A luxurious compact system camera with big improvements across the board
23.5×15.7mm 20.0-megapixel sensor, 3.0x zoom (27-82.5mm equivalent), 548g
Photo quality showed dramatic improvements too. Whereas the previous generation of NX cameras saw image quality succumb to noise at ISO 3200, the NX300’s output was far cleaner, with respectable results up to ISO 6400. This raises the NX range from the bottom of the CSC pack to near the top for noise levels. The Sony NEX-5R still clung onto a narrow lead, but the difference was only clear at ISO 12800.
JPEGs at ISO 800 show barely any evidence of noise, and colour processing is spot on – click to enlarge
There’s a little grain at ISO 3200, but still plenty of detail. Quality here is good enough to print, and marks a massive improvement for the NX range – click to enlarge[
Image quality is still holding together well at ISO 6400 – it’s good enough for sharing online – click to enlarge[
Only at ISO 12800 does noise take a heavy toll – click to enlarge[
Image quality in brightly lit scenes matched the excellent results of previous NX cameras, with the 20-megapixel sensor and sharp kit lens delivering extremely sharp details, and dense textures were handled superbly.
This shot in direct sunlight is hard to fault – the camera has picked out the detail in the dense vegetation extremely well – click to enlarge[
In many respects the NX300 and Sony NEX-5R – our current Best Buy – are very similar. Both excel for image quality, have Wi-Fi built in and come with lots of innovative shooting modes. Both have highly capable video modes, with the Samsung delivering sharper details and the Sony exhibiting less aliasing artefacts and noise. Both have a small but growing selection of lenses available, with all the most important lens types covered. We prefer the Samsung’s more generous allocation of labelled buttons, but both are friendly and quick to use and their performance results are very similar. For us, the Samsung wins hands down for style, but the Sony is slightly smaller. It’s a very tough call to make between the two.
Objectively, it all comes down to price. The NEX-5R is currently available for around £450, which makes the NX300 look expensive at £600 with the 18-55mm kit lens, although Samsung throws in a copy of the excellent Adobe Lightroom 4 to sweeten the deal (worth around £75). It’s also available for £550 with the 20-50mm lens, but this lens lacks optical stabilisation so we’d avoid it.
Today, the NEX-5R is still narrowly our top pick, though if you want Lightroom 4 and more buttons to play with then the NX300 is a fantastic alternative. As prices inevitably drop over the next few months we’ll have to come back and seriously reconsider an award for this great camera.
|CCD effective megapixels
|Viewfinder magnification, coverage
|LCD screen size
|LCD screen resolution
|Zoom 35mm equivalent
|optical, in kit lens
|Maximum image resolution
|JPEG, RAW; MP4 (AVC)
|Battery Life (tested)
|USB, micro HDMI, Wi-Fi, NFC
|Focal length multiplier
|Kit lens model name
|8-55mm F3.5-5.6 ED OIS II
|USB cable, neck strap
|one year RTB
|program, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
|30 to 1/6,000 seconds
|f/3.5-22 (wide), f/5.6-22 (tele)
|ISO range (at full resolution)
|100 to 25600
|auto, 7 presets with fine tuning, manual, Kelvin
|Additional image controls
|contrast, saturation, sharpness, colour, dynamic range, noise reduction
|Closest macro focus
|multi, flexible spot, face detect, tracking
|multi, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
|auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, rear curtain, red-eye reduction
|single, continuous, self-timer, AE bracket, WB bracket, Picture Wiard bracket, HDR, panorama, 3D panorama