Samsung’s NX1 is a 4K-shooting beast that puts the mirrorless competition to shame

Just ahead of Photokina, Samsung announced its new flagship mirrorless camera, the NX1 (see our original news report here). While we have already a first-look at the camera in New York City a week prior, we spent additional hands-on time with the camera at Photokina in Cologne, Germany. Our initial impression: It pretty much puts all of its mirrorless competitors to shame.

So far, Samsung’s mirrorless offerings seemed focused more on the consumer crowd than professional photographers or enthusiasts. But make no mistake, the NX1 is a serious camera. So serious, in fact, that it puts all the latest technology into a body that’s hardly larger than the NX30, yet doesn’t even get close to DSLR size.

We covered the basic specs of the camera in our initial announcement article, but let’s just recapitulate what makes it so great. It has the highest-resolving back-illuminated (BSI) APS-C CMOS sensor with 28 megapixels, the most advanced hybrid autofocus with 205 phase-detection points (153 of which are cross type points) covering 90 percent of the image frame, a large and detailed and virtually lag-free electronic viewfinder, a tilting 3-inch display, Wi-Fi (fast 802.11ac), Bluetooth (yes, Bluetooth, to maintain a constant connection), 4K and UHD video, and a burst shooting mode with a maximum of 15 frames per second with continuous AF. If that’s not already impressive enough, Samsung also put an LCD status display on the camera, as well as a bunch of dials and buttons to satisfy even the most demanding photographer. All of that is packed in to a relatively compact camera body that is extremely nice to hold, thanks to its large pronounced grip.

The Samsung NX1's AF tracking kept up reliably with the moving skateboarder.
The Samsung NX1’s AF tracking kept up reliably with the moving skateboarder.

At Samsung’s Photokina booth, the company was showing off the capabilities of its new flagship mirrorless camera in a couple of different scenarios. In one area, we tested the camera’s sophisticated AF-tracking mode on a skateboarder moving forward and backward. By selecting the figure on the rear touchscreen, the AF would reliably track it throughout its (relatively quick) movement.

The NX1's Auto Shot function takes a picture as soon as a moving object moves to a pre-defined position.
The NX1’s Auto Shot function takes a picture as soon as a moving object moves to a pre-defined position.

Another demonstration showed off the Auto Shot feature, with the camera set up to predict when a baseball hits a baseball bat. It in the demonstration, it did so reliably and would fire the shutter in the exact moment when the ball hit the bat. Of course, this is a very specialized scenario (and a sport that isn’t very relevant to the European markets) but it’s easy to imagine what it could be extended to – soccer would be an example.

Related: Don’t have 4K UHD content for your TV? Make your own with Samsung’s new NX1

What’s also new with the NX1 is the vertical grip, something that Samsung has neglected in the past and is definitively a welcome addition for wedding photographers and the like. Besides extra buttons optimized for use in portrait orientation, the grip also has extra battery compartments to extend the NX1’s run time.

We would’ve loved to put the NX1’s new guts to the test, but unfortunately the cameras exhibited at Photokina were all pre-production models. What this means is that we weren’t allowed to put an SD card into the camera to check image quality, and that we can’t fully comment about its performance at this point, as many aspects will still be improved in the final production version. (That was the situation when we tested the camera in New York, but look for a full review as soon as we can get our hands on one.)

The 300mm f/2.8 NX lens sports a focus limiter that is set in-camera.
The 300mm f/2.8 NX lens sports a focus limiter that is set in-camera.

On top of the NX1 and the new 50-150mm f/2.8 lens, Samsung also showed off a new 300mm f/2.8 telephoto lens for the NX system, which is currently being developed. It’s nice to see that Samsung is putting such a huge focus on fast lenses. Besides the aperture, which is pretty wide for a lens of this focal length, the 300mm sports a focus limiter that lets you set a desired focusing range in-camera, which prevents the camera from hunting focus throughout the lens’ focusing range. The lens also has the ubiquitous i-Function button as well as optical image stabilization. While we were able to take a close look at the lens, again, it was a pre-production model so we can’t comment on its performance yet.

Overall, the Samsung NX1 got us pretty excited, as it is at this point the one mirrorless camera with the overall best specifications. Now we can’t wait to get our hands on a final production model to put through its paces and see whether Samsung’s bold claims about the camera’s performance hold true. From our initial impressions at Photokina, though, we’re pretty positive that it will.

Product Review

Canon democratizes full-frame with the EOS RP, but keep your expectations low

At just $1,300, the RP is Canon's least expensive full-frame camera yet, but it was born into a world of high-end, high-cost lenses where it doesn't yet feel at home.

From DSLRs to mirrorless, these are the best cameras you can buy right now

From entry-level models to full-frame flagships, many cameras take great photos and video. The best digital cameras, however, push the industry forward with innovative sensors and improved usability, among other things. Here are our…

Fujifilm’s X-T30 is a semi-pro, feature-rich camera that’s affordable to boot

Fujifilm's newest mirrorless camera delivers the premium features of the X-T3 without the premium price, giving aspiring enthusiasts a lower-cost option that can still match the image quality of Fuji's flagship.

Nikon will bring eye-detection autofocus to the Z6 and Z7 in May

An upcoming firmware update will bring Eye AF to the Nikon Z6 and Z7 -- along with improved autofocus performance in low light. The update will also give the cameras support for the CFexpress format.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world will take your breath away

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.

Using A.I., Lightroom can now boost the resolution of RAW photos

Need to eek a bit more resolution out of a RAW file? Adobe Lightroom and Camera Raw can help with a new feature called Detail Enhance. The tool uses A.I. in the demosaicing process to enhance details and reduce artifacts.

Corel VideoStudio adds tools for customizing color in simple video edits

VideoStudio is Corel's more consumer-oriented video editor but the software recently gained advanced color correction tools. The update adds custom transitions, along with speeding up performance, and adding new shortcuts.

Tight on space? Here’s how to transfer photos from an iPhone to a computer

Never lose any of your cherished selfies or family vacation photos from your iPhone again by learning how to transfer photos from your iPhone to a computer, whether you want to use a cable or wireless transfer.

500px reveals almost 15 million users are caught up in security breach

Almost 15 million members of portfolio website 500px have been caught up in a security breach. The hack occurred in 2018 but was only discovered last week. Users are being told to change their 500px password as soon as possible.

Olympus packs an enormous zoom ability in its latest interchangeable lens

The Olympus Digital ED M.Zuiko 12-200mm F/3.5-6.3 has the widest zoom range of any interchangeable lens with a 16.6x zoom. The lens, which covers a 24-400mm equivalent, is also weather sealed.

Nikon brings a classic workhorse lens to the Z series with new 24-70mm f/2.8 S

The Nikon Z series finally has a bright zoom available without an adapter. The Nikkor Z 24-70mm F/2.8 S offers new coatings and more customizable controls in a smaller, lighter body than the comparable F-mount lens.

Fujifilm XP140 squeezes more durability, low-light ability into a waterproof cam

Fujifilm's waterproof compact can now head even further underwater. The Fujifilm XP140 features several upgrades, including a more durable body, a wider ISO range for low light, and expanded auto modes.

From f/1.2 primes to the mysterious DS, here are Canon’s upcoming RF lenses

Canon's EOS R mirrorless series will gain six new lenses this year. Canon just shared a list of six lenses under development, including four zooms and two prime lenses. One has a mysterious new feature called Defocus Smoothing.

OnePlus 6T vs. Honor View 20: We compare the cameras in these ‘flagship killers’

For less than $600, you can buy either the OnePlus 6T or the Honor View 20, two extremely capable smartphones with plenty of exciting features. But which one has the best camera? We found out on a recent trip to France.