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Samsung NX1, the best APSC mirrorless? My humble observation

Tuckloong Pioneer 14012 points
10/02/2015 | 04:14:37

Samsung NX 1

Introduction

The Samsung NX1 was well received during its launch. This was dubbed the perfect flagship that encompassed all of Samsung's latest technology and innovations. Does it live up to its billing as the best APSC mirrorless? Stay tune in the next few weeks to find out as the NX1 is put through a series of test.

Thaipusam 2015

 

James_Ng
  • Tuckloong Pioneer 14012 points
    15/02/2015 | 03:28:19

    Low light AF

    ISO 6400, f2.8 1/100

    The Samsung NX1 focuses well in low light conditions. AF is fast and accurate in SAF mode with a relatively big Focus Area selected.

    ISO 6400, f2.8 1/40 OIS on

    In extreme cases of low light and very low contrast, the green AF assist light kicked in. However, it took 2-3 seconds for the camera to lock on to the gun correctly. There was a shot out of a total of 3 that was out of focus too. even though the AF indicator lighted green with a good focus lock. Perhaps laser AF technology may be utilised in future cameras to address this aspect and improve the focusing performance and accuracy in such situations.

  • Tuckloong Pioneer 14012 points
    15/02/2015 | 04:25:27

    AF tracking

    Image sequence (CAF, Multi point, 15fps, ISO 400, 1/250, f6.3 50mm)

    In close quarter situation (<5m in distance), the NX1 performed admirably. Tracking succes was found to be around 40% in 15fps and around 60% at lower frame rates. 

  • Tuckloong Pioneer 14012 points
    15/02/2015 | 04:46:02

    AF shift

    Image sequence (CAF, Multi point, 15fps, ISO 400, 1/250, f5.6 50mm)

    As you can see from the image sequence, the AF shifted from one monkey to the next and forth during the high speed sequential capture. Perhaps, its timely for AF customisation to allow tracking based on the selected subject. This will be very useful for close contact sports such as soccer, rugby etc.

  • Tuckloong Pioneer 14012 points
    15/02/2015 | 08:06:40

    Dynamic Range

    ISO 100, f16, 20, multiple image Panorama

    ISO 100, f16, 30s

    ISO 100, f16, 30s

    ISO 100, f22, 30s

    ISO 3200, f8, 1/15

    As you can see, the NX1 raw files have a good dynamic range for most situations. However, when the picture was exposed using ETTR, one tend to notice that the decorations are overexposed and its near impossible to recover any details. Hence, its better to expose for the highlights and try to recover from the shadow areas.

    ISO 100, f16 1/200

    After exposing for the highlights and recovering from the shadow areas, noise became an issue that we needed to be addressed. Hence, ISO noise reduction shall be discussed in the next installment.

  • Tuckloong Pioneer 14012 points
    15/02/2015 | 14:44:27

    High ISO testing and noise reduction

    ISO 6400, 1/125 f5.6

    ISO 800 f4 1/20 OIS on

    ISO 1600 f4, 1/40

    ISO 3200 f4 1/80

    Pictures from the Samsung NX1 is generally good below ISO 1600, noise can be easily seen from ISO 3200 onwards and this requires appropriate noise reduction strategy and protocol to be optimised and implemented in the workflow to harness the true potential of this fabulous camera.

  • Tuckloong Pioneer 14012 points
    15/02/2015 | 15:03:25

    Noise reduction (comparing LR and Define 2)

    With the in camera noise reduction turned off, we shall explore the pros and cons of using the noise reduction function within Lightroom and also with Define 2.

    ISO 800 (f2, 1/8, OIS on)

    No noise reduction applied

    LR (+30 for both noise and color, 50% details)

    Define 2 on auto setting

    Final versoin

     

     

     

  • Tuckloong Pioneer 14012 points
    15/02/2015 | 15:09:33

    ISO 1600 (f2, 1/20 OIS on)

    No noise reduction applied

    LR

    Define 2

    Final Version

  • Tuckloong Pioneer 14012 points
    15/02/2015 | 15:18:32

    ISO 3200 (f2, 1/30)

    No noise reduction applied

    LR

    Define 2

    Final Version

  • Tuckloong Pioneer 14012 points
    15/02/2015 | 15:33:21

    ISO 6400 (f2, 1/40)

    No noise reduction applied

    LR

    Define 2

    Final Version

    From this simple test, it seems a lot easier to apply define 2 in auto setting rather than fine tuning in Lightroom. If you are using lightroom, details do get lost as you apply higher and higher noise redcution values. In the ISO 6400 final version, one can notice how the details were lost in the lower left quandrant in the park when we compare that to lower ISO used samples. As such, a better optimisation is required for ISO 3200 onwards to preserve details while reducing the noise at the same time. Do experiment to find the best workflow and practices when ISO values greater than 3200 is routinely used, especially sports and events photography. 

  • Tuckloong Pioneer 14012 points
    19/02/2015 | 07:28:50 edited February 2015

    AWB

    Generally the AWB setting for the NX1 performs really well in most situations. In this mixed lighting/ colored lighting test, the result was surprisingly pleasing. The camera is producing pleasant skin tones with a slight yellowish cast.  

     

  • Tuckloong Pioneer 14012 points
    19/02/2015 | 07:55:26

    Flash testing

    Test environment

    without flash

    Pop up flash

    External flash

    TTL flash outputs were nicely controlled with both the pop up and external flash such as the SEF580A. However, some professionals and macro shooters would certainly wish to control the output of the pop up flash to balance their picture manaully to achieve their desired effect.  

     

     

  • Tuckloong Pioneer 14012 points
    19/02/2015 | 08:47:25 edited February 2015

    Studio testing

    Makeshift studio set up

     

    Fashion Test

    Model: Philae/ Basic Models 

    Makeup/ Hair: Sharon Pow

    Wardrobe/ Fashion Styling: Gilda Su

    Blue Screen Test

    The NX1 performed reaonably well in a studio setting. These are some of the areas in which improvements can be done to make it a better camera and a top choice for every fashion, product and commercial photographers

    1. Framing mode

    Response time for exposure correction can be improved so the photographer can visualise the subject, especially under modeling light, to check framing and focus quickly before pressing the shutter.

    2. App for wifi tethering

    A better app for wifi tethering is needed so files (eg raw file format) can be transferred from the NX1 to mobile device for approval by art directors and clients. Better wifi(esp AC standard) transfer stability is needed.

    3. Wired tethering

    USB 3.0 transfers often get disconnected after a few pictures. Improvement must be implemented to give a better wired tethering experience

    4. AF in low light/low contrast

    AF does hunts in a studio environment. Even with the AF assist light, the NX1 took an unusually long time to focus in some situation.

  • Tuckloong Pioneer 14012 points
    19/02/2015 | 16:34:51

    Conclusion

    The Samsung NX1 isnt the perfect camera at the moment. However, it surely will become one through the constant feedback and firmware updates.  The NX1 will perform very well in 99% of the situation, producing wondeful pictures time after time. Photographers need to optimise and customise their workflow to harness the true potential of the NX1. Now, someone please pass me the NX500 for review next.

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