Samsung NX500 Review
|Full model name:||Samsung NX500|
(23.5mm x 15.7mm)
|Viewfinder:||No / OLED|
|Native ISO:||100 - 25,600|
|Extended ISO:||100 - 51,200|
|Shutter:||1/6000 - 30 sec|
|Max Aperture:||3.5 (kit lens)|
4.7 x 2.5 x 1.7 in.
(120 x 64 x 43 mm)
includes batteries, kit lens
|Full specs:||Samsung NX500 specifications|
The Samsung NX500 is a fun, great little camera with lots of the same horsepower and technology from the larger NX1. The high-res 28MP sensor and fast processor allow for very good, high-resolution images, good high ISO performance and crisp 4K video. Overall, the Samsung NX500, with its compact, lightweight design and solid build quality, stacks up to be not only a great mid-level camera for those stepping beyond the smartphone, but also a great secondary camera to enthusiasts looking for a lightweight companion to their NX1 or other larger system camera.Pros
Very good image quality with high-resolution files; Excellent high ISO performance with RAW files; Very good dynamic range; Fast AF performance; Compact design with good build quality; Better ergonomics than predecessor; 4K video recording.Cons
High ISO noise reduction too strong; AF struggles in low-light; Buffer depth is shallow with RAW files; No option for EVF; No built-in flash (external one included); 4K Video is cropped with narrower FOV.Price and availability
The Samsung NX500 went on sale in March 2015 for the rather affordable price of US$799.99 with the 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS Power Zoom lens. The camera body is available in brown, black and white colors.Imaging Resource rating
4.5 out of 5.0
Samsung NX500 Review
by William Brawley
Perhaps these have been your thoughts when contemplating the Samsung NX1. If you've been admiring the specs, features and performance of Samsung's latest flagship mirrorless camera, but don't want or need a beefy, weather-sealed, DSLR-like camera body, Samsung now has the solution to your conundrum.
With the new Samsung NX500 -- the successor to both the NX300M and NX300 from a couple years ago -- the Korean electronics giant manages to squeeze almost all the guts of their high performance NX1 camera into a much more compact, lightweight -- and less expensive -- body. Indeed, the new NX500 sports the same 28.2-megapixel APS-C backside illuminated CMOS sensor and similar DRIMe Vs (note the "s" designation here compared to the NX1's standard DRIMe V engine) image processor as its bigger brother, providing high-quality, high-resolution images with the same ISO sensitivity range of 100-25,600 (up to ISO 51,200 expanded).
Autofocus performance on the NX500 is similar to the NX1 as well, as it shares the same NX AF System III, which uses a combination of 205 on-sensor phase detect pixels (153 of which are cross-type sensors) covering about 90% of the imaging sensor, as well as 209 contrast-detect AF areas. This is a noticeable upgrade over the NX300's hybrid AF system, which featured a comparatively paltry 105 PDAF sensors (though the number of CDAF areas were a bit higher at 247). Unfortunately, the NX1's patterned AF illuminator didn't make it over, with the NX500 using the same conventional AF-assist lamp as the NX300.
In addition to sharing the NX1's AF system, the NX500 also includes the special Samsung Auto Shot capture mode. With SAS, the camera will continuously monitor the scene and then automatically detect and track a fast-moving subject -- like a moving baseball or a runner on a track -- and snap a photo right at the precise moment -- when the ball strikes the bat or the runner crosses the finish line.
For video enthusiasts, the NX500 also shares similar video recording capabilities as the NX1, including ultra-high-res 4K video, in both Ultra HD 3840 x 2160 and Cinema 4K 4096 x 2160 resolutions. Ultra HD video is recorded at 30fps, while Cinema 4K video -- not surprisingly given the 'cinema' name -- is pegged at 24fps. The NX500 also offers Full HD at 60p, 30p and 24p and 720p video at 60p and 30p (as well as 50p and 25p in PAL mode). Like the NX1, video is recorded using the new, space-saving H.265 HEVC video codec, which takes up about half the amount of memory card space as the oft-used H.264 codec.
Of course, given the size constraints as well as the target price point, the NX500 is not exactly like the NX1, as there are a few notable changes compared to the flagship model, including some video capabilities. While the NX500 and NX1 can both record 4K video internally to the SD card, the NX500 is limited to only 1080p resolution output via the HDMI port -- whereas the NX1 can go up to 4K. (The NX1 was also limited to 1080p HDMI output when recording 4K to the SD card, but it could stream clean, uncompressed 4K via HDMI when not recording internally.)
Like the NX300, the NX500 also omits the NX1's external microphone and headphone jacks, and its data port is High-Speed USB 2.0, not the SuperSpeed USB 3.0 port on the NX1.
Burst shooting performance is also not as souped-up as the the NX1 due to using the same shutter mechanism as the earlier NX300. The NX500 offers the same ~9fps maximum burst capabilities as the NX300 -- a solid spec in and of itself -- while the brawnier NX1 can hit up to a whopping 15fps. And like the NX300, the the NX500's top shutter speed is 1/6,000th of a second, not 1/8,000s as on the NX1. Flash x-sync speed isn't quite as fast as the NX1's either, at 1/200 second versus 1/250, though it's improved over the NX300's 1/180 second.
And of course, there are more obvious differences such as lack of the NX1's electronic viewfinder, additional physical controls and built-in flash (a small external flash is still bundled as it was with the NX300).
The NX500 does feature most of the nifty and convenient wireless connectivity amenities from the NX1, such as always-on Bluetooth, Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11b/g/n) and NFC, however there's no support for the 802.11ac standard, which means wireless streaming of 4K video is not possible.
For a more in-depth look at some of the technology packed inside the new NX500 from the NX1, check out our tour of the NX1's technical features.
We've talked about all the under-the-hood improvements to the NX500, so now let's get acquainted with the updated exterior design and physical controls...
Samsung NX500 Walkaround
Not surprisingly, the NX500 shares a lot of design aesthetics and ergonomics with its predecessor -- as Samsung described, it's basically an NX300 with the guts of the NX1. The NX500 maintains a similar sleek, slim, two-toned body design with protruding, curved handgrip as with the NX300. The biggest design change is the improved grip ergonomics. The top edge of the handgrip has been sloped downwards slightly to provide a more comfortable placement for your index finger over the shutter release button.
From the front, it's clear the styling of the NX500 is nearly identical to the NX300. The top plate remains a sleek, brushed silver metal, with the rest of the front face covered in a black, faux-leather, textured grip material for comfort and a secure hold. The black finish now extends down fully to the base of the camera rather than having a slim silver-finished bottom panel as on the NX300. The brand and model name logo remain in the same place, as does the AF assist lamp. The lens mount release button has been moved slightly from the 3-o'clock position to close to a 4-o'clock position in the lower left corner, however.
Moving up to the top plate, again the NX500 is familiar territory for those accustomed with the NX300 control scheme and design, with the controls clustered around the handgrip area for easy access. Samsung has added an Auto-Exposure Lock (AEL) button now to the right side of the shutter release button that was not present on the NX300. Behind the shutter release is the same vertical command dial, and in the lower-right corner of the top plate is the large, knurled mode dial.
The mode dial itself has changed slightly. In addition to the standard PASM options, Samsung has done away with the dedicated "Wi-Fi" and "i" modes, in favor of the new SAS (Samsung Auto Shot) mode and also a "C" mode for a user-customizable preset shooting mode.
The remaining top plate features include a Mobile activation button, providing one-press access to the camera's wireless connectivity options, and a standard-size hotshoe. Like the previous model, there are two small microphone ports on either side of the hotshoe for stereo audio recording, though they are placed closer together as well as closer to the front of the camera. And the speaker port is now also on the top plate, moved from the left side of the NX300.
Moving to the rear of the camera, things are largely unchanged in terms of button placement. Users are presented with the same set of four, cardinal direction buttons centered around a central "OK/AF point" button. Surrounding these 4-way buttons are the Menu, Function, Playback and Delete buttons. There is also the exposure compensation button placed above the Menu button.
Unlike the NX300, however, Samsung has thoughtfully added back a second command dial near the thumb grip for quick and easy adjustments to settings on the fly. When the NX300 was introduced, it did away with the NX200's rotating dial around its 4-way directional button cluster, and left out any sort of rear dial control altogether. For fans of manual, physical controls, it's nice to have this feature included again on the NX500. Samsung has also subsequently tweaked the contour of the thumb grip shape to make room for this rear dial. As with the previous model, the slightly recessed movie-recording button is conveniently placed near the apex of the thumb grip protrusion.
Users will also notice that the faux-leather textured grip material now wraps around the entire back panel and between the buttons -- and along the full right side as well -- instead of transitioning to a smooth plastic finish.
The rear screen tilt range is the same as the later-released NX300M variant providing full 180-degree upward tilt capabilities for easy self-portraits. And as with both the NX300 and NX300M, the NX500's screen tilts downward about 45 degrees, as well. The Samsung NX500 uses the same panel as the NX1, however, which is a 3-inch, 1,036K-dot Super AMOLED display rather than the 3.31-inch, 768K-dot AMOLED display used on the NX300/M.
On the left side, we have a strap lug as well as small door covering the USB 2.0 and Type-D Micro HDMI ports. As mentioned previously, the NX500 does not provide external mic or headphone jacks, nor the USB 3.0 port found on the NX1. The right side of the NX500 is rather unremarkable containing no ports, buttons or switches, with only a lone strap lug.
Along the bottom, we see a standard tripod socket and the door covering the battery and SD card slot location. The battery -- the same BP1130 lithium ion rechargeable battery pack as in the NX300 -- is rated for 1,130mAh. If you're upgrading from the NX200 and NX210, which used BP1030 packs with a 1,030 mAh rating, you can still use these packs as well. We don't yet have an official battery life rating for the NX500, but the same BP1130 in the NX300 was CIPA-rated at 320 shots per charge, and Samsung's preliminary testing suggests that it could be close to 400 shots for the NX500.
The NX500 uses Secure Digital cards, including the latest SDHC and SDXC types, as well as the higher-speed UHS-I cards for file storage. (Note that unlike the NX1, the NX500 does not include UHS-II support.) Images can be stored in either RAW or JPEG compressed formats, and movies are saved in a .MP4 container using HEVC / H.265 compression, and include AAC audio.
One final change from the NX300 is the now unfortunately absent bundled Adobe Lightroom software. Some earlier higher-end Samsung NX cameras including the NX1 and NX300 included a standalone version of Adobe's popular cataloging and photo editing software. However, Samsung says Lightroom will not be included with the NX500 this time around. The NX500's software bundle consists of Samsung Raw Converter (based on SILKYPIX), i-Launcher (web version), Power Media Player, Samsung Movie Converter, and Samsung DNG Converter.
The Samsung NX500 went on sale in March 2015 for the rather affordable price of US$799.99 with the 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS Power Zoom lens. The camera body is available in brown, black and white colors.. This price point puts the NX500 as the world's first 4K-capable interchangeable lens camera under US$1,500.
Samsung NX500 Field Test
The traveler's NX1: A high-res, 4K-shooting, compact ILC
For me, a long-time DSLR user, the Samsung NX1 looked like an undoubtedly impressive piece of kit, however, after reviewing and using a number ever-smaller mirrorless cameras, I was starting to get swayed by the appeal of a lighter, more compact camera. The NX1 is quite a bit larger and bulkier than many of its mirrorless contemporaries, and it was a little concerning to me -- and, I'm sure, to many others out there.
Well, it wasn't soon after that Samsung came along with a solution: the Samsung NX500. Taking the more svelte, rangefinder-esque body design of the NX300 and cramming in the guts of the NX1, Samsung created a camera that aims to basically be an NX1 in a compact shell.
Samsung NX500 Image Quality Comparison
Big resolution, small package
NOTE: These images are best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction and using the camera's actual base ISO (not extended ISO settings). All cameras in this comparison were shot with our very sharp reference lenses. Clicking any crop will take you to a carrier page where you can click once again to access the full resolution image as delivered straight from the camera. For those interested in working with the RAW files involved, click these links to visit each camera's respective sample image thumbnail page: Samsung NX500, Samsung NX300, Canon T6i, Nikon D5500, Olympus E-PL7 and Sony A6000 -- links to the RAW files appear beneath those for the JPEG images, wherever we have them. And remember, you can always go to our world-renowned Comparometer to compare the Samsung NX500 to any camera we've ever tested.
Samsung NX500 Print Quality
Lots of megapixels allow for large prints
The compact, travel-friendly Samsung NX500 really packs a punch in the print department alongside its larger sibling, the NX1. With a very high-resolution 28MP APS-C image sensor, this camera's files can create some really large prints. At base ISO until ISO 400, you're only limited really on how much you're willing to push the boundaries of the 28MP sensor's resolution. Fine detail is fantastic and colors are accurate at these lower ISO prints. At the middle ISO level, the NX500 still manages to produce some excellent and quite large prints. At the extremely high ISOs, the NX500 can still make acceptable prints, with ISO 25,600 being the top limit. Read on to see how the NX500 stacks up at each ISO level.
Samsung NX500 Conclusion
The NX1 meets compact, travel camera
The Samsung NX500 packs a lot of punch for a lightweight, travel-friendly mirrorless camera. Coming as an update to the earlier NX300, the NX500 is more of a complete overhaul rather than merely an incremental update to their mid-level compact system camera. In fact, under the hood, the NX500 includes many of the same hardware and software features as the beefy, flagship NX1.
Indeed, the NX500 shares the same backside-illuminated 28.2-megapixel APS-C sensor as the NX1 as well as a similar DRIMe Vs image processor, which together give the NX500 some impressive specs, including very crisp, high-resolution images, a very high 51,200 maximum ISO sensitivity and 4K video recording.
In the Box
The Samsung NX500 retail kit w/16-50mm package (as reviewed) contains the following items:
- Samsung NX500 Camera Body
- 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 Power Zoom ED OIS Lens (Black)
- ED-BP1130 Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery Pack (7.6VDC, 1130mAh)
- ED-SEF8A Flash
- USB Wall Charger
- Micro-USB Cable
- Body Cap
- Lens Caps
- Large capacity SDHC/SDXC memory card. 16GB Class 10 should be a minimum.
- Extra Samsung ED-BP1130 Lithium-Ion Battery Pack (~US$24)
- Small-sized camera bag
Buy the Samsung NX500
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$499.00 (119% less)
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$399.00 (174% less)
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