Monday, April 6, 2015

Testing the NX500's Samsung Auto Shot (SAS)

Happy Easter!
Over the weekend, I tested one of the NX500's features called Samsung Auto Shot (SAS), which was originally featured in the NX1.  SAS enables the camera to automatically take a shot at the peak moment of certain types of scenes such as baseball or basketball.

It's a feature that no one has asked for.  On the other hand, the target market of the NX500 includes parents and other family members who could use such a feature.  I think that SAS is also intended to showcase the speed of the DRIMEe V (and Vs, in the case of the NX500) processor.

SAS currently has three variants: Baseball, Jump Shot and Trap Shot.  They all work best on a tripod.  All of them are JPEG only, and all only take a single shot.
This mode is designed to take a shot of the batter at the moment that he hits the ball.  It is for landscape orientation only.  As much as possible, you should try to be perpendicular to the ball's path (if you are more than 20 degrees diagonal, it won't work).  It also works better when there is no fence.
When this mode is selected, there is an icon of a batter with a vertical line representing the target area for the ball. 
graphic by Samsung
You can either drag the batter and the line on the touchscreen, or use the rear dial to move the batter and the line.  Once it is positioned, you can tap the screen to adjust the focus.  After focusing, you press the shutter all the way to wait for the ball.
I tried this out at a local baseball game using the NX500 and 16-50 f/3.5-5.6 pancake kit lens.  I was behind a fence, which is not ideal and can interfere with SAS.  Moreover I was not using a tripod.  Nonetheless, the NX500 captured the ball at the moment it crossed the vertical line on the screen (near the axis of the head):

On the next shot, the batter hit the ball, but the camera did not capture the moment the ball was hit.  I suspect that he hit the ball before the ball reached the vertical line:

I therefore adjusted the vertical line so that it was a little bit in front of where Samsung indicated the batter should be.  The camera captured the moment the batter took a swing, just as the ball crossed the line (on the axis of the foot, because I framed the line ahead of the previous position):

The next shot was pretty much perfect (the line was roughly along the foot):

On the next shot, the camera again captured the ball just as it crossed the line where the foot was.

I would conclude from this brief testing of the Baseball mode that it works. 
This mode is designed to take a photo of someone jumping, at the peak of his jump.  It works in either landscape or portrait orientation.  The setup for this is simple: you just switch to this mode, tap on the screen to prefocus where the jump will be, then press the shutter all the way.  The camera waits until it detects a jump then takes a shot at the peak.  As you can see from the shot on top, it works:

To test whether the camera was be capturing the peak of the jump, I jumped beside a wall and made a mental note of how far up my hand reached.  Then I checked whether the shot showed that my hand reached that spot.  Indeed it was the peak.

It appears from my testing that this mode works as well.  My only comments are: first, sometimes the camera takes a shot even no one is jumping, which can cause you to miss THE shot.

Another comment is that in some cases, a player doesn't take the peak action exactly when the person reaches the top of the jump, as when a basketball player hangs in the air for a moment before taking the shot.  Therefore in those cases, the camera would capture the peak of the jump but it wouldn't be the peak moment of the action.  One solution is to take a continuous burst.  Unfortunately, like other SAS modes, the camera takes only a single shot rather than a burst. 
This is the newest SAS mode.  It was added by firmware to the NX1, although built-in to the NX500.  In this mode, the camera takes the shot when a target touches a line.  It has several potential applications, such as taking a photo of a runner crossing the finish line. 
The setup for this is similar to Baseball mode.  It works in landscape orientation only.  There is a vertical line on the screen, which you position by dragging the touchscreen or rotating the rear dial.  On the other side of the line is an arrow indicating the expected direction it is traveling.  The camera takes a shot when the target touches the line.  (Note: if an object crosses the line while moving from the other side, the camera does not take a shot.)

To test this, I put a sandbag on the ground and positioned the vertical line over the sandbag.  I tested my daughter and it worked:

For a faster target, I tried my son and it also worked:

Finally I tested myself and it still worked:
Tried going the other way as well where I could run faster without crashing into the wall:

I also tried to use Trap Shot to capture a soccer ball going into the goal (I positioned the vertical line at the goal line):

I also experimented with using Trap Shot to capture kicking the ball:
For this kind of shot, it worked when I positioned the vertical line just a little ahead of the ball.
I conclude from my testing that Trap Shot generally works.  Note, however, that it won't capture small objects (I tried using it to capture a toy crossbow with foam bolt and the camera didn't detect it).
It appears that the three SAS modes work fairly well (with occasional hiccups in the case of Jump Shot).  In Baseball mode, the camera was able to capture the ball even when I could not see it.  SAS is probably not a replacement for good timing, as when a photographer who knows the sport can time the shot perfectly.  For casual observers (like myself) however, SAS definitely makes it easier to capture a shot.

SEE ALSO: our Samsung NX500 Review