Samsung NX1 – Easy 4K

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While we’re still a long way off from viewing 4K television broadcasts, 4K capture has been a reality for several years, with cameras like the RED EPIC and Sony F55 for high-end features and the Panasonic GH4 and Canon EOS-1D C for indie productions. But with this explosion of cameras, the 4K indie workflow is a work in progress. Whether you’re capturing in RAW or with an intermediate codec like ProRes or DNxHD, the files are extremely large and typically need to be output to an external recorder such as a Convergent Design Odyssey7Q or Atomos Shogun.

NX1 Key Specs
Captures both 4K DCI (4096×2160) and UHD (3840×2160) HEVC/H.265 files
Super35mm-sized, 28-megapixel BSI APS-C sensor (23.5×15.7mm)
High-speed DRIMe V image processor enables 4K processing to internal cards
Fast and accurate NX AF System III, with 205 Phase Detection AF points and 153 cross-type sensors for full focus coverage
Proprietary Samsung NX mount
Super AMOLED with touch screen (1036K dots) and OLED EVF (XGA, 2360K dots) with 100% field of view
Multi-core image processor allows 28-megapixel RAW file capture at 15 fps, a great feature for fashion photographers

Samsung is a name you normally wouldn’t associate with indie filmmaking. Sure, they make terrific mobile devices and television sets, but as a camera manufacturer, they’re a new player, especially for filmmaking. For the past few years, they have released a number of mirrorless, interchangeable-lens cameras that were aimed more at consumer shooters. But, in 2014, they released their flagship pro camera, the NX1. Samsung sent over an NX1 for review, as well as their new 50-150mm S series zoom. After playing with it for a few days, it was immediately apparent that the NX1 is a game-changing camera—in particular, how it handles 4K.

The moment I glanced at some rough handheld 4K footage I had shot with the NX1, I was blown away. I don’t own the new 5K iMac or a 4K display, so my iMac’s 2560×1440 resolution was the highest resolution I had access to. In terms of image detail on a non-4K display, it was superior to my Canon EOS 5D Mark III, as well as the Nikon D750 that I recently tested. In fact, the image quality was on par with images I shot from the Canon EOS-1D C, Blackmagic Production Camera 4K and RED SCARLET-X.

In your hands, the NX1 has a solid feel due to its magnesium-alloy body. It’s a bit larger and heavier (138.5×102.3×65.8mm, 550g) than the Sony a7S and slightly larger than the Panasonic GH4. Like most mirrorless systems, when your eye comes up to the viewfinder, the EVF engages and the LED screen shuts off. For those who can’t afford an additional EVF or LCD screen, the NX1’s two viewing screens are excellent.

Like many mirrorless systems, the NX1 feels more like a networking device than an optical one. One of the big innovators in mobile devices, Samsung has done a fantastic job with the NX1’s menu system. Navigating through the menus is both intuitive and snappy. In terms of connections, the NX1 contains a USB 3.0 connector, HDMI out, 3.5mm stereo mic input and 3.5mm headphone jack. The NX1 captures files to SD/SDHC/SDXC cards to a single slot.