As many here know it takes me a while to warm up to some things and I am an "early adopter" of others. For instance, it took me nearly two years to be civil with the Olympus OMD EM-5 but I bought one of the very first EVF enabled Olympus interchangeable lens cameras to hit Texas (the EP-2 with VF-2). I embraced the EVF in the Sony a77 even quicker. But I've been a slow study with the various cameras that Samsung has sent my way. I've always been happy enough with the actual imaging but the operational aspects of both the Samsung Galaxy NX and the NX30 left me wanting something more.
I mentioned in an earlier blog today that I had occasion to compare files from two different cameras on the same shoot recently. We shot the initial images back in early September and the client involved just made their final selections a few days ago. This morning I opened a raw image from a Nikon D7100 and a raw image from the Samsung NX 30, both outfitted with 85mm lenses, and I compared them. They were of the same person in the same lighting and in the same location. A pretty convincing test I thought.
The caveat with any test like this is in the use of two different lenses. The Samsung had their 85mm 1.4 while the Nikon sported their very well reviewed 85mm 1.8G series lens. I won't bore you with the long winded discussion but suffice it to say that I was notably more impressed with the Samsung file version even though, by all measures, the Nikon should have been technically better. I went back and looked at a number of other cross samples from the same shoot and it nearly every instance the image from the much cheaper NX30 was----better. A subjective analysis but true to my vision.
After I finished doing the post processing which consisted of smoothing some skin and taking care of some wispy black hair against a light blue background I started reviewing what I knew about the newest camera from Samsung. The NX1. If what I am hearing from the company and from one of the photographers shooting that camera bears out in the final, delivered product it may represent exactly what I want in a camera. Dear camera gods, please help them get it right.
The imaging sensor should be one of the best in its APS-C class in that it's an all new, BSI technology sensor which means more space for chubbier, happier pixels. With 28 megapixels and no AA filter it should be within striking distance of the resolution of the Nikon D810 but at less than half the price.
Stop and think about it for a second. 28 million pixels on a low noise chip in a $1499 camera. But the amazing thing is that it will shoot at 15 frames per second with full AF instead of the 6 frames per second of the 810. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around that kind of throughput.
While I think that's pretty cool, gee whiz technology I'm rarely worried about the shooting speed of a camera as much as I am concerning about the usability of a camera. In that regard the NX30 wasn't bad it was just a bit slow and a bit rough. The EVF is okay but needed more resolution and much better contrast. That's supposed to be fixed in the NX1. Not just fixed but "best in class." The other handling issues were all about interface responsiveness. The switch from LCD panel to EVF was too slow and subject to uncertainty if there was a high amount of ambient light. In the first iteration the time from button push to menu implementation was too slow. And the camera was too light to feel like a precision tool.
If the viewfinder is great and the imaging quality of the sensor lives up to the initial fanfare I think it will be a camera that clouds the issue of full frame versus EVF for me. While most people seem to think that full frame is better no matter what I'm not really on that team. Fast, good glass makes up for the difference in out of focus backgrounds and fast focus fall off. The advantage on the other side of the coin is that there are probably more professional situations where it's more important to get what you need in focus than have the out of focus effect. And APS-C as well as m4:3 both do better in that regard.
Here's my hope for the NX1. A wonderful, glamorous and transparent EVF. A wonderfully done sensor with a heaping helping of dynamic range and low noise up to ISO 3200. (By that I mean that shooting at 3200 should look about like shooting at ISO 800). And fast camera response to the controls and the menus. If they get that right I'll be happy to use the camera to make enormous numbers of great portraits with the 85mm 1.4 lens I already have and love. It has always seemed like a brilliant lens looking for a compatible camera. I'll know in a week or two if that's how the story turns out. I'm not ready to be a total photo snob and only buy from long established vendors. Sometimes a bit of disruption helps move innovation while providing curious users with fun tools.
I am a little surprised that I am anticipating this one to a greater degree than most cameras. I guess the bigger the promise the greater the interest.
And, of course, I am sure our loyal VSL readers can hardly wait for me to wring out the video and see how it performs.... (a tiny bit of sarcasm..).
Won't it be funny if after their few false starts Samsung creates a camera that leapfrogs over the leaders? Well, not to surprising since they already get how important the EVF is going forward....