Samsung might be one of the newer players in the budget mirrorless market, but they've certainly made themselves heard.
First with the impressive NX1, which for only $1,500 gave us a 28MP APS-C camera capable of 4K video at 24fps and UHD at 30fps. So what did they do for their next trick? They removed the EVF and shrunk the internals of the NX1, and stuck them into a new camera called the NX500.
Here are the specs (which are mostly the same as the NX1):
- 28.2MP 6480 x 4320 BSI APS-C CMOS sensor
- 4096 x 2160: 24 fps & 3840 x 2160: 30 fps
- 1920 x 1080: 60 fps, 30 fps, 24 fps, 50 fps, 25 fps
- 1280 x 720: 60 fps, 30 fps, 24 fps, 50 fps, 25 fps
- 640 x 480: 60 fps, 30 fps, 24 fps, 50 fps, 25 fps
- HEVC/H.265 Codec for 4K and UHD
- Tiltable 3.0″ HD 1036k-dot touchscreen
- Continuous shooting up to 9 fps
- ISO 100-25,600 (Extended Mode: 51,200)
- Micro-HDMI, USB 2.0, No Microphone or Headphone port, Built-In Mic
- 802.11b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi capability coupled with Bluetooth 3.0 technology
- 30 minute clip limit
- Samsung NX Lens Mount
- Availability: March 2015
- Price: $800 with 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 Power Zoom ED OIS Lens
First, to get a sense of the quality, here's the launch video for the NX1, as they share mostly the same internal parts (this was not shot with the new NX500):
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_LzX6S0Pac
In partnership with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Hitrecord, a short film was recently shot on the NX1 for Samsung (again, not the new NX500). I expect quality to be basically the same between these two cameras though:
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOuqGmbQy-k
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=5msi2W4DDeE
The NX1 is by no means a perfect camera just because it has a pretty large sensor and shoots 4K at a relatively affordable price. The new NX500 won't be a perfect camera either, but it will cost about half the money to get you in the door. If you're just experimenting or want to see how it is dealing with the NX mount, $800 with a lens is a much easier pill to swallow than $1,500 without a lens. A recent firmware update for the NX1 improved that camera immensely, and while the NX500 does not have 120fps like its big brother, I imagine that the current specs aren't necessarily set in stone, and we could see improvements with firmware.
While it saves on space, many have had trouble dealing with the new HEVC (H.265) codec. It's not supported as widely across all hardware and software as H.264 is, so there will still be some growing pains in these early days. One of the bigger issues that still remains is the lens system. Samsung doesn't have nearly the range and depth of lenses that other companies like Sony, Canon, and Nikon have. Metabones has also said they won't be able to make a Speed Booster for the NX mount, so if you were hoping to get a full-frame FOV with this APS-C sensor, you'll have to look elsewhere.
This camera is also missing some more of the filmmaking-specific features, like a headphone and microphone port. I'm sure in order to make the camera as small and as cheap as it is, those things were likely sacrificed. It's not totally clear, but it also does not seem like the NX500 has clean HDMI as the NX1. Considering the price, the NX500 does much of what the more expensive model can do, so these subtractions aren't really that surprising.
Either way, if you really, really want a 4K camera with interchangeable lenses, this is going to be one of the cheapest ways to get into that game.