Small cameras that go beyond point-and-shoot have become all the rage: they promise better pictures and more versatility than smartphones, thanks to their bigger sensors and interchangeable lenses – but they’re nowhere near as big and heavy as traditional SLRs.

I got a chance to take a closer look at Samsung’s NX300, the top model of the South Korean giant’s camera line-up, for a review over at Much of what I saw was very impressive – especially the picture quality under difficult lighting conditions. And the camera is easy and fun to use in many ways, thanks to its intuitive menus and touch-screen controls.

Still, as with the Olympus OM-D EM-5 before, I always felt that I had to make compromises between convenience and quality. The NX300 does not have a viewfinder, for example, and the autofocus was not nearly as fast and reliable as the one on my Nikon D7000.

The comparison may be unfair – but it’s the camera manufacturers, Samsung included, who keep promising SLR-like performance for this new breed of camera (called variously compact-system cameras or interchangeable lens cameras). In my experience, they’re not quite there – yet. But no doubt, these cameras will get better and better, at some point (soon?) living up to the promise. I look forward to the NX400 and beyond. Meanwhile, my Ubergizmo review tells you why the NX300, all in all, offers very good value for money.

Below, some sample images, straight from the camera. More here, along with some videos.

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