Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Samsung NX300 - Manual Mode

Manual Mode for beginners might seem a little daunting, but once you have a basic understanding of ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed, Manual Mode might end up being your favourite of shooting modes.

I used to love using AV (aperture value) but I didn't always get the correct exposure.  After playing around with the Manual Mode it was easier to keep control of the exposure and adjust the shutter speed and aperture the way I wanted and what worked best for me.

I still use AF to focus as my eyes are not reliable for manual focus but the Focus Ring (also used when the iFN button is pressed to select settings) makes life so much easier in MF.  It allows you to zoom in for a closer look and for fine tuning the focus before taking the photo.  Much like using the + and - zoom buttons on DLSR's.  I can tell you that having this available on the lens and not having to reach to the back of the camera is a huge time saver.

To use the Focus Ring for zooming in while focusing manually you need to have MF Assist activated by going to Menu, selecting MF Assist under the Camera Icon then selecting either Enlarge x5 or Enlarge x8.

You may also want to activate Focus Peaking (depending on what suits you best as some might find this distracting) where the camera detects the sensitivity of the focus area which displays as either white, red, green.  The points that are in focus are highlighted in the colour you selected. You can increase the sensitivity but low is considered best for day to day photography where high is probably better for low light photos.

Keep an eye on the Aperture and Shutter Speed while manually focusing.

I haven't been able to find out if you can move around the screen when using MF Assist and while this is a great feature it will only zoom in on the center of the screen. To see the entire screen while manually focusing you need to deactivate MF Assist. You can't use MF Assist if your lens is set to Auto Focus, it can only be used in Manual Focus.

The following website and videos will give you a better idea of how Focus Peaking works (even though the Samsung NX300 isn't featured the idea is general).

I may add a video later on demonstrating how this works.

Right: number of shots available, battery, Dynamic Range, photo size (20M), Drive, Flash, Metering, AF mode, Focus Area, OIS, RAW format, Fn menu
Left: Manual Mode, Autoshare, AF options, Menu, Histogram (the graph)

In Manual Mode the Shutter Speed is highlighted in blue, meaning this is currently selected and when you move the dial mode (wheel on top of the camera) you will be changing the shutter speed only. While doing this keep an eye on the Exposure Compensation/Value (those sets of lines seen at the bottom of the screen).  The red line will move as you change either the shutter or aperture.

If the line moves to the right of the 0, the photo becomes overexposed.  If it moves to the left of the 0 the photo becomes underexposed.  If in the middle under 0, the photo is considered correctly exposed. This red line does not move in the other advanced modes unless you press the EV (Exposure Value, shown as a block with + and -) and manually change it.

Changing the EV in modes P, A, and S is telling the camera to make the photo a bit lighter or darker after the camera has chosen what it believes is the correct exposure for the combination of settings. Since the camera controls one of the features in P, A and S modes, you can use the EV button here but in Manual Mode you are controlling both aperture and shutter so the EV button doesn't work in the same way and exposure is adjusted according to what you decide on the settings.

Sometimes the camera isn't correct with its choice of exposure according to your settings in P, A and S so the EV button allows you to adjust for correct exposure.

For more info on EV:

To change the aperture you need to press the EV button (the aperture will change to blue) and hold down while turning the mode dial and select the aperture that you want.  Again keep an eye on the red line as it moves.

If you still struggle with getting correct exposure try adjusting your ISO, starting from 200 (if it was originally on 100) and slowly increasing until you get the desired settings.  Keep in mind that the more you increase the ISO the more noise will appear but as I said before, the Samsung NX300 is excellent with handling noise.

Framing Mode is mentioned with Manual Mode in the user's manual but can be used with the other advanced modes.  At first I found it confusing because when the feature is turned ON it seems to be the opposite of my Canon 650D's Exposure Compensation.  But considering that the Samsung NX300 does not have an EVF, the Framing Mode seems to compensate for this.  Read more about this here: - scroll down to Framing Mode.

The following photos show the original shot and the edited shot to the right.

ISO: 100, Aperture: f/10, Shutter: 1/13 - edited with PSE 10 and Topaz Clarity

ISO: 1600, Aperture: f/9, Shutter: 1/400.  I was indoors with low light so increased my ISO.  
I could have decreased my aperture to increase the shutter speed but the DOF would have been limited.  Here I released the ball and quickly snapped away and a fast shutter speed was needed.

ISO: 100, Aperture: f/3.5, Shutter: 1/30.  No Flash, no photoshop correction.  This is straight out of the camera.  Posted this for fun :-D.

There is quite a bit of noise in the second photo above but not enough to entirely degrade the photo.  I could still use Topaz Labs Denoise and it would look pretty good.  Shows how well the Samsung NX300 handles noise when the ISO is that high.

I did find that after extended use, about 2 hours or so straight, the camera did become hot on the battery's side but this seems normal for many SLR's.  As my Canon 650D is much bigger I don't notice when the battery becomes hot.  The memory card is right next to the battery on the Samsung NX300 so this can pose a slight problem as the heat may damage the card or cause it to not work correctly.  If you feel the camera is getting too hot, switch it off for a few minutes and let it cool down.

In the last photo of the Merry Go Round, the bottom photo shows the Chromatic Aberration (fringing) that appears when using the 18-55mm kit lens for the Samsung NX300.  In comparison to my Canon 18-55mm kit lens, the Samsung kit lens handles the fringing far better as it is less pronounced.  You can reduce and mostly remove the fringing with one mouse click in Lightroom 4 under Lens Correction.

I played around with the colour presets in LR4 but the Samsung NX300 captured the colours of the Merry Go Round fairly nicely considering this was in the shade where colours tend to be muted.

Since playing with the Samsung NX300 I've started to enjoy the benefits of Manual Mode over Aperture Priority.  The Samsung NX300 more than shows its ease of use, no matter what shooting mode you use.

Next: Lens Priority Mode

Edit update: regarding using manual focus while autofocus is on - this can only be done if you have a lens with the Full-Time Manual Focus (FTMF) feature like the 85mm 1.4 or 60mm 2.8 (which allows you to fine tune the autofocus manually with the focus ring without having to change to manual focus).  Without this option you can/will cause damage to your lens while manually focusing with the AF on as this will fight with the camera's ability to focus.

Here's a guide for definitions of the NX lens range: Lenses explained


  1. Hi,
    do you now how to get the NX300 into infinity focus
    (great info by the way)

    1. Hi, from what I can tell none of the Samsung lenses have the infinity symbol but tech specs say that the lenses can focus to infinity. I've asked Samsung whether or not the NX300 has an infinity mode, just out of curiosity.

      I'm taking a guess that you have the kit lens 18-55mm so, set a small aperture (around f22) and Auto Focus on a distant object (if the focus isn't where I want it I touch the screen over the area I want in focus) and move the AF to MF on the lens (but keep the camera in position).

      Then use the focusing ring at front of the lens fine tune the focus. If you are using a prime lens like the 30mm or 20mm there isn't a AF/MF button and you will need to change to manual focus in the menu. For night time, the moon is a suggested distant object (lol). You can also go straight to manual focus instead of using AF first but AF just makes focusing quicker. Landscape mode under Smart Modo is set to infinity so you could also use that, Auto Focus, switch to manual and fine tune. Infinity changes according to temperature so don't mark Infinity on the lens as this can change. Hope that helps.

  2. the heat thing is really an isue for a profesional day shoting. My nx300m start to heating and it slow down and was unable to teke photos or even shut down the camera... its the only thing i dont like of this camera.

  3. I agree. In DSLR's you don't feel the heat as much. It's one of the reasons why I rely more on my Canon than the NX300 for long shooting. I also had issues trying to turn the camera off and had to resort to removing the battery.

  4. Is it bad to Manual Focus when the camera is in Autofocus mode?

  5. Hi sorry, made a slight editing mistake: You can use manual focus in autofocus mode if you have a lens with the Full-Time Manual Focus (FTMF) feature like the 85mm 1.4 or 60mm 2.8 (which allows you to fine tune the autofocus manually with the focus ring without having to change to manual focus). Without this option you can/will cause damage to your lens while manually focusing with the AF on as this will fight with the camera's ability to focus.

  6. Hi. I have a problem woth my samsung nx300 when i turn off my camera the lense keeps on moving and on the screen the samsung keeps on appearing/blinking. What can i do to make it stop?

    1. Hi, from what I understand this is a firmware problem. Have you updated your firmware on your camera? Here's more info: - and a forum that describes exactly the problem you are experiencing Hope this helps.

  7. Hi. I need help. I have a problem with my samsung nx300. The camera lense keeps on moving even if the camera is off. What can i do about it?

    1. Hi sorry about the late reply but didn't get a notification about this. It could be that the lens is jammed but that usually happens when the camera is turned on. It sounds odd but I did have an issue with my camera where I couldn't turn the camera off and had to remove the battery. Just out of curiosity, does the lens move on its own without you touching it?

  8. Hi
    Every time I try to focus on manual mode and focus to infinity on the small ring it focus for a bit then goes back to normal when I press the shot button. I actually want to take a picture of close proximity when it's focused to the end. I would appreciate some help on that.


  9. Hi, what lens are you using? Also, have you changed the AF mode to Manual? If you are manual focusing and haven't changed the AF mode to manual, when you press the shutter button it will go back to Auto Focusing. You can change either by going to the Menu Button and under the Camera Menu changing to Manual Focus under AF Mode or press the Fn button and scrolling down to the bottom left side that says AF Mode and change it there. You can also change it by pressing the AF button next to the Ok button on the camera.

    Use a small aperture of f10-f22 if you want a greater depth of field (front to back in focus).

  10. Hey, maybe you can help me with something...I have an 18-55mm lens on my nx300 and regardless of the shooting mode I try, I cannot select ISO 100. But I see that you have used this setting with the same lens. So could you help with possible solutions please? Is it possible I have something set on my camera that conflicts and eliminates this option?


    1. Hi, if your Dynamic Range (under Camera Menu) is set to Smart Range + you won't be able to select ISO 100. It will only allow from ISO 200 as it appears to require more sensor sensitivity to capture more detail. I don't see any other settings that my be conflicting but let me know if that works.

    2. Oh know, I changed this when I was trying to sort the problem myself, but I didn't go back and check if that solved the problem. But now I see it has...

      Thanks heaps

  11. Hi, thanks for the post. I have a problem with my Samsung NX300. When I select manual mode, it just shows a dark screen. I can select aperture, shutter speed, etc but they don't matter. I tried taking a picture anyway, and as expected, the picture was only black. In other modes, I can take normal pictures. Is this a firmware issue?

    1. Hi, quick question but have you used manual before i.e. do you have knowledge of manual mode? The reason I'm asking is because you may not have balanced out your shutter speed with your aperture. The little red line on the Exposure Compensation/Value bar (meter), where is it sitting? If I'm correct in guessing, and I really hope so, the red line is sitting at -3 on the meter (to the far left), which means you are not sitting at the correct exposure so the screen will be dark. If this is the case, turn the wheel on the top to your left until the red line moves to the middle of the meter/Exposure compensation bar. If that was the problem you should see your screen lighten and depending on the amount of light this might take a few or quite a few turns of the wheel. Let me know if this worked or not. Thanks for reading!