Samsung's NX500, introduced earlier this year, is basically a smaller version of its NX1 flagship mirrorless camera. The main difference between them is their look, although the top model does feature better continuous shooting and shutter speeds. Inside, the NX500 packs the same APS-C, 28-megapixel sensor as its bigger sibling, along with a DRIMe Vs image processor, an ISO range of up to 51,200, NFC, WiFi and a 3-inch, tilting Super AMOLED screen. It can also shoot 4K video at 24 (4,096 x 2,160) and 30 fps (3,840 x 2,160), making it a decent future-proof option for anyone who wants to record higher resolutions than 720 or 1080p.
Thanks to its compact body, it's super light too, weighing in at only a little more than half a pound -- I only wish it wasn't mostly made out of plastic, because it does have a slightly cheap feel to it. Not a dealbreaker, perhaps, but definitely worth noting. On paper, the NX500 easily stands out from the growing list of mirrorless shooters. For the most part, though, the same can't be said about its real-world performance. The pictures and video it produces are good, but not great -- especially when compared to a direct rival like Panasonic's Lumix G7.
During my time with the camera, which was paired with a 16-50mm PZ lens, I found that it struggled a bit in low-light situations and when shooting moving subjects. That was a surprise given its top-of-the-line spec sheet. You can certainly get the shot you're looking for, but your patience will be tested. Still, the NX500 does perform well outside of those scenarios, like during the day or in well-lit places, and that may be more than enough for some people. Meanwhile, 4K movies came out looking colorful and sharp; it's also nice to have the option to shoot at either 24 or 30 fps, depending on what suits your needs. That said, I wouldn't recommend using the continuous autofocus setting in video mode, as it had trouble keeping up with subjects from time to time.
Simply put, the NX500 comes with a lot of solid attributes, including its small size, high-res pictures, 4K video and a menu system that's a pleasure to use. Just don't expect to be blown away by most of it. For $800, kit lens included, you may be better off spending the extra cash on Samsung's NX1, a camera that performed well when we tested it a few months ago. There's no doubt that the NX500 is a wonderful little camera, but I'm more excited about the potential for its second-generation model. In the meantime, here's hoping its minor quirks can be fixed via software update.
To view full-resolution sample images shot with the Samsung NX500, click here.