Samsung goes for the pro market with the stunning NX1

Can a compact system camera really tackle professional systems head-on? This has the makings of a real upset...

Samsung clearly means business with the NX1. It's a D-SLR style compact system camera, so it handles just like a regular D-SLR but it's a little smaller, a little lighter and has an electronic viewfinder.

These devices used to look grainy and sluggish compared to an optical viewfinder, but the technology is changing fast, and the super-high resolution 2,260k-dot OLED (organic light-emitting diode) display in the Samsung NX1 is state of the art.

That's not all. The NX1 uses a new APS-C format CMOS sensor using the back-illumination technology first introduced in the compact camera market. The electronic circuitry is at the back of the sensor so that the light-sensitive photodiodes can capture more light.

With 28 million pixels, this sensor offers the highest resolution yet for an APS-C format camera, but the improved light efficient should mean it can still deliver good image quality even at the upper end of its ISO 100-25,600 sensitivity range (it even offers an 'expanded' ISO 51,200 setting).

Faster, faster

Even this isn't the main story, though, because the Samsung NX1 can shoot continuously at an amazing 15 frames per second, with continuous autofocus enabled. That's almost 50% faster than Canon and Nikon's professional sports/action D-SLRs.

It also has a 205-point autofocus system which combines the speed advantages of phase-detection focus technology with the convenience of live view – you can use either the electronic viewfinder or the 3-inch Super AMOLED, 1,036k-dot touch screen on the back.

There's even a status LCD on the top of the camera, a feature never seen before on a compact system camera and confined only to the more advanced models in the digital SLR market.

Pro appeal

Samsung clearly wants this camera to appeal to professionals and serious enthusiasts. The body is made from magnesium alloy, the buttons and dials have water and dust-resistant seals and you can get an optional battery grip which extends the shooting time and offers vertical controls for extended portrait photography sessions, for example.

The Samsung NX1 can also shoot 4K UHD (ultra high definition) movies at speeds up to 30fps, saving them using the H.265 codec, which Samsung says is twice as efficient for file size and bit rate as the H.264 format currently used for HD movies.

To top it off, Samsung has also announced a new 50-150mm f/2.8 S ED OIS lens, a premium professional zoom optic equivalent to 75-225mm on a full frame camera. A professional lens system is essential if this camera is to make serious inroads into the professional market.

There are lots of new cameras arriving at the moment, but the Samsung NX1 looks like it could be the biggest scene-stealer of all, because it's exciting, powerful and unexpected.