All photos are unedited (i.e. colours are straight from camera).
Rich Tones under Smart Mode - colours look good and natural considering that the python was lying under a heating lamp. F/2.2 so shallow depth of field, shutter 1/125, ISO 100.
Creative Shot - umm....here you can see how the heating lamp affected the photo and how over enthusiastic the feature was. The heating lamp was not that bright red or that hot. The Manual Mode and Rich Tones Mode are closer to what I saw. Settings were the same as above except for the shutter speed which was 1/160.
In Manual Mode you control everything and here I used f5.6, 1/125, ISO 400. I increased the ISO because this was in a shaded area, as evident by the shadow to the left. I also wanted a larger depth of field which is why my ISO had to be increased. I could have gotten away with 1/60 and decreased my ISO for less noise, but the photo was taken hand held so I didn't want to take a chance.
From the photos above you can see that different situations and lighting can give a different result each time. Manual will most likely be more consistent but Rich Tones lightens the shadows more while increasing the yellow and reducing definition.
Creative Shot was too hot for the photo and didn't represent the correct lighting conditions. Then again, it isn't called Creative Shot for nothing. I'd avoid this anywhere near red lighting as it might give a negative result. Some photographers may like this type of shot, so it's personal opinion. The shot may have changed if I had moved a little to my left or right. Creative Shot is not an exact science, more guesswork but more fun related.
I didn't use the other features here e.g. Action Freeze (no action) and Landscape (which is more for photos with green and blue). The other features are obvious so they wouldn't have worked here (macro could have but with a shallow depth of field would have been similar to Rich Tones), however that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. Features not meant for certain situations can produce some unusual photos by breaking the rules. And rules are meant to be broken (something I should experiment with using the NX300).
Consistent and reliable, f/5.6, shutter 1/80, ISO 200.
As this was a moving body of water I tried Action Freeze. If you look closer where the water is flowing over you can see a little more definition than in Manual Mode. F/2, 1/250, ISO 100. It's a little too light for my liking but that can easily be adjusted in Lightroom 4 with the shadows and highlights sliders.
As there was green and some feint blue, Landscape mode was an obvious choice. Higher saturation than Action Freeze, but lower definition than in Manual Mode. Again, this can easily be fixed in LR4. f2.5, 1/160, ISO 100. But f2.5 means shallow DOF? It would appear the further you are away or the bigger the landscape, the larger your DOF with this feature. I was fairly close to the scene above (so shallow DOF) and my focus area was centered over the water. You can see feintly how the ducks on the left are starting to blur as well as the corners.
Rich Tones blew out the highlights and lost shadows, making it appear washed out. LR4 will fix this but another instance of not really knowing how a feature will work in different situations. f2.5, 1/160 ISO 100. IMO, Rich Tones is meant to boost colours, so it might be best used on a situation where the colours of a scene are not so bright in order for the feature to work better. Take a look at the Python photo above, and you can see that the muted tones of the scene worked better as the feature didn't over saturate the colours.
Creative Shot did a nice job of creating more drama with this photo in comparison to the Python. A vignette was applied by the Samsung NX300's feature and looks pretty nice. I would boost the tones in LR4 as the colours look a little bland.
From the second lot of photos, you can see how Rich Tones changed from one situation to the next. The feature didn't work so well with the Pond and Ducks, over exposing the photo whereas in the Python photo is exposed well and worked perfectly.
Same goes for Creative Shot. The Python photo just didn't work and was too hot, too saturated but in the Pond and Ducks photo, it created a little drama and looked good.
I didn't use the Waterfall feature here (which would have looked fantastic) because I didn't have my tripod or something stable. I tried leaning on the bridge for stability but the bouncing up and down of people walking behind made it impossible to get a clear, clean shot.
This shots and those that follow have green and blue predominantly so lets see how some of the settings work with this. Rich Tones didn't do too badly, lighting the building and lamp while darkening the sky just a little. My issue with Rich Tones is that it sometimes removes quite a bit of definition with the intention of creating a lighter photo. f/4, 1/400, ISO 100.
Not much difference in the blue and green compared to Manual Mode, but that purple hue in the clouds was decreased. f3.5, 1/400, ISO 100.
Manual Mode and Landscape Mode gave similar results even though the settings were different. Manual Mode also gave that purple hue in the clouds whereas Landscape Mode was decreased. Manual Mode was a little more clearer/sharper. f5.6, 1/500, ISO 200.
Creative Shot was a little lighter in the shadow areas and similar to Landscape Mode, so I would guess that it chose Landscape for this shot. f3.5, 1/400, ISO 100. But, the purple hue is increased so I could be wrong. I would think the camera would use Landscape but as I wasn't paying attention to what it selected at the time I won't know. EXIF data will only show Creative Mode afterwards.
From the settings from the building shot, you can see that the Smart Mode features use similar settings in comparison to Manual Mode. Personal settings can change the result quite a bit, so while these features are fun I still recommend giving Manual Mode a try.
The last set of photos.
Manual Mode, this time more blue sky in contrast with the building. Again, that purple hue is there (my format settings were set to JPG and not RAW, where as RAW might have given a different result). Colours are good but I would want to add a little more hue to the building. f5.6, 1/500, ISO 200.
Deeper blue, richer tones in the building, that annoying purple hue. f4, 1/500, ISO 100.
The blue sky is less saturated than Creative Shot, the foreground (building) is lightened. Definition is less and the shadow at the bottom from the building to the right is lighter. Very similar to Manual Mode but shadows in the trees are lighter. f4, 1/500, ISO 100.
For these shots above, even with Manual Mode the settings were fairly close. Like I said, it's not an exact science when using automatic features on the NX300, or any other camera. The advanced modes, especially Manual, give you somewhat more consistent results.
But these creative features are meant for creative use when you want slightly quicker results than using photo manipulation software.