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Samsung NX500 Hands-On Preview

Ben Andrews goes hands-on with the new Samsung NX500 - with a 28.2 megapixel APS-C BSI CMOS sensor, and 4K video recording, could this be the bargain mirrorless camera of the year?

|  NX500 in Mirrorless Cameras
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Samsung NX500 01 Front

Last year we reviewed Samsung’s flagship camera, the Samsung NX1. We were extremely impressed by its performance, features and image quality, but there was one major drawback: it sure is bulky for a mirrorless camera. If only the best bits of the NX1 could be had in a smaller package? Enter the NX500.

Samsung NX500 Features

Samsung NX500 03 Front Left Lens Extended

At first glance the rangefinder-style NX500 seems to have little in common with the beefy NX1 DSLR lookalike. But dig deeper and the two cameras have a lot in common. The NX500 inherits the same 28.2 megapixel back-side illuminated APS-C sensor for increased light sensitivity and lower noise from its ISO100-25,600 range (expandable to ISO51,200).

Autofocussing capabilities should be identical too, as the NX500 gets the same NX AF System III as the NX1. This hybrid focus technology combines 205 phase-detection AF points (of which 153 are the more sensitive cross-type) with a further 209 contrast-detection points which cover an impressive 90% of the image sensor.

Samsung NX500 11 Screen Up

Samsung NX500 Key Features

  • 28.2 megapixel back-side illuminated APS-C sensor
  • ISO100-25,600 (expandable to ISO51,200)
  • 9fps continuous shooting
  • 1/6000-sec max shutter speed
  • 4K & UHD video with H.265 compression
  • Hybrid autofocus, 414 total AF points, 90% frame coverage
  • 0.055 max autofocus speed
  • 3.0” 1036-dot Super AMOLED display
  • Flip-up screen, touch sensitive
  • Wi-Fi with NFC pairing
  • Bluetooth
  • Separate hot-shoe flash module included

Sounds great on paper, and our initial testing reveals impressive real-world AF performance too, as the NX500 focusses almost instantly in most lighting conditions. Only in very dim environments where the AF-assist lamp is required can the camera occasionally need a second or so to find its mark. Watch out for our full review to see whether we can match Samsung’s quoted 0.055-second autofocus time for the NX500.

Samsung NX500 14 Lens Off

Keen videographers will also love the NX500’s ability to shoot true 4K video (4096x2160 resolution) at 24fps and capture Ultra HD footage at 3840x2160/30fps. These are again the same stats as you’ll find with the NX1, and the NX500 also uses the new HEVC H.265 video codec that’s touted as consuming around half the file space as videos encoded in a conventional H.264 format. However, the NX500 lacks the NX1’s ability to output uncompressed 4K video via HDMI.

Samsung NX500 09 Back

The two cameras also differ in their processing power. The NX500’s DRIMe Vs processor will allow a maximum 9fps continuous shooting speed, compared to the NX1’s 15fps. 9fps certainly isn’t shabby for such a compact mirrorless camera, but it’s not fast enough to worry the 11fps ability of the NX500’s main rival in this sector, the Sony α6000.

Samsung has the edge on features though. Fast 802.11n Wi-Fi with NFC pairing is present for easy image sharing and remote camera control, but the NX500 also adds Bluetooth to the mix for even more convenient connectivity.

Samsung NX500 08 Battery Compartment

And then there’s the SAS – Samsung Auto Shot – mode. This takes a typical subject-tracking autofocus system and enhances it to track two separate moving objects in frame, such as a ball travelling towards a moving bat or racket. The NX500 then detects the precise moment at which bat hits ball and snaps the perfect action shot. Impressive stuff, and something we’ll be putting through its paces in our full review.

Samsung NX500 10 Screen Out

Another nifty feature is the NX500 flip-up 3.0” screen, designed to make snapping a selfie a cinch. It’s touch-sensitive too, with great responsiveness that ensures you can pinpoint your preferred focus and exposure points with ease. The screen’s 1036-dot resolution is also impressively high, whilst the Super AMOLED display technology provides superb colour vibrancy and excellent black depth. Viewing angles are also outstanding and there’s enough brightness to overcome all but direct sunlight.

A good thing, as in an effort to keep the NX500 as compact as possible, there’s no electronic viewfinder. Samsung has also done away with a built-in flash, but you do get a cute colour-coordinated hot-shoe mounted flash module included with the camera that’s capable of a GN8 power rating.

Samsung NX500 12 Flash Attached Front

Samsung has gone to great lengths to ensure that the NX500’s compactness doesn’t compromise ergonomics. We found the pronounced front grip to be comfortable to grasp, even for those with large hands, and its leather-like covering adds a touch of class. There’s also a good-sized thumb rest on the back, yet Samsung has still managed to fit a command dial in alongside it.

Samsung NX500 06 Top Right

You’ll also find a second command dial nestled into the brushed metal top panel, plus two customisable function buttons, one on the rear panel, and a second located on the side of the kit lens. Add the dedicated ISO button and you’ve got a level of manual control that shames many entry-level DSLRs.

Samsung NX500 02 Front Left

That’s no mean feat given the NX500’s compactness. It’s just 119.5 x 63.6 x 42.4mm and weighs in at 341g, body only, with battery and memory card. This rises to 450g when the 16-50mm stabilised kit lens is attached, but that’s still 100g lighter than an empty NX1 body and makes the NX500 light enough to slip comfortably into a jacket pocket.

The NX500 is available in the white finish of our test sample, plus more traditional black and brown designs. Expect to pay £599/$799 for the 16-50mm lens kit.

Samsung NX500 Specifications

ManufacturerSamsung
Image Sensor
Pixels28Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)6480
Pixels (H)4320
Sensor TypeBack-lit CMOS (B.S.I.)
Sensor SizeAPS-C
Sensor Size (width)No Data
Sensor Size (height)No Data
Aspect Ratio
  • 3:2
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution1036
Touch ScreenYes
Focusing
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
  • Centre
  • Touch AF
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/6000sec
Shutter speeds longest30sec
Bulb modeYes
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Scene modes
  • Program Variable
Metering
  • Multi Pattern
ISO sensitivity100 - 51200
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Flash
Exposure Comp+/-5
Viewfinder
Viewfinder ResolutionNo Data
MagnificationNo Data
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting9fps
Video
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 4K
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
Video FPS4K 24fps, UHD 30fps, FullHD 60/50/30/25/24fps
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationNo
Interface
HDMIYes
USBUSB 2
Wi-FiYes
Storage
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery Type1130mAh Lithium-Ion
Battery Life (CIPA rating)370shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsiLauncher, Power Media Player, Samsung Movie Converter, Samsung Raw Converter, Samsung DNG converter
Dimensions
Weight341g
Width119.5mm
Height63.6mm
Depth42.4mm

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Photographs taken using the NX500

Stalker CastleDark Hair BeautyNatureWinter natureEmerald BackwashNatureOld timeold timeOld mountain farmBirdLandscapeNatureDog potraitReflections

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Comments


dannyr 11 46 United Kingdom
18 Mar 2015 2:23PM
I've never really taken to the design of the smaller Samsung NX cameras, I wish they would produce a more GX7 style camera i.e compact but with flash and built in viewfinder.
18 Mar 2015 10:40PM
It is a good looking mirrorless camera, especially with the brown leatherette. However I am more concerned about the performance of the sensor. Having the Pentax K20D with the Samsung sensor, it is very disappointing above 800ISO, along with a very poor dynamic range. Early reviews say this 28MP sensor is good up to 2000ISO, but then struggles.
Samsung may be catching up, but even the Sony 16mp sensor for APS-C still is the benchmark when it comes to low light and dynamic range, even if it has "inferior" resolution.
19 Mar 2015 9:42AM
Looks like camera makers have the same propensity for particular type or size of their machines to be excellent while others just so-so. For example, "small" BMW series 528 is classic, while similarly sized Mercedes does not attract such a title.

Same here - Samsung cameras in mobile phones are very impressive indeed, compacts do not make a splash, and APS mirrorless are not much visible on the market. Sure, image from the cameras will be impressively good (as from about any other mirrorless), but is there really much character to the thing? Anything to write home about except cheap looking silver (plastic?) top over impractical snow white body? Not a bad camera maybe, but not the one that comes close to the leade Olympus seems to be.

Anyone is welcome to disagree of course - appearance is matter of personal taste. I just don't like the looks. That's it!

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