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Samsung NX300 review: Shoot like a pro, share like a teenager

Derrick Story | Oct. 16, 2013
It has interchangeable lenses and in-camera retouching, plus built-in Wi-Fi for easy Instagramming.

To interact with your iOS or Android device, download the Samsung Smart Camera App. The iOS and Android apps are optimized for phones over tablets—a universal option for iPads would be welcome.

The apps let you use your mobile device as a remote release with the Remote Viewfinder function. You can even choose to save the image to both the smartphone and camera, or just to the camera.

In addition to Wi-Fi on the mode dial, there's a Direct Link button on the top plate that allows others to follow your captures in real time—perfect for moms and dads who want to see how their child's portrait session is looking on camera.

Image quality and options

The NX300 produces excellent pictures under a range of conditions. ISO performance is outstanding, even when pushed to the higher ISOs. I wouldn't hesitate to shoot with this camera at ISO 1600. Color is also quite pleasing. Skin tones and foliage are a bit more saturated than in shots from many competing cameras in the compact category, but not to an over-the-top extent. The NX300 produces some of the best "right out of the camera" images I've seen among mirrorless models.

In addition to Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual modes, Samsung includes a raft of Smart Mode and Smart Filter settings. These are not gimmicks, but creative options to help you capture the shot you want.

For example, the Beauty Face Smart Mode attractively smooths textures, producing images that will surely please your subjects. The tradeoff is the 2-second delay after the NX300 captures an image while it processes the image. Once that's done, you can take the next shot. For your patience, you're rewarded with a retouched image right on the LCD.

Other Smart Modes, such as Light Trace, are worth exploring, too.Though you can take pictures the traditional way by using Program or Aperture Priority, don't ignore the other options. As a group, they're quite impressive.

Software

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 is bundled with the camera—fortunately, because at this writing Aperture and iPhoto can't process Raw files from the NX300. If you shoot JPEGs only, this won't matter. But Raw files processed in Lightroom look great, so I found myself shooting Raw+JPEG a lot, sending my favorite JPEGs to the iPad for immediate publishing, and saving the Raws for processing later in Lightroom.

Bottom line

The Samsung NX300 provides a legitimate alternative to the Sony NEX and Olympus OM-D series. Its large APS-C sensor, sharp kit lens, and plethora of intelligent controls are worth investigating before you decide which compact system camera to buy.

 

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