Samsung Galaxy NX Overview

If you crave the connectivity offered by the Samsung Galaxy Camera but don't want to sacrifice image quality or photo capabilities, you are the poster child for the Samsung Galaxy NX. With built-in 3G/4G LTE and Wi-Fi, Samsung envisions it as the "always connected" camera, but really, I'd be happy with just connected enough -- as I suspect many of the people interested in this camera would be -- but which most manufacturers still haven't mastered. And from a connectedness standpoint, the Galaxy NX does everything but make calls.
And it really does seem like the best of all possible worlds for more advanced photographers. It incorporates the same sensor as the NX300, complete with hybrid phase-detection/contrast autofocus systems, the same electronic viewfinder as the NX20, and it supports a reasonable selection of fast and/or inexpensive lenses that makes it flexible for a variety of users. The system could use at least one fast telephoto zoom, however.
Though it uses a 1.6GHz quad-core processor, Samsung supplements it with the same DRIMe IV imaging processor as in the NX300. (It also has 16GB built-in memory.) That should provide speedier image processing than on the Galaxy Camera. It seems like Samsung has learned some lessons from the earlier model as well. The huge battery and grip with a thumb rest on the back contrasts with the Galaxy Camera's relatively poor battery life and lack of place for your right thumb.
I'm still not completely sold on the idea of Android-driven cameras, but Android, combined with Samsung's willingness to open-source its camera API really opens up the potential of the camera in ways I can't begin to imagine.

Samsung Galaxy NX photos (pictures)

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Another potential downside is the lack of physical controls. While a chunk of potential buyers for this camera will just be looking for APS-C-quality photos and videos, another group -- say, people like me who need a high-quality camera for live-blogging and event photography -- really, really like our physical controls, and the i-Function design only partly mitigates their absence. I have to say, though, this is the first instance in which the i-Function architecture makes a lot of sense and finally seems like a strategic move on Samsung's part. In previous models, which do have physical controls, it always seemed so superfluous.
One downside: it's really big. Of course, that's inescapable given the 4.8-inch LCD, APS-C sensor, and built-in EVF. (Plus, it's annoying that for such a big camera it uses microSD cards, and that they're inconveniently located in the battery compartment.) Also, many of Samsung's best lenses are relatively big and heavy, given that ILCs were intended to be smaller than dSLRs. But it can act as a hotspot, which makes the idea of toting it around it a little more palatable, at least for pros. One question I have is what happens to performance when you use the camera and the hotspot simultaneously. If you can.
It also remains to be seen what kind of integration off-the-shelf Android apps have with the camera. As my review-twin Josh Goldman discovered while testing the Galaxy Camera, they vary with respect to how they operate. For example, most camera apps use some sort of pinch-based zooming; what happens when they encounter a mechanical zoom lens? The units we got to play with weren't yet cell-connected.
Here's some of the competition:
 Fujifilm X-E1Olympus OM-D E-M5Samsung Galaxy NXSamsung NX20Sony Alpha NEX-6
Sensor (effective resolution)16.3MP X-Trans CMOS
16.1MP Live MOS
12 bit
16.1MP Exmor HD CMOS
23.6mm x 15.6mm17.3mm x 13mm23.5mm x 15.7mm23.5mm x 15.7mm23.5 x 15.6mm
Focal-length multiplier1.5x2.0x1.5x1.5x1.5x
Sensitivity rangeISO 100 (expanded)/ 200 - ISO 6400/25600 (expanded)ISO 200 - ISO 25600ISO 100 - ISO 25600ISO 100 - ISO 12800ISO 100 - ISO 25600
Continuous shooting6fps
17 JPEG/11 raw
11 JPEG/8 raw
11 raw/15 JPEG
(10fps with fixed exposure)
2.36 million dots
100% coverage
1.44 million dots
100% coverage
480,000 dots
100% coverage
480,000 dots
100% coverage
2.4 million dots
100% coverage
Hot shoeYesYesYesYesYes
Contrast AF
35-area contrast AF105-point phase-detection, 247-point contrast AF15-point contrast AF99-point phase detection, 25-area contrast AF
AF sensitivity rangen/an/an/an/a0 - 20 EV
Shutter speed30-1/4,000 sec.; bulb to 60 min; 1/180 x-sync60-1/4,000 sec.; bulb to 8 minutes; 1/250 sec x-sync (flash-dependent)30-1/6,000 sec.; bulb to 4 minutes; 1/180 x-sync30-1/8,000 sec.; bulb to 4 minutes; 1/180 x-sync30-1/4,000 sec.; bulb; 1/160 sec x-sync
Metering256 zones324 arean/a221 segment1,200 zones
Metering rangen/a0 - 20 EVn/a0 - 18 EV0 - 20 EV
FlashYesIncluded add-onYesYesYes
Image stabilizationOpticalSensor shiftOpticalOpticalOptical
Video1080/24p H.2641080/60i QuickTime MOV @ 20, 17Mbps1080/30p; 1080 x 810/24p; 720/60p H.264 MPEG-41080/30p; 1080 x 810/24p; 720/30p H.264 MPEG-4AVCHD 1080/60p @ 28, 24Mbps, 1080/ 24p @ 24, 17Mbps, 1080/60i @ 17Mbps; H.264 MPEG-4 1440 x 1080/30p @ 12Mbps
AudioStereo; mic inputStereo; mic inputStereo; mic inputStereoStereo; mic input
LCD size2.8-inch fixed
460,000 dots
3-inch tilting touch-screen OLED
614,000 dots
4.8-inch fixed Super Clear LCD
921,000 dots
3-inch articulated AMOLED
921,000 dots
3-inch tilting touch screen
921,600 dots
Wireless connectionNoneNone3G HSPA+/4G LTE, Wi-Fi, BluetoothWi-FiWi-Fi
Battery life (CIPA rating)350 shotsn/an/a330 shots270 shots
(with viewfinder)
Dimensions (inches, WHD)5.1 x 2.9 x 1.54.8 x 3.5 x 1.75.4 x 4.0 x 1.04.6 x 2.5 x 1.44.8 x 2.8 x 1.1
Body operating weight (ounces)12.4 (est.)15.117.5 (est.)14 (est.)12.3
Mfr. price$999.95 (body only)$999.99 (body only)n/an/a$849.99 (body only)
$1,399.95 (with 18-55mm lens)$1,299.99 (with 12-50mm lens)tbd (with 18-55mm lens)$1,099.99(with 18-55mm i-Function lens)$999.99 (with 15-60mm PZ lens)
n/a$1,099.99 (with 14-42mm lens)n/an/an/a
Ship dateNovember 2012April 20122H 2013May 2012October 2012
With price as yet to be determined, it's hard to evaluate how it will stack up compared to this rather challenging field of competitors. Given its feature set, I can't imagine it being less expensive than the NX20; this would put it out of reach for a lot of consumers, though the lure of it connectedness might make some prosumers stretch their budgets. That convenience looks mighty attractive. So does the weather sealing on the Olympus and the overall great package for less money with the NEX-6, however.
Of course, if size and price matter to you, there's always the Galaxy S4 Zoom. While I don't expect much of it in the way of photo quality -- it's got a small sensor and a slow zoom lens, and it relies on the main processor for its image processing -- it's still smaller and lighter, and it makes phone calls.
The Galaxy NX will be sold through camera retailers rather than cell carriers; it really is a camera first and a connected device second. As of yet, Samsung has no carriers lined up, or at least none that it's ready to talk about. But we're assured that it will be ready to ship in plenty of time for your winter holiday shopping.

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