Sunday, 26 April 2015

Samsung NX1: Frames per second

"This content was created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics. Co. Ltd."

So, on to the last "main" thing that Samsung seem to be pushing in terms of the NX1... the frame rate. The Samsung NX1 boasts an impressive 15 frames per second (fps). Yep, that's right... 15! In fact, I was told this is one of the main reasons why they asked me to test the camera, because they thought the 15fps would be good for wildlife. Where they right?...

Well. Yes... and No... but mainly yes! And I think where the camera did let me down, it wasn't due to the fps but due to other aspects. Let's have a look. 


"This content was created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics. Co. Ltd."

Firstly, who is going to turn down 15fps?.. No one, its an amazing frame rate, and if you don't like it you have two options. With the NX1 you can change it down to a slower setting, either 8fps, 10fps or 12fps. Your second option, which you could do with any camera, just take one photo!

As with everything about this camera I tried to go in open minded, but having used top range DSLR's I couldn't help but have some things cross my mind. The main thing, would the autofocus on the camera/lens be able to keep up with the 15fps for a moving subject, secondly, would the buffer be able to cope in saving these images. 


"This content was created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics. Co. Ltd."

So let's start with the buffer. For those that aren't photographers, very simply every time a photo is taken it has to be saved to the memory card. Lots of things can determine the speed it does this, and if you take lots of photos in a short space of time that's a lot it needs to save... after a while it begins to slow down taking the photos, while some you have already taken are "buffering" waiting to be saved to the card. At 15 fps, you can imagine you can take a lot of photos in a very short space of time. So how does this crunch in to numbers...

For the photo guys out there that want the memory card speed, I used  SanDisk Ultra 40MB/s, 16GB card!

Shooting in RAW format, and holding down the shutter in good conditions, the NX1 took 20 photographs before the buffer started to slow... just over a second. Very good in most situations.

Shooting in the highest quality jpeg, holding down the shutter and the NX1 took 72 photographs before the buffer kicked in!


"This content was created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics. Co. Ltd."
The best thing about the 15fps was no doubt the options it gave you when looking back at your images. I mentioned in a previous post, even if the subject and you stayed still, you had the odd one or two that were out of focus... no idea why... so taking 15fps would mean you had a good range to choose from.

A beauty with wildlife, is that even in a short burst they can show little nuances in their pose that make a particular image stand out. For example, with the weasel at the top. Normally I would wait and take a couple of photos as she poked her head out of the hole in the log. Because I was testing the NX1, I just held the shutter down for a second. 15 photos, all the same, but just this one that caught her tongue out!

The NX1, with its 15fps, has been a pleasure to use with the adders. They stay in roughly the same place when dancing, but move at an incredible speed when wrestling with each other on the spot. The 15fps allowed me to keep snapping, catching the little differences in movement and motion, and then pick my favourite from these to use.

Likewise above with the wildcat. Macavity started to snarl, I pressed the button... again, wouldn't normally take this many, but since testing the camera rattled off about 30 photos. Yes most of those looked exactly the same, but they picked up the slight movements of the paw being drawn back in each frame, the back slightly arching and the eyes closing. I could pick the one I thought best... half closed eyes, paw ready to snatch.

15fps certainly gives you options.


"This content was created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics. Co. Ltd."

When the animal is not moving, as in not changing place, it is great. But what about where movement is concerned. Of course this is due to tracking, and focus speed, but I think fits in with this post.

I didn't allow the camera to track the animal, apart from a couple of tests. Why, because I never do. The way I see it, the more I am in control of, the less the camera is and so the less it can get wrong. I did try the tracking on a plane flying over in the sky on a bright blue day. It was faultless... kept the plane in focus and tracked it all the way out of the view finder. In poor conditions though, it really did struggle to stay on the animal. If there was little contrasts between the animal or background, or it was dark, it was very hit and miss. All cameras struggle with this, but other can handle it better... especially others in the NX1 price range. 

So... I was tracking the animal. Difficult, yes, but not to be arrogant I have had enough practice I am pretty good at it now. When the animal was moving across the view finder, the focus was fine. I had to guess where the animal would be as the view finder kept showing me the last image I took for a millisecond or so, but after I got used to the pace of the animal I could second guess this. The camera stayed in focus on the animal, and the 15fps worked great... all be it with one or two a little soft, as mentioned before, and I still can't understand. 


"This content was created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics. Co. Ltd."

One of the hardest things for the camera to track is an animal coming towards you, could the NX1 keep up with this. Yes... but it was a unreliable. Don't get me wrong, this is tough! And most cameras would struggle, and it could be the lens or other factors, but it did get it in some circumstances. 

As is the case with everything I have said so far about the NX1, in good conditions it was good, in difficult conditions it was capable but struggled a lot more. 

The owl above was on a slightly overcast afternoon, they fly fast... especially with the wind behind her we had that day!, and as you can see. I could get a nice sharp image in focus, but the camera then struggled to hold the focus on the owl between each frame. Normally I would get three or four in a sequence in focus, but with the NX1 I was lucky to get a second.


"This content was created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics. Co. Ltd."

As I said at the beginning of this post though, you can change the settings to 8, 10, 12 or 15 fps. So I went out one evening to test this with my faithful companion, "Bess"

This was one evening, beautiful light, obvious contrast difference between her and the background, and she was not moving that fast. Moving towards me, but at a trotting speed as opposed to a full on run.

My theory, I would have more frames in focus at 8fps than 15... the camera has more time to track and keep up... What I found... the complete opposite!

Now maybe I was doing something wrong, but I actually had a higher percentage hit rate of in focus photographs at 15fps. The only thing I can think of is the camera had less time to focus between shot, and so less time to worry about searching to make sure it was correct. 


"This content was created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics. Co. Ltd."

So. 15 frames per second... any good?.. Yes. I loved it, I won't lie, and with patience you can get some great stuff with it with moving subjects too, but in poor conditions it does struggle. For fast moving animals towards me, I don't think I could rely on it as I can my other camera, but as I say this could be due to more than the NX1 its self.

But for fast moving action that stays in the same space, such as the adders which have been on top form this week, it was incredible and a real pleasure to use! I can honestly say some of my favourite dancing adder photos this year where taken with the Samsung NX1!




Friday, 24 April 2015

Samsung NX1: ISO Performance


ISO 100 Full frame

Some lovely feedback from the NX1 posts, thank you, only a few more to go then back to just sharing extra photos from around the BWC! :-)

This is an extra post I am putting up today. I had a few people ask me to show the photos at an ISO of less than 400, and at the highest setting of 25600, so thought I would do all values. 

For the non photographers out there, may be best to skip this post... it is nine photos of the same thing, with another nine showing a 100% crop. Probably a bit boring, but check back in next time to see some photos I use to show of the frame rate. Probably up live over the weekend. 

For the photographers out there... I was asked to show different ISO's on the same photo and crop. The different photos I used in the last post I admit make it harder to compare as different image and crops, my mistake on the second bit, so here is a fair comparison.

Firstly, all these photos were taken within a minute and are all straight from camera with no editing done what so ever... except the obvious crop to show each one at 100%

Secondly, although a rather bland photograph, I deliberately chose this to show noise in the detail and the blacks of the image.

Thirdly, all shot as single shot so that I could select the higher ISO values. Full frame meter, aperture f/8, exposure -1.3 and at 150mm. 

Finally. It goes with out say really, but "All this content was created by the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics. Co. Ltd."

So photograph above is ISO 100, and the 100 crop below. I have said my thoughts on the ISO in my previous post, so will leave this up to you...


ISO 100 Crop

 Next two photos at ISO 200...


ISO 200 Full frame

ISO 200 Crop

 Next two at ISO 400...


ISO 400 Full frame

ISO 400 Crop

 Next two at ISO 800...


ISO 800 Full frame

ISO 800 Crop

 Next two at ISO 1600...


ISO 1600 Full frame

ISO 1600 Crop

 Next two at ISO 3200...


ISO 3200 Full frame

ISO 3200 Crop

 Next two at ISO 6400...


ISO 6400 Full frame

ISO 6400 Crop

 Next two at ISO 12800...


ISO 12800 Full frame

ISO 12800 Crop

 Last two at ISO 25600...


ISO 25600 Full frame

ISO 25600 Crop

OK, i will give my thoughts again :-)

Overall I am impressed. Even up to 6400 I would be happy with for smaller res images for websites etc when full frame, maybe not cropped, and happy up to 3200 for any use. Of course, the lower the better and that does show.

However, even 12800 and 25600 when full frame are not that bad, and passable for web sharing. Obviously a lot of noise is there, and obviously more noticeable at 100% crop, but at the end of the day as I keep telling people, if you have to use a higher ISO, do!.. Don't be afraid to push it. Much better to have a sharp image with some noise, than no image at all.

Thanks for looking :-)

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Samsung NX1: More thoughts

"This content is created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd."

Look... the adders have been dancing! I'll share some photos at the end of next week, but for now will continue with my thoughts on the Samsung NX1.

Look back to my previous post for initial thoughts, and my conclusions will be early next week.



I am one for a camera having to be comfortable in the hand, and easy to use. You don't want that being an obstacle. Bit of a cliché I guess, but you have to feel like the camera is an extension of you and use it without second thought. I am so used to my Nikon, that I can change settings on the fly without my eye leaving the view finder.

The Samsung NX1 is a comfortable camera in the hand, it would be unfair to compare it to any other camera in this area, as this is all down to personal preference and what you get used to. But it certainly wasn't a pain to have to pick up and use. I mentioned in the last post I felt it was not built to the high standard of other DSLR's in it's price range... feels a bit less solid, protected and the bits that move feel flimsier, but I have had no problems with it up to now.



As with the build, button position is a preference thing and what you get used too. Overall things seem logical on the NX1, but for me personally I think they could improve on it. As I say, I like to change things on the fly... I could do this for most settings that I tinker with, but ISO was difficult and I found myself having to pull away from the view finder. You can a function button on the lens to anything though, so this would be an option.

As someone who uses single point focus, and moves it with the circle button on the back, it was a bit of a stretch with the thumb to use and could of been easier if placed higher. When shooting in portrait mode... it was a real stretch, and quite uncomfortable. A second joystick on the vertical camera grip wold solve this.

The displays were good, and the rear display is simply beautiful! The whole camera is a nice looking thing, but to me just doesn't look like a £2,500 piece of kit.


"This content is created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd."

The main selling points I have been seeing are the mega pixels, frames per second and ISO. I'll mention FPS at the end of the week, and briefly the others now.

The megapixels are 28mp. This is over double what my Nikon has available... I thought I may not notice it. Not being funny, I think megapixels are sometimes over rated. I can blow up my images to billboard size for the Centre with the 12mp the Nikon offers me as long as the image is good enough in camera, but I soon realised the options extra mp gives you.

The photo above is as it was taken in camera, and below a fairly heavy crop...


"This content is created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd."

Still retains all the detail, and I could blow this crop up to a very large size with no loss of quality. Basically, if using the whole frame, the extra mp don't matter. But what the extra mp does do is gives you the option to heavily crop a photo and still have it retain the quality to use at large sizes.

More crops are below to show off the ISO.

Samsung are hailing the high ISO as vein innovative, and producing crystal clear images virtually free of noise even at 25600! I looked at this with a pinch of salt... all new cameras promise revolutionary improvements in noise at high ISO, and few truly deliver, but I was fairly impressed. Certainly no worse than any other camera I have used.


"This content is created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd."

This image was taken at ISO 400, and below is a crop. I rarely shoot lower than 400 hence no lower ISO images.


"This content is created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd."

Not sure who this will appear once uploaded and compressed for the blog, but there is no noise.


"This content is created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd."

Photographing at ISO 800, and again a crop below.


"This content is created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd."

Minimal noise, and easily comparable to other cameras I have used.


"This content is created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd."

This little owl was shot with an ISO of 1600.


"This content is created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd."

The crop shows noise is now creeping in. Remember, I don't do any noise reduction, this is all straight from camera. Personally I think this image is good at 1600... Uncropped it is hardly noticeable, and even zoomed in it is comparable to most other cameras at his range, and better than many I have used.


"This content is created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd."

Finally, this stoat shot at 3200. Full frame, again not really that noticeable and better than many cameras out there I have used, only bettered by the high end Nikon and Canon cameras.

The crop below shows more noise creeping in, but keep in mind this is 3200 in dull conditions. I was impressed.


"This content is created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd."

The camera goes up to 25600. I have no more examples to show you here, but have tried them all... In high continuous shooting mode you can only set the ISO up to 6400. Not sure why, but on single frame or slow continuous shutter you can set it up to the max of 25600.

12800 and 25600 personally I think are not too great. Maybe my expectations are too high, but even uncropped you can see a lot of noise creeping in. Still usable, and I have to say far better than the Nikon I am currently using, but not the "crystal clear" they claim. 6400 is not too bad, and I would push it to this if I had to, but would try and keep to 3200 or below. 800 and below if thinking I need to crop it heavily later.

Anyway, few more thoughts for you there. Frames per second at the end of the week, with a round up the following week. I won't forget the dancing adders... if all goes to schedule, that will be the end of next week. May be able to get a few more of them in the meantime.

Thanks for looking :-)

Friday, 17 April 2015

Samsung NX1 Day

"This content is created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd."

After a long wait, the Samsung thing is pretty much now over. I know some of you were interested on how I found the camera though, so I have a couple of posts lined up for next week rounding it all up with my "conclusions" at the end of the week.

I have had the camera for a few months now, but due to an impromptu photographic day we hosted yesterday, decided to tag along with only the Samsung NX1 in my hand to put it through a days paces. All the photos here were taken yesterday.

A brief bit for the photographers out there. These were all shot in jpeg... I usually shoot RAW, but the editing software I use can not yet read the NX1 RAW file. I did try installing lightroom (which can read it) but the learning curve was took much for me to pick up in a short time frame... I am not an editor! 

I don't think this hampers me much though for the NX1, as I do minimal... and I really do mean minimal editing. Simple crops, and on occasion a slight tweak in contrast and or saturation. That is it. I prefer to get it how I want it in camera. 


"This content is created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd."

The first thing I want to say is about the screen on the back... It is brilliant! I will admit I was the first to think, "what a gimmick". Thought I would never use it, but I found myself using it quite a bit to save lying down or contorting my body into awkward shapes just to get a photo. It is the best screen on the back of a camera I have seen, so vivid and clear.

It is a touch screen, so you can set it up to focus where you touch on the screen and even to take the photo too. The results are great, and no lack in quality compared to using the view finder. When I could use the viewfinder though, I did... just too used to it I guess. Also the bright sun can hamper using the screen in in the wrong place.

The screen can only be pulled out slightly, and tilted upwards as in the photo above. Would be nice if it was more flexible, especially for low angle portrait shots.

I quickly noticed too that it saps the battery life! The camera is mirror less, so the battery doesn't last as long as a mirrored camera anyway, but with using the screen about half the time for approximately 800 photos... It only just lasted the day from a full charge!


"This content is created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd."

Being mirror less, looking through the view finder you are looking at a little digital screen. If you come from a mirror camera... this takes some getting used too. I could tell it wasn't the "real thing" I was seeing, but I did get used to it.

The positive thing about it is you can see the changes you make in the camera, and what the image will look like. If you lower the exposure for example, then the viewfinder shows the darker image just as it will be captured. You have to use experience to know what it will look like on a mirror camera. No problem for those that have done it for a while, but tricky for beginners.

What I did find difficult though was that when you take a photo, for a fraction of time... maybe even only a millisecond, it showed the image you took in the view finder before changing back to the live feed. It was so brief many may not notice even, but being used to not having this it really stuck out to me. Not too bad for portraits, but for action shots it really throws you off guard. If an animal was moving, I had to predict where it was going to be in the frame for each shot, as I could only see the last image I took. To be honest, this pretty much made it hopeless for fast moving animals unless they were coming straight towards you on the same line.

You can see with the panning shot above... I would keep the focus on the head normally, and tried to here, but having to guess where the fox was for each shot mean't I was nearly always wrong... focus being on the body for this one. Any I did get was luck.


"This content is created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd."

15 frames per second is great though, really good in fact. I will talk more about this in the next post, but it really does give you options in some situations.


"This content is created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd."

You can focus fairly close, and it has all the options of a normal DSLR... so you can throw the backgrounds right out to create clear portraits.

I found that if I was taking a portrait where I didn't move, and the animal didn't move, and took 2 or 3 pics in a burst... nearly every time one of them would be out of focus slightly. Not sure why.


"This content is created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd."

Yesterday really was a great day. Weather was kind to us, and the camera is so light weight for a DSLR that it was a pleasure to carry around all day.

The build quality is OK, but nothing compared to the 'big boys'. The pop up flash, although something I would never use, feels flimsy and the shutter button and on/off switch just don't feel as secure... good enough though. I would imagine it wouldn't do as well in poorer weather conditions... I would be more reluctant to take it out in the rains for example.

I also noticed that the larger lens, 50-150, often popped up a message on my screen saying "lens detached" and then "lens attached" again. Not the end of the world, but it did mean any focus I had was reset and I has to re focus. Just to note though... this did not happen on the kit lens, 16-50.


"This content is created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd."

Talking of the focus. It is good... But just good...

In good conditions, it is spot on... really sharp photos and perfectly in focus. In slightly poorer conditions, low light or less contrasty, then it is not always spot on and sometimes a little soft. Sometimes takes a while searching for what you want it to focus on. This is true for many cameras of course, but for £2,500 I would expect more... like what I am used to.

Speed of focus is good... but just good...

As above. In clear conditions, obvious contrast, it is fast! But in difficult conditions, it struggles to keep up. You can still get your photos, but it is harder to get them.

I like backlight, and although I could still get these pictures, it was more of a struggle.


"This content is created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd."

After a morning with the mammals, we spent an afternoon in the woods with the owls. A little darker, and some flying actions would really test the camera for wildlife.


"This content is created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd."

ISO levels are actually quite good. Not as amazing as Samsung claim in their advertising, but then she is a cameras ISO ever as good as any company claim! I will mention more in the next post on this. Needless to say though, it coped just as well as most other cameras in low light.


"This content is created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd."

Flying birds straight towards the camera is one of the hardest things to photograph in wildlife, and get real sharp images that are in focus. Not to be arrogant, but I can do it... and have done so many times, so know what to do (only through lots of practice in setting up our owl days).

The NX1 struggled... I had it set to 15fps, its maximum, but it was hindered by two things. Firstly, the image just taken popping up on the screen... as mentioned above, I had to guess where the owl would be as it flew towards me. Fairly predictable though as I sat where I knew it would come in a straight line.

So secondly... focus speed! It was just not fast enough to keep the owl in focus between each frame of 15fps. With my camera, I can rattle off a burst and know 4 or 5 will be sharp and in focus. But with the NX1, I would maybe get one in focus and then the rest would be out.

This is difficult though, and the light was not the best so difficult conditions too.


"This content is created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd."

We tried the barn owl out in the fields with more light. Similar story, but a bit more success probably due to more light. Camera focused quicker and more accurately, but still just one, maybe two in each burst that were in focus.

I will just say though, you can change the fps down to 12, 10 or even 8... so this may help give the camera more time to focus between shots.


"This content is created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd."

So back home, end of the day, and I was generally happy with what I took. More duds than usual, but I am still getting used to the camera. Had to put it on charge... and a pet hate... no separate charger was included with the kit! Had to plug the camera in to charge the batteries, meaning camera is out of action. You can buy a separate stand alone battery charger from Samsung, but for £2,500 you think they could of supplied one in with the kit!


"This content is created with the Samsung NX1, which has been provided by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd."

Early next week I will continue with some thoughts... mainly about the 3 points Samsung seem to be pushing. The 28mp, 15fps and high ISO! Then finish at the end of the week with my overall conclusions of my time with the Samsung NX1.

Thanks for looking :-)