|"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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!