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Why this 4 year old Samsung is the best budget hybrid video and stills camera you can buy in 2018

Four years later, the Samsung NX1 still offers the most bang for your buck

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You’re not going to believe me when I tell you the Samsung NX1 is still the best hybrid camera you can get, 4 years after its release in 2014. But hang with me, I’m going to make a case for it that won’t have you scoffing at a camera you may not have even heard of.

Think of where the camera world was in 2014. If you wanted to shoot video with a great stills camera, your options were really limited. If you wanted to shoot 4k video, your options were even more limited. The Panasonic GH4 was the first widely adopted 4k shooter that took good stills, but most bought it for video production. Canon and Nikon were not only limited to 1080p, they were so behind on both image quality and video capabilities, they were largely ignored (especially Nikon).

Before we get into why the NX1 is the best bang for your buck option, let’s talk about the competition:

Canon

Canon’s 5d Mark IV runs around $2600 used, and still frustrates users with the woeful motion jpeg codec. The 1 DX Mark II costs more than my car (but is actually a nice video shooter)

Nikon

Nikon’s stepped up their game with the D500 and D7500 both APS-C shooting 4k cameras with heavy crop. The D850 also manages 4k and is an absolute beast of a camera. But Nikon live view (video) autofocus is still absolutely unusable.

Sony

In terms of affordability, the A7RII’s used price (around $1750) is starting to make it a viable “bang for your buck” hybrid option. Sony glass can be crazy expensive, and adapted glass struggles with video AF. The A9 and A7R III are new and cost prohibitive for this exercise, but are very strong in stills and video.

Fujifilm

Fuji may be the biggest threat to Samsung’s budget hybrid crown. The X-T2 is capable for both stills and video, has better autofocus, and a wider selection of fast prime glass. Video limitations (you have to buy the $300 grip to unlock the 30-minute recording limit), expensive lens selection, and more expensive body allow the NX1 to just edge it out.

But with the forthcoming X-T3 and X-H1 announcements will drive the X-T2 price down, ultimately making it a better option – especially since it’s not a “dead” system.

Panasonic & Olympus

Both have great options in the GH5 and the EM-1 Mark II. But both are quite a bit more expensive, and in my opinion not as good in the stills department. The G9 from Panasonic looks great but is new so it's not going to win a bang for buck trophy

Taken with NX1 and Samsung 50-150mm

The Case For The NX1

Before you come at me bro with your “but it’s a dead system” or “it’s a 4 year old body” comments, think about what this camera had in 2014, and you’ll see why it’s relevant today: Cinema 4k (4096x2160) resolution capable video, full sensor readout in 4k with no crop, really wonderful 28mp aps-c sensor that ran at 6.5k raw at 240fps in Samsung’s lab, 150mb bitrate capabilities via simple hack, best in the business ergonomics and menu system, and some surprisingly spectacular lens offerings.

There’s a reason this camera is still sought after by those doing serious video work and holds its own as a professional stills camera. Even 4 years later, the NX1 can still hold it’s own with the best in either department.

Why is it the best?

In spite of an early run on these flooding the market when Samsung called it quits, the price has held up fairly well. But they’re still very affordable. KEH is selling one for $999 right now. You can’t touch this much hybrid goodness from Canon, Nikon, or Sony for $1000.

What’s the case against it?

There’s a couple of reasons why the NX1 will only hold this title for a little while longer. First, other 4k options in the APS-C and Full Frame space are starting to get enough age on them that the price is bottoming out.

There are two other reasons, though. Lenses and lack of IBIS. The latter is obvious, and even Fuji is breaking from their long held position that they wouldn’t do it. And while Samsung had some absolute stunner lenses (16-50S f/2.8 and the 50-150mm f/2.8), it lacks “S” series fast primes. The 45mm f/2.0 is a good, not amazing lens. The 85mm f/1.4 is a spectacular lens but suffers from pretty slow autofocus. And finally, there’s no long zooms or primes, which may be why more professionals didn’t flock to the system.

What we love:

  • The price (about $1000 USD in 2018)
  • Gorgeous 28mp sensor
  • Serious 4k cinema video capabilities
  • Still best in class ergonomics and menu system
  • Two world class zooms (16-50S and 50-150mm S)
  • Good but not amazing primes
  • Just downright fun to use

What we don't love:

  • Lack of long primes and zooms
  • No professional fast primes
  • Lack of IBIS
  • “Dead” system that won’t be improved on
  • Just OK low light performance

If only we could have seen the 300mm f/2.8 in production

If you love shooting stills and video and want a great all arounder, give the NX1 a look.


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