Fuji X-A1 vs Samsung NX300

Fuji X-A1 vs Samsung NX300

I get tons of requests for comparisons, so here is one for Fuji X-A1 and Samsung NX300.

People constantly complain about how bad Samsung sensors are on various forums, but the newer 20 MP sensor is nothing like the older 14.6 MP sensor in terms of DR/High ISO, and has slowly improved up to the NX300. As can be seen by these shots, the Samsung has the advantage at base ISO for great detail, but even at ISO 3200 it is equivalent to the well known Sony 16.3 MP.

Fuji had the better kit lens in , but round 2 comparing ISO performance goes to the Samsung, mainly since it offers a cleaner ISO 100.

Samsung NX300 with 45mm f/1.8 set at f/7.1, Fuji with 16-50mm set at 45mm f/7.1.

Samsung images were cropped to comparable physical size on the sensor as the Fuji (i.e. Samsung crop area is 991×660 pixels resized to 600 wide and the Fuji is 886×591 resized to 600 wide, this is to equalize them in terms of MP).

The Fuji has a slightly different perspective since the tripod mount is offset. Sorry about the additional flare. Try not to count that against the Fuji. This could be differences in lens properties, and the light is more visible in the Fuji shot adding to the flare/haze seen on the image).

The Fuji exaggerates the ISO (by design it under-exposes the RAW by about 1/3 to 1/2 stop vs what the Samsung does for exact same settings). All this means is that if you set both cameras to ISO 3200 and shoot in an A mode, the Fuji is going to select a longer shutter speed.

In manual mode this shows as underexposure since I set all the settings the same. For this shot I corrected the Fuji’s exposure by boosting EV by 0.5 to make a fair comparison. I used the histogram to get them as close as I could.

It isn’t necessarily bad that the Fuji does this, in part it is because the sensor is very good, but at the same time it can make Internet comparisons unfair if people set both cameras in A mode and it makes it look like the Fuji is half stop better when it is not (half a stop is actually a lot if you are on the edge).

Processed from RAW files with default settings in LR 5.2

So on to the test:
Overall Shot:
Samsung at ISO 100 (Fuji has no 100)
Fuji at ISO 200
Samsung at ISO 200
Samsung at ISO 100
Fuji at ISO 200
Samsung at ISO 200
Fuji at ISO 3200
Samsung at ISO 3200
Fuji at ISO 3200
Samsung at ISO 3200

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  1. tecnoworld says:

    Great test as always, Eric! Nx300 is much more detailed and I prefer the colors, even at high iso. Well done, Samsung.

  2. Could you add your own conclusions from this comparison data? My impression is that the Samsung NX300 takes slightly nicer photos than the Fuji XA-1, which is surprising. But perhaps am not looking as carefully as you have at “the whole picture”. Plus, it’s easier to see the high-ISO differences than the low-ISO results. What’s your take on the two sensors at ISO 3200? And your opinion of things at ISO 200?

    Also, is the Samsung capable of nicer photos at ISO 100 than the Fuji at the Fuji minimum of ISO 200?

    Another neat article, thanks.

  3. “As can be seen by these shots, the Samsung has the advantage at base ISO for great detail, but even at ISO 3200 it is equivalent to the well known Sony 16.3 MP.”

    When asking for more conclusions, should clarify that am asking for discussion of dynamic range at low ISO, and a bit more of your thoughts about a Nex C3 low-ISO comparison. For example would you say that the Samsung is capable at ISO 100 of taking smoother images than a Nex C3 at its lowest ISO 200 setting? Also your more specific thoughts about the ISO 3200 comparison.

    It seems overall that with the Samsung having some quite desirable lenses, that company has, with less media coverage, produced a camera system that could be described as “better” than the Sony APS-C system. If you just look at the two variables of (a) max possible image quality and (b) availability of super nice, professional-quality lenses such as the 85/1.4, 30/2 and 16/2.4 that you have pointed out to us in previous reviews.

    This is kind of exciting, with Samsung NX300 having focus peaking, they make a Pentax K-mount adapter, aren’t there plenty of third party manual lens adapters, etc. A sort of overlooked APS-C system.

  4. admin says:

    I think it is definitely an overlooked system. For manual focus I still prefer Fuji or Sony, for a couple reasons. Sony lets you zoom in anywhere in the image, and currently for some reason Samsung restricts adapted lenses to center focus point only for magnification (the Focus Peaking helps alleviate this somewhat).

    If manual focus is your primary concern, then I would recommend a NEX 5T (or 5R, 5N) since they offer ISO 100, an optional viewfinder, and a touch screen to change your point of interest quickly.

    What drew me to Samsung originally is they had a good price and the AF lenses were much better than the Sony lenses at the time (or much more affordable) so I found I wasn’t using MF lenses much. The 12-24, 16 (this one is best on the older 14.6 MP sensor), 30, 45, 60, 85 are a great set of lenses, and you can sometimes get great prices on them.

    I think I need a separate report on ISO 100 vs ISO 200 performance, I think people don’t concentrate on this as much because they are more worried about high ISO comparisons that are more obviously different, but you do have longer exposure time at ISO 100 so you collect more light, get a stronger signal, ISO 100 is better than ISO 200.

    My largest complaint when CMOS sensors got popular is that they weren’t as good at base ISO as CCD. I think the K-5 was one of the first cameras that returned that great low ISO CCD look on a CMOS sensor. It also goes down to ISO 80. Some cameras had lower ISO settings, but they were extended ISO ranges, meaning they were implemented in software (overexposing and pulling exposure) so these didn’t actually make image quality any better.


  5. tecnoworld says:

    RussellInCincinnati: for sure NX is very underrated. It’s one of the best mirrorless systems on the market, but unfortunately Samsung gets a lot of hate from uninformed ppl. So they simply don’t consider it (and the same is done by sites like Dpreview, that didn’t even take the time to review the nx300, which has been out for more than 6 months, now).

    The big problem is that Samsung does not listen its customers very much. It’s been months that we ask for bigger and faster buffer (the nx300 is limited to 5 raw files in a row, which is much less than any competitor), for a prosumer model with high res EVF (the one in nx20 is lower res than any new camera currently on the market), with IBIS (ala OMD or Pentax), but they simply seem not to listen, and the result is the – imo awful – Galaxy NX camera, which is ruining the image (already week) that previous NX models had built.

    Even the issues that could be easily corrected via fw are not faced by Samsung. The one Eric mentions here, i.e. the impossibility of moving the focus magnification point with legacy lenses. Or the unavailability of focus peaking in videos. Or the issue regarding nr applied in iso 1600 to 3200 even when nr is off. And many other things that I personally suggested to samsung a lot of times via customer support or via forum, with NO luck.

    Only with a high end model that is much better than competition, at a price lower than competitors, Samsung can do something. Otherwise, the NX will continue to be overlooked and underrated.

  6. ashwins says:

    Well written tecnoworld—I fully agree with you.

    I loved my NX10 in its time but I quickly outgrew the sensor. Then I got fed up with waiting Samsung to fix the buffer clearance issue with newer models and I bought Sony NEX. And I’m very happy with it—particularly with my many legacy lenses…

    And true, Samsung doesn’t listen to the customers. I remember how people were asking for more magnification steps to NX10 (me included) but Samsung never made it available through a firmware update. NX300’s focus peaking was a great news but I am still waiting for Samsung to fix the buffer issue… I’ll jump back if they do the right thing because I really love their lenses. We’ll see…

  7. jyhfeei says:

    I don’t understand how anybody would say this is a fair and conclusive test. The Samsung is fitted with one of their highest resolution primes. The Fuji is fitted with a $100 kit zoom lens. The Fuji is also hampered with contrast killing flare on many of the pics. Seems like the Fuji 35 prime would have been a more sensible comparison as most of the difference in the photos is resolution and contrast, not noise and dynamic range.

  8. admin says:

    The only thing I am comparing is noise, I make the comment to only compare noise, and the noise is about the same.

  9. jyhfeei says:

    It is true that the noise is about the same. However, because the quality of the files not being comparable due to the optics, one can see from the reader comments that your report gives a very different conclusion to the reader/viewer.

  10. Holy crap says:

    WOw! This is an incredibly flawed test and nearly no one mentions it! THE FUJI IS SHOOTING INTO THE LIGHT!!!! AND THE SAMSUNG IS NOT. Why did you put the fuji on the left of the samsung, where light strike the lens, and the samsung to the right, where it is well protected by the toy? To be fair, you should have put both camera in the same place, alternatively, and make them take the same shot. YOU LOST ALL CREDIBILITY. good bye.

  11. admin says:

    This test was just for noise. Both cameras were in exactly the same spot on the tripod I didn’t move between shots, and both were shooting directly into the light. What you are seeing here is the Samsung 30mm is more flare resistant.

    Please try reading the text. Zoom lenses often have a bit of shift when you put them on so it could change the framing slightly, and it isn’t my fault Fuji put the tripod mount off center on the camera. This absolutely annoys me when companies do this. It means it is virtually impossible for me to get the same framing with them, and it happened to make the light slightly worse for the Fuji.

    Since the flare has absolutely nothing to do with this test, just ignore it.

  12. […] no se si se puede hacer algo parecido con la fuji, que tambien tiene wifi… En este analisis Fuji X-A1 vs Samsung NX300 : ERPhotoReview Yo no veo diferencias entre las 2 camaras, incluso diria que me gusta mas el color en la nx300 […]

  13. wksoh says:

    A non ideal test for noise. Samsung is using prime lens and Fuji using the cheap kit lens. It is explained that the test is for noise. But inadvertantly gives reader a false impression that the Fuji color is washed out with flare, poorer resolution and poor color saturation compared to Samsung. I’m so distracted by the difference in resolution and color saturation that I cannot focus on the difference in noise at all. Unfair marketing..!!

  14. admin says:

    Sorry you don’t like the results, but wouldn’t change anything

  15. sam777 says:

    you don’t need iso 100 where upto 25000 fuji’s pictures are still usable. Plus, you need to show your overall image for fuji too. If you don’t have iso 100 on fuji you must start both from the same ISO.

  16. admin says:

    No, as 100 is an advantage too the other sensors. My point is I personally prefer sensors going to native 100 ISO. What I could do is overexpose the Fuji 1 stop and pull it to get ISO 100, which would result in less dynamic range. Fuji’s decision to not include ISO 100 costs them dynamic range. Fuji is just modified Sony 16MP, so yes, performance is good, but many people over-rate it due to misleading ISO settings and XTrans has a noise reducing effect. XA1 is just like NEX 3N or something with standard Bayer sensor, and just like 3N is limited to 200.