Performance and battery life
Settings adjustments aside, the Galaxy NX did a fantastic job in camera mode. It was also very reliable when it came to accessing email, uploading and viewing images, sharing social media updates and even helping me wake up in the morning (there's a speaker and vibration mechanism, which pair nicely with the alarm clock app, just like on a smartphone). It served me well during this vacation, but to take full advantage of Android, you'll need to use the camera daily, even at home. After having it powered off for a couple days, I returned to find dozens of Twitter, Instagram, Hangouts and Google Voice notifications. While they're easy enough to dismiss, it's still a process that I'd prefer to avoid.
Of course, one of the biggest issues with using a camera that runs Android is a delayed start-up. When it's completely powered down, the NX takes a reasonable 28 seconds to boot up before you're ready to snap your first shot. Fortunately, a short press of the power button simply turns off the display, just as it would on a phone, and launching back into the camera from standby takes less than five seconds. In this regard, it's certainly not as speedy as a traditional ILC, but depending on your subject, it should do the trick. You can also configure the NX to jump right into the camera app whenever you press the shutter button, so if you see something you'd like to shoot, but you're currently sending an email or reading a webpage, it's easy enough to switch modes for a moment.
Just like the NX300, the Galaxy can snap continuous shots at eight frames per second. It also sports an identical hybrid-autofocus system, and adjustments there are consistently speedy and accurate, even in low light. Nighttime shooters will also be pleased to know that the NX can snap stills with a sensitivity of ISO 25,600 -- we'll speak to those results a bit more in the section below, but it's definitely a possibility, especially when you're capturing images to share on the web. You can also shoot stills in RAW. On the video front, expect 1080p video at 30 frames per second or 720p at 60 fps, with generally solid audio capture, too.
Battery life is phenomenal. After deplorable performance with last year's Galaxy Camera, I was definitely concerned about the NX making it through a full day. In practice, however, I had nothing to worry about, as long as I charged the battery overnight. While shooting on Halloween, I spent the day exploring Shanghai, returning to the hotel nine hours later with a 32 percent charge remaining. When you factor in the Google Maps browsing, emailing, Instagram sharing, Foursquare check-ins, 128 photos and nearly three minutes of 1080p video I was able to capture along the way, that's solid performance. Of course, I'd expect nothing less from a 4,360mAh battery pack, but it's great to see that Samsung planned ahead here.
IQ-wise, the Galaxy NX is an NX300 through and through. That means image quality is top-notch, and more than adequate for the casual shooting you'll probably be doing. In fact, if the interface wasn't so cumbersome and the camera body so large, I wouldn't hesitate to switch to the NX for all of my important shoots at trade shows and launch events. It's really that great. Let's take a look at some samples.
This shot of the Grand Hotel in Taipei was captured just before landing at Songshan Airport. The camera was set to auto mode, and opted for a perfect exposure of 1/250 second at f/6.3 and a sensitivity of ISO 100. The image looks perfectly sharp until you zoom all the way in, as you can tell from the 100 percent view in the top-right corner. Even so, while perfectionists may have opted for a higher-quality lens in order to capture even more detail, this frame is perfectly adequate for prints or sharing on the web.
Food can always present a challenge for even the most capable camera, but the Galaxy NX did a fair job exposing for the uneven lighting on this EVA Air flight between Tokyo and Taipei. Colors and sharpness look great in this 1/50-second, f/4 shot, captured with a sensitivity of ISO 400.
It was a rainy day in Zurich, but the NX didn't seem to mind. Colors are vibrant and details are fantastically sharp in this 1/80-second, f/5.6 exposure at ISO 800. There is some mild blooming around the text in the 100-percent inset, but you'll only notice it with a 1:1-pixel view on a computer monitor.
The Galaxy NX had quite a night in Tokyo, as you'll probably gather from the slideshow below (and the full-res samples at the source link way down at the bottom). This group shot was captured at 1/50 second with an aperture of f/3.5 and a sensitivity of ISO 3200, but it looks fantastic, even when viewed at 100 percent.
Judging from the 100-percent inset, ISO 25,600 presented some challenges for the Galaxy NX, but even the most capable of smartphones wouldn't have been able to snap a shot with this level of sharpness and detail. A 1/30-second exposure at f/3.5 helped to minimize blur, and all things considered, this is a perfectly respectable performance.
I opted for the NX's "Rich Tone" (HDR) mode when photographing the Shanghai skyline. There was plenty of haze in Pudong, but the camera still did a decent job capturing detail. You can even make out some hotel names in the distance, such as Kempinski in the inset above. Since this was an auto-HDR shot, we don't have exposure information to share, but the NX performed well given the circumstances.
One advantage of shooting with a touchscreen-equipped camera is that you can take full advantage of Samsung's "Beauty Face" mode, which blurs skin and shrinks heads to make your subject CoverGirl-ready. It struggled a bit with my unshaven face, but it's still a fun tool to play with -- especially when you've put on a few pounds after a week of street noodles and buffet breakfasts in Asia.