At their Premiere event in New York Samsung gave us a chance to briefly check out their just announced Galaxy NX camera. We hurried over to where the camera itself was exhibited along with many NX mount lenses.
The benefit of having a choice of interchangeable lenses is one of the crucial advantages that the Galaxy NX has over last year’s Galaxy Camera and this year’s Galaxy S4 Zoom.
The other, of course, is the large APS-C sensor with a 20.3MP effective resolution. Physically, that translates into a sensor that’s much bigger than the sensor in any smartphone.
But the Galaxy NX is no regular smartphone – the 136.5 x 101.2 x 25.7mm dimensions may sound relatively close to a those of a big-screen smartphone, but the grip and the lens can protrude (quite a bit for zoom lenses) and the thing is heavy at half a kilo.
Samsung Galaxy NX
The screen on the back is pretty impressive for a camera – 4.8″ HD TFT – but it feels like it’s the same that the Galaxy Camera got last year. There’s an electronic viewfinder with SVGA resolution (800x600px), which some DSLR photographers might prefer though we find the EVF resolution to be on the low side.
There aren’t many camera-specific controls on the body of the camera. Most settings will have to be accessed on the screen, which is not ideal, from a photographer’s point of view. At least, there’s a proper built-in pop-up xenon flash.
The touchscreen is used to control the TouchWizzified Android 4.2.2. Inside, there is a quad-core 1.6GHz processor with 2GB of RAM, unfortunately we couldn’t check what kind of CPU exactly (we wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a Cortex-A9).
Most Android controls are available on-screen, but you also get a hardware Power/Lock key and a 3.5mm audio jack (but we didn’t see a volume rocker). The camera controls, however, are mostly hardware. You get two separate shutter keys (still and video), a mode selector and a button to pop up the xenon flash. The flash is right next to the hot shoe slot on top of the camera.
Galaxy S4 like camera interface on top of Android 4.2.2 with TouchWiz
Of course, each lens comes with its own set of control rings, which can be used to adjust the shot. There are on-screen controls too, similar to the Galaxy S4 and S4 Zoom camera UIs. Unfortunately, getting out of the camera UI requires an annoying gesture.
A look at the hardware controls of the Galaxy NX
Speaking of lenses, Samsung had covered several tables with just various NX lenses that you can put on the Galaxy NX just to show off the availble choice. Bear in mind however that these don’t come cheap – they are generally more expensive than DSLR lenses.
A whole slew of NX mount lenses you can use on the Galaxy NX
The camera body has a very comfy grip, the whole Galaxy NX is made of a sort of matte plastic that is fairly nice to the touch. There’s a big lanyard eyelet (did we mention the NX weighs 495g with battery?) and a regular tripod mount at the bottom.
Samsung Galaxy NX in the hand
Samsung went with a 4,360mAh battery, much bigger than what the NX2000 has, for example. Still, the Galaxy NX has a powerful chipset and power-hungry LTE connectivity, which the NX2000 doesn’t.
There’s 16GB of built-in storage, but that’s readily expandable with microSD cards. We would have preferred a full size SD card (they’re cheaper and even faster), but Samsung’s other NX cameras use microSDs too.
The Galaxy NX may remain a niche product but around the office we pretty much like the concept of pairing a big size sensor and interchangeable lenses to Android.