Samsung NX mini Review

June 5, 2014 | Mark Goldstein | |

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 20.5 megapixel SuperFine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 8Mb.

A big draw of compact system cameras is they tend to use larger sensors than typical compact cameras. The NX mini is no exception, however where many other Samsung NX cameras use large APS-C-sized sensors, the NX mini uses a considerably smaller 1-inch device. In theory a smaller sensor makes it more prone to image noise and less able to capture fine detail, but thankfully the NX mini doesn't fall too deep into such pitfalls.

In good light and at lower ISO sensitivities images have vibrant colours with plenty of detail, though don't expect quite the same sharpness as an APS-C sensor can generate. ISO800 shots are almost as crisp, and even ISO1600 images maintain high levels of detail and eliminate colour speckling. ISO3200 sees fine details falling foul of noise reduction processing, but images are still very usable at this setting and it's only at ISO6400 that detail loss and blotchy colours become distracting.

What's more likely to smear detail is the lack of image stabilisation in the 9mm lens. Although the camera will use higher sensor sensitivities to keep shutter speeds fast, without a sensor-shift stabilisation system built into the camera body you'll need to hold very steady indoors to avoid blurred shots from slight camera shake.

The 9mm lens itself isn't a pin-sharp performer either, though corner sharpness is consistent with the centre of frame and it does a great job of avoiding chromatic aberration (purple fringing) in high contrast areas. The NX mini itself doesn't have an overly wide dynamic range, however its tendency to slightly underexpose some contrasty scenes does at least mean highlights are rarely blown and shadows can be lifted in post-production.

Noise

The NX mini has eight sensitivity settings available at full resolution, ranging between ISO160 and ISO12800.

ISO 160 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso160.jpg iso200.jpg
   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso800.jpg
   

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso3200.jpg
   

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

iso6400.jpg iso12800.jpg

File Quality

Seven quality options can be selected for recorded photos. Three JPEG compression settings – Super Fine, Fine and Normal – result in file sizes around 8MB, 5MB and 3.5MB respectively. You can also shoot RAW and have files around 20MB a piece, or use a combination of RAW with one of the three JPEG quality options.

20M SuperFine (7.87Mb) (100% Crop) 20M Fine (4.87Mb) (100% Crop)
quality_superfine.jpg quality_fine.jpg
   
20M Normal (3.25Mb) (100% Crop)  
quality_normal.jpg  

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are a little soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can also change the in-camera sharpening level.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
   
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

Flash

The camera's built-in flash includes seven modes: Smart Flash (which adapts to the amount of ambient lighting), Auto, Auto Red-eye, Fill in, Fill in Red, 1st curtain and 2nd curtain modes. Our testing showed the flash produces only minor vignetting with the 9mm lens from a distance of 1.5m and successfully eliminates any trace of red-eye. If the GN4-rated internal flash doesn't pack enough punch, then the NX mini has a socket on its top panel which can accept the NX mini external flash which has a GN7 rating.

Off - Wide Angle (9mm)

Fill-in - Wide Angle (9mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Fill-in or the Fill-in + Red-eye reduction settings caused any red-eye.

Fill-in

Fill-in (100% Crop)
flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg
   

Fill-in + Red-eye reduction

Fill-in + Red-eye reduction (100% Crop)

flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg

Night

The camera's Smart mode also includes a Night setting. This isn't a long exposure mode, though in our testing a relatively slow shutter speed of 1/8-second still meant a tripod was necessary to avoid camera shake when using the unstabilised 9mm lens.

Night

Night (100% Crop)

night1.jpg night1a.jpg

Picture Wizard

Enter the Picture Wizard menu and a further nine colour effects are revealed: Standard, Vivid, Portrait, Landscape, Forest, Retro, Cool, Calm and Classic, plus an extra three custom colour preset settings.

Standard

Vivid

picture_wizard_01.jpg picture_wizard_02.jpg
   

Portrait

Landscape

picture_wizard_03.jpg picture_wizard_04.jpg
   

Forest

Retro

picture_wizard_05.jpg picture_wizard_06.jpg
   

Cool

Calm

picture_wizard_07.jpg picture_wizard_08.jpg
   

Classic

 
picture_wizard_09.jpg  

Smart Filters

Samsung equips the NX mini with just four Smart Filters: Vignetting, miniature, Sketch and Fish Eye.

Vignetting

miniature

smart_filter_01.jpg smart_filter_02.jpg
   

Sketch

Fish Eye

smart_filter_03.jpg smart_filter_04.jpg

Panorama

The NX mini will automatically capture panoramic shots. Enter the Smart mode, select ‘Panorama', then press and hold the shutter whilst sweeping right, left, up or down. Unlike many cameras which force you to keep panning for at least 120 degrees, the NX mini will let you stop the pan wherever you like, although whatever the width, the end results are downsized to around 1050 vertical pixels.

Horizontal Panorama
panorama1.jpg