Samsung Galaxy NX Conclusion

Pro: Cons:
  • Very good image quality and resolution from 20-megapixel, APS-C CMOS sensor
  • Excellent hue accuracy with manual white balance
  • Comfy handgrip
  • Very good kit lens performance
  • Fast burst modes (but see Cons regarding burst depth and buffer clearing)
  • Great battery life
  • Excellent print quality results
  • Full Android 4.2 operating system allows for smartphone features like apps and data access in the field with the flexibility of an ILC and large sensor
  • Other smartphone/tablet features like full web browsing, email and text messaging (no phone calling, except for data-based VoIP apps like Skype)
  • Full PASM exposure controls
  • Built-in pop-up flash and hotshoe
  • Built-in EVF (but see Cons)
  • 16GB of on-board storage (about 10GB free) is great for overflow or if you forget your memory card
  • Very large 4.8-inch, 720p HD resolution Super-LCD touchscreen is bright and easy to see in all conditions (even bright sunlight)
  • Lots of in-camera editing features that take advantage of the large touchscreen
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and 3G / 4G LTE data connectivity let you backup and share photos and video to various cloud services like Dropbox, Facebook, Flickr, etc.
  • Built-in GPS with geotagging
  • Built-in Bluetooth 4.0
  • Bundle includes Adobe Lightroom
  • Extremely slow startup time (25-30 seconds) due to Android OS boot process
  • Has a "sleep mode" like a smartphone, but still takes 2-3 seconds to wake before it's ready to shoot
  • Mode switching and settings adjustments are also slow
  • Slower than average autofocus speeds and shutter lag for a mirrorless camera
  • Sluggish single-shot cycle times
  • Shallow buffer depths when shooting RAW
  • Slow buffer clearing
  • Slow flash recycling
  • Somewhat slow maximum flash sync for the price (1/180s)
  • Poor low-light focusing
  • Aggressive noise reduction in JPEGs at higher ISOs
  • Native lens selection is still fairly limited
  • Very minimal external controls, with only one multi-function control dial/button; heavy reliance on touchscreen for exposure adjustments and other settings
  • Easy to accidentally put thumb onto screen when gripping the camera
  • Inconsistent UI that changes control layout depending on shooting mode (i.e. Standard vs Professional modes)
  • EVF feels cramped, displays noticeable lag and a strange "RGB" or rainbow tearing effect
  • Timestamped filenaming system can lead to mismatched RAW+JPEG pair filenames
  • Uses tiny MicroSD memory cards
  • Only T-Mobile Data SIM cards are supported in the U.S.
  • Memory card must be unmounted from the OS before removing it from the camera (like a computer)
  • Expensive

In this day and age, the popularity of the smartphone being used as the camera-of-choice for many people continues to skyrocket. As a result, many camera manufacturers are feeling the squeeze as sales decline in favor of these multi-purpose, pocketable devices. Camera companies have started adding Wi-Fi and NFC features to their cameras to help bridge the gap between dedicated cameras and smartphones. The aim is to make it quicker and easier for photographers to transfer their work from their more advanced camera onto their social network of choice.

With the Galaxy NX, Samsung's gone in a different direction. Instead of enhancing the connection between your smartphone and your dedicated large-sensor, interchangeable lens camera, Samsung has pretty much put a full-on smartphone right inside the camera. Right off the bat, Samsung deserves some praise for attempting such a bold device. Unfortunately, this marriage between the ILC and the smartphone is a bit of an awkward affair.

There are some great qualities to the Galaxy NX, however: image quality is very good with excellent high-resolution images at low to mid ISOs; the impressively large LCD screen is bright, colorful and easy to see in bright sunlight; and the use of the Android OS expands the functionality of the camera with all sorts of powerful apps for editing, sharing, and even capturing images. If you're an Instagram addict or a mobile photography power-user, the workflow has never been more streamlined to use an interchangeable-lens camera for sharing photos on the go.

However, there are number of downsides and frustrations with the Galaxy NX. Since the camera runs a full version of the Android operating system, startup time is excruciatingly slow compared to dedicated cameras -- about 25-30 seconds. So if your camera is not powered up and ready to go, be prepared to miss a lot of photographic opportunties. Even the standby "sleep mode" takes about 2-3 seconds before it's ready to take a picture.

The lack of external controls can also be frustrating for fans of the physical buttons and dials that adorn the typical DSLR. With a single, unmarked multi-function control dial, the primary interaction with the camera leans heavily on the touchscreen. And sadly, the software-based user interface is all over the place, radically changing depending on the shooting mode. The UI looks completely different menu to menu, making it difficult to know your way around the camera.

Other issues such as aggressive noise reduction for JPEGs at higher ISOs, slower than average shutter lag and AF performance (especially in low light), a shallow RAW buffer and slow buffer clearing make the camera part of this chimera quite underwhelming. And then on the smart device side of things, with standard Android features like web browsing, text messaging and email, the Galaxy NX feels like it's trying to replace your smartphone or tablet, but given its design, size and limited cellular connectivity, that just seems impractical.

Perhaps some slack should be given, though. This is Samsung's first attempt at such a radical device -- apart from the initial forays into "smartphone cameras" with the Galaxy Camera and Galaxy Camera 2 -- and, who knows, perhaps the next iteration of the Galaxy NX will address many of the performance shortcomings. However, as it stands now, as our reviewer Tim put it, the Galaxy NX feels like too much camera for someone who wants a smartphone, yet too much smartphone for someone who wants a camera, so we can't award the Galaxy NX a Dave's Pick.


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