4.18.2014

A "selfie" from a client request.


One of the agency people involved with Samsung asked me to send along a selfie with one of the Samsung cameras. At one time last year I was the most knowledgable user of the Samsung Galaxy NX camera anywhere. Since I am vain and constantly self-promoting I got on the assignment right away. I pulled out an ancient, non-connectivity Sony a850 and put on the cheesy 24-105mm Sony lens, grabbed the electronic cable release and fired away. I like the black mock turtleneck and the glasses with the black rim over the top.

Pulling out the Samsung Galaxy NX for the photograph got me investigating that camera anew. I think the gap in my thinking last year was my myopic concentration with the camera's still imaging and still photography handling capabilities. I overlooked the video capabilities of the camera entirely. So yesterday I spent a lot of the afternoon playing around with the Galaxy NX as a video camera.

Now I have an all new respect for the camera. I have always liked the sensor and I was always impressed with every Samsung lens I've shot but now I am a fan of the video capabilities as well.

But first one caveat: The camera is not well set up for recording professional quality sound along with the video. There is an all purpose 3.5mm plug on the side into which you can use EITHER a set of headphones to hear playback, or a microphone to record audio, but you obviously can't use them both at the same time. Another constraint is that the audio set up of the camera doesn't allow for control over the sound levels in the recording mode. You get automatic levels no matter what.

But I will say that they do some good software in the audio region that senses gaps between words and clamps down on levels instead of letting them spike up and create hiss and noise. You can still hear some anomalies but it's pretty workable.  I recorded myself with an inexpensive Olympus stereo lavaliere microphone and while it wasn't bad it also wasn't perfect.

But the video at the highest quality settings, and using the 1080p, 30fps is very good indeed. Unlike the big Sony a99 the video written to the memory card is very sharp and detailed. The color balance, even using the AWB setting is great and it's a lot of fun composing and shooting while using the almost 5 inch screen on the back. It's the production equivalent of having an outboard, large monitor.

A bonus is that the camera provides focus peaking in manual focus settings which worked well with the tests I did using the new 85mm 1.4 lens.

Funny that this is a camera I didn't really warm up to when shooting stills and yet I am very pleased and intrigued to use it as a video tool. I'm shooting some personal work with it over the weekend and I'll be using the Zoom H4n and a shotgun mic to do audio. In one of the recent upgrades to Final Cut Pro X Apple has basically incorporated the same kind of sound matching we used to need PluralEyes to get. Now it can all be done in the program by matching up the outboard audio with the camera scratch track. You really have to shoot live view with a 5 inch monitor to get the appeal but believe me, it's fun and highly productive.

The camera is currently selling for around $1200. We're getting into a more realistic price range. I'll have some footage to show next week. I'm not advising any one to run out and buy one right away. But if you have one sitting around fire up the video setting and do some work. I think you WILL be pleasantly surprised.

Yes, it's this camera:









2 comments:

  1. "So yesterday I spent a lot of the afternoon playing around with the Galaxy NX as a video camera."

    Well, I for one wish you had done a it with the NX30 instead, as it seems to be better equipped for video. Some other afternoon, perhaps?
    A geek out afternoon of comparing it to the G6/GH3, for example?
    Wink wink, nudge nudge, eh, eh? ;-)

    "Another constraint is that the audio set up of the camera doesn't allow for control over the sound levels in the recording mode. You get automatic levels no matter what."

    No such constraint with the NX30. Just sayin'... ;-)

    "But I will say that they do some good software in the audio region that senses gaps between words and clamps down on levels instead of letting them spike up and create hiss and noise."

    Which software would that be? I have yet to find one that actually sounds good. The problem with the hiss and noise removals is that more often than not the end result is worse, a bit like with the digital image stabilisers; It simply takes the problem and either moves or mixes it into the rest of the track, resulting into an audible or visible wobbliness and/or other annoying distortions. Not my cup of tea.
    Therefore I often prefer not to fix minor background noise problems, unless I do it by manual cuts or fades, or try to cover them with b-roll audio track or music soundtrack.

    But if you're saying the Samsung software solution really works, that's good news, and that would be good news, and a major breakthrough in the tech.

    "But the video at the highest quality settings, and using the 1080p, 30fps is very good indeed. Unlike the big Sony a99 the video written to the memory card is very sharp and detailed."

    What about jaggies, moire and rolling shutter? And how does the flat profile look like, before grading?
    I thought the Samsungs do the usual line skipping and mediocre signal processing, just like most of the other FF and APS sensor mainstream cameras.

    But if there were no noticeable aliasing and colour moire, that would indeed make the Samsung an interesting underdog.
    Hence my curiosity, as no one seem to have bothered to give the latest Samsungs a proper video test. The NX30 in particular, which seem to be better equipped for video than the other Samsung models so far.

    "It's the production equivalent of having an outboard, large monitor."

    On the other hand, the NX30 has an uncompressed (albeit only 4:2:0) video out via the HDMI connector, along with an articulated screen and EVF.
    Hint hint, nudge nudge. ;-)

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  2. Looks good and the styling is top notch. The line across the top is a statement too. Hip is a state of mind! The samsung sounds like a very solid performer. I have to give it to Samsung they seem to be creating top notch products. Personally I am only tied to Nikon by my use of pocket Wizards and that is for TTL use when shooting my grand kids as they run around and I need to stop action.

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