The Samsung NX1000 is the entry-level model in Samsung's latest generation of NX line compact system cameras (CSCs).
With an RRP of £599 / US$699 / AU$649 (and a street price that's come down considerably since its launch), the plastic-bodied, 20.3 megapixel Samsung NX1000 is clearly aimed at photographers looking to take the next step with their photography and take more control over the picture-taking process.
Key to the Samsung NX1000's rather impressive spec sheet for a camera of this class is its aforementioned 20.3 million pixel APS-C CMOS sensor, an ISO range stretching from 100 to 12,800 and Full HD movie recording.
It also boasts two of Samsung's signature features: built-in Wi-Fi connectivity and its iFunction lens technology, which enables you to make adjustments to manual settings such as aperture, shutter speed, ISO, white balance and exposure compensation simply by pressing a button on the lens. By rotating the lens' focus ring, photographers can fine tune a composition.
Other key features include 8fps continuous shooting, Sweep Panorama functionality, six Smart Filters that apply a range of creative effects to your photos, and an iScene mode, which enables photographers to select scene modes via the lens.
Lastly, there's no built-in flash or viewfinder on the Samsung NX1000, but there is a hotshoe, and the camera comes with a small flash unit that slides into the hotshoe.
Available in white, black and pink, the Samsung NX1000 comes bundled with a 20-50mm lens.
Build quality and handling
Though plastic-bodied cameras have become passé, the Samsung NX1000 doesn't feel like any old plastic camera. The plastic is thick, the camera feels robust, and despite our best efforts, there were none of those hollow sounds you hear when tapping plastic camera bodies.
What's more, the doors and buttons are all tight and secure, and you get a sense that the camera was carefully constructed. The camera also benefits from metal buttons and tripod and lens mounts, which give it the added feel of quality construction.
While not as small as other entry-level CSCs on the market, such as the Panasonic GF5 and Olympus PEN Mini E-PM2, it is perfectly sized and contoured for our hands. Subtle and sensible grips on the front - and a thumb grip on the back - keep the camera secure, and during our tests it never felt in danger of slipping away.
Also, while other entry-level CSCs may be a bit smaller, their kit lenses can be rather large. And the Samsung 20-50mm kit lens is very small and light.
With the lens mounted, we were able to carry the Samsung NX1000 sans camera bag in the pocket of a winter coat during a forest hike.
Our only niggles with the build are with the camera's button layout. While the camera always feels secure, when shooting landscape-orientation photos your thumb covers the Fn button (it lies just under the knuckle), and when shooting portrait-orientation photos your thumb covers the one-touch movie record button.
Most of the time this was fine, but on a few occasions we accidentally pressed these buttons, causing us to have to stop and recompose.
That said, the traditional mode dial on the camera's top plate is a really nice touch and a fast, simple way to switch between modes. The Samsung NX1000's 3-inch LCD screen is also quite bright and easily viewable in bright sunlight or under a dark forest canopy.
On the camera's top plate is a Smart Link button that connects to your preferred Wi-Fi network. You can then select files to share with your smartphone, social networking site or simply back up your files by transferring them to a PC.
In Wi-Fi mode you are presented with a number of interesting options. MobileLink enables you to connect a smartphone to your camera and copy photos and videos from the camera to your phone. Remote Viewfinders enables you to capture and preview images from your smartphone by downloading an app.
Social Sharing enables you to upload images and videos to your social networking sites. You can Email photos, Auto Backup images by transferring them wirelessly to your PC and play back photos and videos on any device via TV Link when it is connect to the same wireless access point. Finally, you can also upload photos to store on SkyDrive.
And the Samsung NX1000's Wi-Fi connectivity was excellent in use. It always found our preferred network and connected quickly, even when our iPad, for instance, couldn't. Typing in email addresses and passwords can be a little cumbersome using the wheel to scroll through and press each letter, but it is still a nice feature.
Playback mode, however, is a combination of excitement and frustration. It took us a while to figure out that the only way to zoom into photos is to press the OK button in the centre of the wheel on the back of the camera. And then to zoom in further, you must rotate the wheel clockwise.
It's a simple enough process, but when most other cameras have a simple, one-button zoom feature in image playback, it does seem rather cumbersome.
What's more, viewing your images as thumbnails in playback mode is a lot more complex than it needs to be. Once in playback mode you must press the Menu button to enter the playback menu. Then you must scroll through the options, select the thumbnail view setting and choose the number you would like displayed per screen. It seems an unnecessary number of steps.
That said, the Samsung NX1000's playback mode offers a number of interesting editing options via the Fn button. Simply press the Fn button and you'll see a menu offering the opportunity to apply the NX1000's various Smart Filter effects, Red-eye fix, apply Backlight (to brighten a dark subject), resize your photo, rotate an image, apply Face Retouch, adjust Brightness, Contrast or add Vignetting.
It's a great range of options to have, and we found them very useful - in fact, saving a few shots that would have otherwise been wasted.
The Samsung NX1000's movie mode was also very pleasant to use. Photographers have the option of making adjustments to metering, white balance, ISO and AF mode, as well as using any of the Picture Wizard colour options, during video recording.
Other features to note - like its older sibling, the Samsung NX210, which it sits below in Samsung's lineup, the NX1000 offers a custom function button on the back of the camera.
However, it lacks the NX210's exposure compensation button; instead, this is included in the four-way button (the bottom option). The Samsung NX1000 also offers a micro HDMI port (the NX210 offers mini HDMI).
In terms of the camera's menus, it couldn't be any simpler to use. There are three pages of record mode options offering the standard fare, along with a few interesting features such as Framing Mode and Picture Wizard's image colour options. Scrolling to and hovering on an option brings up a dialog box explaining what each one does.