Samsung NX300 review – Autofocus

The NX300’s hybrid AF system is made up of 105 phase-detection points that cover a wide AF area, which is more of a 16:9 ratio, while the 247 contrast-detection points cover the entire frame.

In strong continuous light and for subjects of good contrast, AF is near instant, latching onto the subject in a single motion (hunt). However, while using the camera in low light at dawn to photograph deer, I found autofocus a bit hit and miss. When using the shutter button to activate AF and the shutter, the camera sometimes did not focus at all on the subject and captured a blurry result. The success ratio was better when using touch AF on the rear screen instead.

Touch AF is a very welcome new feature. Given that the 247 contrast-detection points cover the entire frame, one can press anywhere on the screen for a spot focus. This is not only a more accurate method of focusing, but also a quicker one.

There is a difference in the AF speed of the NX300 compared to the NX210. With the two cameras set up side-by-side, AF speed was similar in good light, with the NX300 just edging it. In low-contrast light the cameras have a similar success ratio, but the NX300 is quicker again. The margins are minute, though. For another comparison, the Nikon D7100 DSLR, which uses phase-detection AF, is significantly quicker and more accurate when used in low light.

A handy tool for manual focusing is focus peaking. This feature is now present in a few cameras and works by displaying high-contrast edges around the point of focus. In the NX300, peaking is viewed on the rear screen in either white, red or green, with options for three levels of strength for varying degrees of focus. There is also MF assist, which enlarges the frame up to 8x for a closer look at the focus point.

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