Camera

Samsung NX20: Quick Review

Samsung recently announced its largest NX camera lineup – the NX20, NX210 and NX1000. NX20 is a replacement to NX11, the NX210 to replace NX200, while the NX1000 is a new low-end model to target the price-sensitive consumers.

The NX20 and NX210 arrived on time for the PC Show last week. I also received the review unit early this week and had a quick hands-on. For those who are already familiar with the NX system, here’s a summary of the differences from the earlier models.

NX20 compared with NX11

The maximum dimensions are identical, but NX20 main body is slightly smaller, its grip is bigger, the weight lighter. Other physical differences include more buttons, swivel LCD, additional scroll on the navigation wheel.

Here are the list of technical improvements:

  • 20.3MP vs. 14.6MP
  • 8fps vs. 3fps
  • Up to 12800 ISO vs. 3200
  • HD Video recording
  • Electronic viewfinder at 800×600 vs. 640×480
  • More Smart Filters

NX20 compared to NX200

Although these 2 models are entirely different in physical design, the NX20 inherits the features of the NX200 plus several updates:

  • Maximum 1/8000s shutter, available when enabling E-Shutter
  • 8 fps vs. 7fps
  • Electronic leveler, invoked when toggling LCD display
  • Custom mode dial with 3 custom presets
  • Customisable button can now map White Balance function
  • New feature “Selective Color”, allows you to pick one of the 3 primary colours for duotone effect
  • “MAGIC” Frame is removed
  • Panorama mode on the dial is moved into “SCN” mode
  • Smart Filter is moved to Smart Panel, enabled only when shooting drive is “Single”

Wi-Fi Sharing

Of course, the star feature of the latest NX models is the Wi-Fi capability. Although already available on several Samsung compact camera models, this useful feature is finally incorporated into the NX interchangeable lens system.

The following are supported:

  • MobileLink to Samsung Galaxy-series devices
  • Remote Viewfinder using 
    Samsung Galaxy-series devices
  • Wi-Fi Direct with supported devices
  • Email direct from camera
  • Auto Backup to computer running the Auto Backup software
  • Cloud Upload from camera
  • Social Sharing to Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, etc.
  • TV Link to supported TV sets

The MobileLink is a really useful function that allows me to view my NX20 photos from my Samsung Galaxy S2 phone and select those that I want to download to my phone, without PC. Remote Viewfinder displays the NX20 liveview on the phone and I can trigger the shutter. I also tried Social Sharing of photos from NX20 to Facebook, which can only be done when the NX20 is logged in to a wireless network. Although entering text is possible, it is just too tedious. I’d wish Samsung come up with a Wi-Fi keyboard accessory.

The Wi-Fi sharing solution is certainly a saving grace for consumers who are out shooting and wants to send a few photos via the smartphone. Traditionally, one would have to insert the camera SD card to a SD-card reader and plugged to a USB-OTG enabled smartphone (a rather rare feature which Samsung Galaxy S-series support) to access the images.

Hands-On

Users who prefer a camera with good ergonomic design will like NX20, which is built for rugged consumer use. Improved button layout from the NX11 improves usability, especially with the inclusion of the wheel scroll.

I find the NX20 interface a little less agile than earlier models. Changing settings in between shots require a little breather from the user. Shooting continuous shots in RAW would freeze the camera for a few seconds. Simply put, do not expect DSLR-like capability, which is a pity since the NX20 review unit comes with the premium 85mm f1.4 portrait lens. With a little patience, however, the NX20 delivers pure professional image quality that rivals DSLR.

NX20 is the first NX camera with swivel LCD, and it’s extremely useful for odd angle shots, or even self-portraits. I could face the LCD to the subject while I use the EVF to pre-frame the shot. Then when I remove my eye off the EVF, the subject would be able to see his/her own image from the LCD.

Parting Thoughts

The Samsung NX20 is possibly the only mirrorless camera that offers me a professional feeling when holding it. It has all the qualities of a serious camera system – buttons that easily access all the imaginable camera controls like aperture, shutter, ISO, EV compensation, white balance, shutter drive, AF mode, metering mode, even an old-school AEL button. Novice can quickly control advanced settings using i-Function button on the lens. Its build is conventionally sturdy, with proper rubber grip, understated black body. It doesn’t pretend to be retro, but is designed with a traditional photographer in mind.

Admittedly, Samsung is not yet established as a camera system brand, despite creating a range of useful lenses that put Sony NEX and Nikon 1 to shame. 16mm, 20mm, 30mm, 60mm, 85mm are some of the prime lenses already available. 18-55mm, 50-200mm, 18-200mm zoom lenses will suffice any entry-level enthusiasts. Its APS-C sensor means image details are better than the Micro Four-thirds.

I suppose at this day of age, there aren’t many old-school photographers. Even smartphone users rely on filter apps like Instagram to make stunning images, and they certainly do not care what aperture or shutter is. I think Samsung knows how they should grow the NX system, now with the launch of NX1000 targeted at price-conscious consumers.

NX20 is a great camera, though the interface performance cannot match my demands as a DSLR user. I am more than glad to use it for projects that require less demanding capture responses. Over 80% of photos posted on my blog for the past 2 years is shot with a Samsung NX camera, and I am extremely pleased with the images and the handling ease, especially with the availability of premium lenses like 16mm f2.4 Ultra Wide-Angle, 60mm f2.8 Macro, 85mm f1.4 Portrait.

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