Since its announcement back in February the Samsung NX500, the smaller brother of the NX1, continues to create a lot of buzz in the filmmaking community, predominantly due to the ability to shoot 4K video at the attractive price of $799. The camera is currently shipping in Korea in a kit with the 16-50mm F3.5-F5.6 OIS PZ lens.
It seems that Samsung are determined to become a serious factor in the prosumer camera segment mostly dominated by the Japanese manufacturers for many years. Right before the NX500 starts shipping globally, GadgetMatch had the chance to play with the Samsung’s latest mid-range interchangeable mirrorless camera and share their initial thoughts on it.
It seems that the device is unique in its class being the world’s most affordable interchangeable lens 4K camera to date. The other competitor that gets close in a way is the Panasonic LX100 that also shoots 4K video with a similar form factor. However, it has a fixed lens and smaller sensor. The NX500 shares the same 28MP Super 35mm sensor of the NX1, yet most of the high-end features of the bigger brother NX1 are absent here as expected.
Still, the NX500 provides internal 4K H.265 recording, along with full manual controls and a touchscreen OLED display. The biggest downside for me, though, is the fact that the video in 4K and UHD mode is crippled by the crop mode that will give you a much smaller Micro 4/3-like field of view closer to a 2.3x crop. Although the cropped 4K may have some advantages such as acceptable rolling shutter, a finer noise grain and extra telephoto reach it’s a shame that one can’t utilize the full potential of the APS-C sensor.
According to Andrew Reid from EOSHD.com, the camera has no dedicated movie mode on the mode dial, and one can’t permanently display the correct framing for 4K movies in Live-view mode. The Delete button has to be pressed to activate the temporary movie-stand-by mode to frame a shot properly. The HDMI output also seems to be limited to a 1080p output along with a <50Mb/s bitrate in the top ‘HQ’ setting compared to the 80Mb/s on the NX1 in Pro mode.
The NX500 provides only the standard NX1 picture profiles without the recent NX1’s firmware updates that include Gamma DR and 23.98p and 24p in 4K UHD mode. The camera is capable of shooting DCI 4K at 24p, as well as UHD (3840 x 2160) at 25p or 30p depending on what region is set to (PAL or NTSC), and 1080p up to 60p, 30p, 25p and 24p included. The slow-mo option for 120fps is available in 720p mode only, yet interestingly enough there’s an option for 200fps greyed out in this mode. Here is how one of the first pieces of sample footage looks like.
According to Samsung, the final visual quality of the camera is better on the final production camera. However, we get an overall idea what video quality to expect from it. The NX500 also provides excellent battery life, fast and accurate autofocus in video mode, multiregional settings and, of course, the interchangeable lens system.
If you’re already an owner of the NX1, and you’re still struggling with the transcoding of the H.265 footage, you can easily convert into more edit-friendly formats by using the free RockyMountains Movie Converter available for both PC and Mac users.