.3Mp (5472x3648px)
- Sensor: APS-C
- ISO Range: 100-25,600
- Shutter range: 30-1/6000sec & bulb
- Viewfinder: SVGA EVF (800x600px)
- Monitor: 4.77in, 921k-dot LCD touchscreen
- Write Speeds: 1.8sec RAW, 0.4sec JPEG
- Storage: 16GB internal, Micro SD
- Dimensions: 136.5x101.2x125mm
- Weight: 750g
- Visit: www.samsung.com/uk
This review was first published in the November 2013 issue of Digital Photo - download back issues here.