Samsung Galaxy NX: Revisited (2016)

In August 2015, I did a blog post which conveyed my thoughts on the Samsung Galaxy NX, Android based MILC (Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera), but with the sad news that Samsung would no longer be selling cameras in the United Kingdom (and many other countries), I felt the Samsung Galaxy NX needed, no, deserved a second look, this time with some pictures to provide a more thorough ‘picture’ of this much ignored and maligned camera. I personally think it’s a handsome camera and worth more than a second look.

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The Galaxy NX is a very well made, solid feeling camera, which, thanks to it’s excellent 20.3 Mega-Pixel APS-C CMOS Sensor, gives beautiful results. The auto white balance is accurate, colours true, the noise controlled well and only really starts to become noticeable, but still very usable with a touch of noise reduction post process, around 6400 ISO. I am happy with the results I’m getting, which need little by way of post processing. The Out Of Camera JPEGS (OOC) are very well controlled and instantly usable (easily edited in camera) but you can shoot RAW if you want to as well.

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The Galaxy NX has a very minimalist design, with a fairly thin camera body, but a very well sized hand grip. I would argue it is probably the best MILC I have used as far as handling goes. It never feels like it’ll slip out your hand. The rear Thumb Grip is fantastic and adds to the whole confident feel the Galaxy NX has in hand. It’s a great design. Some reviews have said the camera is huge for a MILC, but as I stated in my earlier review, it really isn’t. Compared to the OM-D E-M5, it may seem huge, but unlike the E-M5, you don’t need ‘pixie’ fingers to operate the Galaxy NX.

Many Samsung NX lenses, feature iFunction buttons, as can be seen on the 18-55mm kit lens which comes with the Galaxy NX above (‘iFn’ just above the AF switch). If pressed, this allows the photographer to toggle and select different settings without taking the camera away from your eye or whilst reviewing the rear LCD. The options that can be toggled through change depending on which mode the camera is set to, but can be easily selected either by using the lens focus ring or the command dial on the Galaxy NX body. Once you get used to the arrangement, it makes changing ISO, Aperture, Exposure, Shutter etc. very quick and intuitive.  Using both hands, just like on the Fujifilm X series, actually make taking the photograph more immersive and feels more natural, instead of the usual one handed index finger toggle one dial, thumb adjust the rear dial whilst hoping you hit the correct button for ISO, Exposure Comp etc. on other makes of camera.

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The Galaxy NX features a built in flash, which can be programmed as a fill flash, full 1st or 2nd Curtain flash. The diopter adjustment is made through a gnarled dial on the EVF housing, which unlike so many other diopter dials, can be adjusted easily with gloves on, but is also solid enough that it takes a deliberate movement to adjust, so accidental knocks won’t knock your EVF clarity out. I really appreciated this aspect of the dial.

The EVF is a 1.44MP which may be lower resolution by todays standards, but offers a clear and precise view. I have found it to be absolutely fine to use.

Beneath the Diopter adjust dial, on the camera shoulder, is the manual release button for the built in Flash and the Left Mic. In A, S or M modes the flash needs to be released manually if you want to use it, so no annoying flash popping up when you don’t want it. In the more automatic or Smart modes, the flash will release automatically if the exposure requires it.

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The Galaxy NX grip as stated earlier is big in relation to the rest of the camera, but, it gives the photographer a real confidence when holding the camera. The top plate above the grip houses the Shutter Release, dedicated video record button, Command Dial (which pushes forward to select or enter your input), the main On/Off button and the Right Mic. There’s also a little printing which reminds the user your using the NX System with Android OS (as if you could forget, but I’ll come to that later).

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The rear of the Galaxy NX is dominated by the 4.8″ LCD Touch Screen Display and it is gorgeous to use. The menu structure is the best Touch Screen based system I have used (and I do like the Canon EOS M series integration). In Smart Auto Mode, there are 22 or 23 options to scroll through using the Command Dial or swipe through using the Touch Screen, ranging from presets for Portrait to Macro through to Fireworks and Light Trails. Some of them may appear gimmicky at first, but they’re actually very ‘smart’ for those occasions you may want something a little different.

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The Galaxy NX does of course offer the traditional  options of Program (P), Aperture Priority (A), Shutter Priority (S) and Manual (M), selected via command dial or touch screen, along with custom user settings space where you can store your favourite settings. The display also has a choice of grids which can be superimposed onto it to allow more ‘pro’ composition. The choices are quite impressive, with 3×3, 4×4 and Diagonal amongst them.

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Having 4.8″ of real estate to display information, the Galaxy NX displays all the information the photographer could want, without detracting from image content. Histogram or Level Gauge can be superimposed as well as gridlines to assist the photographer as shown in the picture above. Shutter speed, Aperture, Exposure Compensation and ISO are displayed just beneath the EVF window along with quick access to Metering Mode, AEL AF modes down the left hand side of the display. A quick access Gallery area is located bottom left hand side of the screen.

Camera settings are accessed by touching the Cog Icon (next to the house icon) which allows a Quick Menu option, Still Image Settings, Video Settings and General Settings.

Touching the House Icon (upper left corner) switches the Galaxy NX into Android Device Mode.

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The Galaxy NX runs Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, which is, by todays standards, an old Android OS (operating system), but it was one of the most popular and stable. The default view is the Samsung Touchwiz interface which can be customised to the end users requirements. The default screen is above, along with a clear view of the thumb grip mentioned earlier. It is a chunk of rubber for a secure hold. The thumb does overlap the rear screen, but doesn’t impair operation as that part of the screen is not ‘active’.

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Touching the Apps icon in the lower right corner displays the more traditional Android layout of Apps which can be flicked or swiped from screen to screen.

The eagle eyed amongst you, will notice the Voice Search Icon (and the little microphone icon in other pics). This is a brilliant feature of the Galaxy NX. Voice integration. You can search the internet, Play Store (Apps) and TAKE PICTURES!!!!! with your voice. Yes. Just say ‘SMILE’ and the Galaxy NX will focus and take a shot when in camera mode. No wireless remote or cable release required. Just speak the word and the Galaxy NX does it. It is incredible.

Set your Galaxy NX up on your tripod, set to manual focus (which thanks to 5x magnification and focus peaking) is a doddle, stand back and say smile, the picture is taken vibration free. It is a class act.

Samsung include a Photo Suggest App which, thanks to the Galaxy NX built in GPS GLONASS, displays a map with images showing where others have taken pictures, so you can easily find areas of inspiration. It really is quite brilliant.

WiFi, 4G/LTE, 3G, Bluetooth 4 connectivity just add even more options to the camera,  needed for the fast moving demands of the 21st Century.

This is my second Galaxy NX, I found one new for well under £300 and I just had to buy it. I was trying to do a year with the Canon EOS M3 and one lens, but I really did miss the big display and image quality of the Galaxy NX, so I had to buy another one to replace the first one I sold last year. Besides, following Samsung’s announcement, I may not be able to buy another one ever again, which is a sad thing. I’m glad I did, as I love photographing with the Galaxy NX again. It is such fun. I didn’t realise how much I missed it until I started shooting with it again. It really is that good. (The only other camera I ever missed was my Leica M8, I loved that camera, but the ‘magenta’ issue was a killer  one, so it had to go).

My earlier post suggested the Galaxy NX was Samsung’s ‘iPhone’ moment: when launched nobody really understood what had just happened, but it changed the world forever. The Galaxy NX, I would still argue, is one of the most important cameras ever to be launched.

It was and is the ONLY interchangeable lens camera which can be connected 24/7 indoor and outdoor (Data SIM contract required, sold separately) , allow instant cloud based backup of images, instant transfer to One Drive, DropBox, Google+, Facebook, Twitter or whichever/ wherever you want to send your images. It is the only camera with a display large enough to edit on the go. No tablet or laptop needed.

The Galaxy NX is a brilliant camera. Not perfect by any means, but brilliant. Nothing today, compares to the capabilities it offers. More worryingly, nothing announced by any camera manufacturer for the future is even close to offering the same functionality the Galaxy NX offers.

Second hand prices are unbelievably low, so if you get a chance to grab one, I would recommend you do. After using the Galaxy NX, every other camera, just feels ‘insignificant’, ‘flawed’ or worse, ‘dated’ by comparison. I’ll be looking for a couple more to make sure I have one for many years to come. Nothing the other camera manufacturers are offering comes close to the features the Galaxy NX offers me and the convenience it provides with it’s connectivity. Time is money and the Galaxy NX saves me time.

It’s so sad Samsung, have decided to withdraw from the camera market. It’s a shame they haven’t developed the Galaxy NX further in the years since it launched. It really does deserve Samsung’s commitment. It is a great camera. Fortunately, I got one in the nick of time, I just wish I hadn’t sold my first one, then I would have two.



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