Samsung claims a maximum autofocus speed of 0.08 seconds courtesy of the Samsung NX300's combined phase detection and contrast AF system. It has 105 phase detection focus points, and 247 contrast focus points.
It works well in general use, even in poor light, and the option to tap the screen to set the point of focus manually is much quicker than stepping between a limited number of points using hardware buttons. It also sports face detection for up to a maximum of 10 faces in any frame.
Detail is crisp in both raw files and in-camera JPEGs, and colours are spot on, in images shot both in well-lit conditions and under overcast skies.
How to use your new digital camera
Shooting a test grid revealed some barrel distortion, though, with a slight fall-off in the sharpness towards the corners and edges on examination of the raw files, but if you're shooting JPEGs this won't be an issue, as the in-camera conversion ironed it out.
Metering was accurate throughout our tests, with the Samsung NX300 performing well under both overcast and clear skies. It wasn't foxed by strong contrasts such as a dark subject in front of an overcast sky. And even when the darker matter was the metered point, the sky remained textured and wasn't burned out.
The camera enables multi, centre-weighted and spot metering, with 221 metering points arranged across the frame.
White balance is easily controlled through the lens using the iFn button and focus ring. It has eight predefined light sources, including three different fluorescent settings, plus custom and manual options.
We performed our tests with the Samsung NX300 set primarily to auto, but shot some frames with the camera set to the appropriate white balance selection for comparison. The results were barely distinguishable from those achieved in auto, indicating that the camera does a good job on its own.
You can tweak the presets by adjusting the bias on a four-way scale for green, blue, magenta and amber through seven steps in each direction.
The maximum sensitivity setting on the NX300 is ISO 25600, at which point there's naturally considerable grain across the frame. However, you can comfortably take it to ISO 800 before you'll start to see any grain at 100% on screen, and even at ISO 3200 fine detail remains very clear.
It's therefore generally safe to leave the Samsung NX300 to make up its own mind about sensitivity and only restrain it manually if you're after a particular outcome, such as forcing a long exposure at a wide aperture in gloomy surroundings.
If you're shooting raw and JPEG files side by side then you'll notice some slight smoothing taking place as part of the in-camera JPEG processing, which helps to reduce noise at middling sensitivities, but also softens off a little of the detail at the shadow end of the scale.
Our tests reveal that the NX300 is capable of resolving lots of detail, but as is often the case, the kit lens doesn't make the best of the cameras pixel count.
The Samsung NX300's in-camera JPEG conversion is excellent. It has a light touch and doesn't introduce compression artefacts into the converted file, which explains why the most complex JPEGs came in at over 12MB.
The conversion also tones down noise in low-light, high ISO images, and very effectively fixed the barrel distortion that revealed itself when shooting a test grid using the bundled 18-55mm kit lens.
You can shoot JPEGs and raw files side by side, with three levels of compression: normal, fine and superfine.