The NX20 is a recent addition to Samsung's NX range and features Wi-Fi functionality as well as other changes to set it apart from previous models. We gave it a thorough review to find out how it performs

Product Overview

Overall rating:

89%

Samsung NX20

Overall score:89%
Value:85%
Performance:85%
Image Quality:90%
Features:95%
Design:90%

Pros:

  • Flip out screen, clear EVF, good levels of detail, I-function lens technology

Cons:

  • Buffer performance, AF point positioning, high price

Product:

Samsung NX20 Review

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£900.00

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In the extremely competitive CSC market manufacturers are constantly fighting it out in an attempt to stay one step ahead of their rivals and maintain market share. One way of doing so is to introduce new and exciting features that haven’t been seen before to tempt potential users towards their system. Keeping fingers on the pulse, Samsung has launched Wi-Fi connectivity within the NX20 as well as many other interesting enhancements. Allowing you to connect your digital camera to a wireless network and share images via social media sites or email it’s one of the first cameras to feature this concept. But how popular will it be and can it really change the way we share our images in the future?

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Samsung NX20 – Features

Before we find out how the wireless connectivity works, lets familiarize ourselves with the NX20’s key features and see what’s changed. Like Samsung’s NX200 that was launched last year, the NX20 utilises the same 20.3Mp APS-C sized CMOS image sensor, which has also been put to use within the Samsung NX1000 and NX210. Measuring 23.5×15.7mm, one of the improvements this sensor brings to the NX20 is a broader ISO range of 100-12800 and it works out as a 2EV improvement when you compare it to the NX11’s more conservative 100-3200 offering.

The maximum permitted shutter speed and continuous burst rate have both been increased. Previously on the NX11 the fastest you could shoot at was 1/4000sec, but this has now been uprated to 1/8000sec to allow you to shoot at the same shutter speeds that are found on most D-SLR’s. The NX20 is a much faster camera all round. It’s 8fps continuous burst rate and reduced shutter lag (40ms) bring it up to speed with mirrorless rivals on the market and the 5fps burst advantage it has over the NX11 makes its forerunner seem somewhat pedestrian in comparison.

Another leap forward is the addition of a 3in, 614k-dot articulated screen at the rear. Being the Vari-angle type it can be pulled out from the body into almost any position for those times when you’re composing from high or low angles. Classed as an AMOLED display this means there’s no air gap between the display and protective glass. This by Samsung’s accounts improves the screens reflective resistance, produces deeper blacks and displays more accurate, vivid colours.

The SVGA electronic viewfinder that’s found above the screen has a 100% field of view and an impressive 1.44 million-dot resolution. Electronic viewfinder eye sensors are a feature that we’ve seen come and go on compact system cameras but the NX20 benefits from one so there’s no need to go searching for a pesky EVF/LCD button. When viewing the screen and you want to switch to the viewfinder or visa versa you simply raise or lower it from your eye.

Supporting i-Function 2.0 – a system whereby you can adjust common shooting settings such as shutter speed and aperture from a touch of a button on the lens, the NX20 comes with 16 scene-shooting modes to choose from including panorama, beauty shot and 3D photo should you wish to plug it into a 3D enabled Samsung TV.For those keen on producing the occasional movie, full HD video (1920×1080) is also supported with an option to take control of program, aperture priority, shutter priority and manual modes from the movie AE mode option in the menu.

Previous NX customers will be glad to know the NX20 uses the same BP1310 battery that’s found in the NX11. This gives anyone who’s looking to upgrade the opportunity to reuse batteries and chargers from their existing model rather than having to go out and invest in spares.

 

 

Design

A quick glance at the NX20 from the front and it’s difficult to spot where the design changes have taken place. What’s most noticeable is the likeness the NX20 has to the conventional shape of a D-SLR, albeit a lot smaller and more compact. Weighing 341g, it’s roughly 30% lighter than the NX11 and features a newly sculpted handgrip to improve handling and comfort. In an average sized hand the feel is superb and you’re able to wrap four fingers round the grip with ease. Your thumb is left to rest on a comfortable thumb rest and over prolonged periods of use we found little, if anything, to fault in terms of its handling.

The NX20’s buttons aren’t overly large. Those with large fingers may find it trickier to operate but having said that all the buttons are well arranged. Like a D-SLR the mode dial can be operated single handedly and for those spur of the moment video recordings the movie-rec button is in easy reach of the thumb. Metering gets its own dedicated button on the top plate to save you hunting around in the menu and the Fn button is particularly useful if you’d like to quickly change image quality, drive mode or a list of other variables.

How much use the i-Function function sees is dependent on the user and the way he or she likes to operate the camera. We’re very much in favour of i-Fn and have been since the day it first arrive. For whatever reason you don’t like the idea of using the manual focus ring to make your setting adjustments, you can alternatively use the scroll dial on the top plate.

As for the NX20’s menu system it is split into five categories – camera, movie, custom, settings and GPS. The white text on black background with a blue colour indicating your selection is very clear and effective. Furthermore, the screen flips out to the side very smoothly and offers a reassuring click as it’s folded in on itself when not being used.

How much use the i-Function function sees is dependent on the user and the way he or she likes to operate the camera. We’re very much in favour of i-Fn and have been since the day it first arrive. For whatever reason you don’t like the idea of using the manual focus ring to make your setting adjustments, you can alternatively use the scroll dial on the top plate.

As for the NX20’s menu system it is split into five categories – camera, movie, custom, settings and GPS. The white text on black background with a blue colour indicating your selection is very clear and effective. Furthermore, the screen flips out to the side very smoothly and offers a reassuring click as it’s folded in on itself when not being used.

Performance

A significant improvement is the electronic viewfinder. Crisper and sharper than before with its improved 1.44 million-dot resolution, the eye sensor is very quick at switching between the EVF feed and screen when pulling the camera away from your eye but is slightly less responsive when you’re lifting the camera back up and it’s something we’d like to see become more instantaneous.

The NX20’s contrast-detect AF system performs reasonably well, locking onto subjects without any major concerns in bright lighting conditions. The bright green AF-assist lamp is useful for illuminating close subjects in extremely dark conditions, though we did find ourselves half depressing the shutter twice before hearing the reassuring AF beep in some darker situations. Our main gripe with AF operation is the inability to position the AF point to the far corners of the frame – something that we know can be done and is a feat that Panasonic first accomplished on the GX1.

So what about the NX20’s trump card – its Wi-fI connectivity? Sharing images to social sharing sites such as Facebook, Picasa, YouTube and Photobucket couldn’t be easier. Simply turn the NX20’s mode dial to Wi-Fi and you’ll first be asked to join a local network. Using the jog dial isn’t the fastest way of entering Wi-Fi details, but it’s fairly quick to get used to. Logging into Facebook requires you to enter your ID and password and after that you’re given the choice of the JPEG files you want to upload. Up to 20 files can be selected providing the total size does not exceed 10MB and the longest video you can upload is 30 seconds at QVGA resolution.

Upload speeds will vary dependent on your Internet connection but during our tests we uploaded single images to Facebook in less than 2 seconds.

To send files to a smart phone you’ll require Samsung’s Mobile Link application. This is supported by Galaxy series smart phones with Android 2.2 OS or higher however it should be noted RAW files cannot be transmitted. With the NX20’s mode dial set to Wi-Fi and provided the Mobile Link application is turned you’re given the option to select multiple files you wish to send from the camera to the smart phone.

Alternatively there’s also the option of using your smart phone as a remote shutter release for the NX20. To use this facility you will need to first install the remote viewfinder application from Samsung Apps or the Android market.

Image Quality

Packing a large APS-C sized sensor, image quality is a key area where we expect the NX20 to excel. Given the choice of three metering modes – Multi, center-weighted and spot, it produced well-balanced exposures, even in tricky conditions where bright highlights and dark shadows could easily fool a metering system. On the rare occasion that highlights were clipped in our images, highlight detail was quickly retained in Camera RAW by setting the recovery slider between +20 and +30. Tonally the shots were punchy too. Colour in our test images faithfully resembled the scenes we photographed, leaving us with little work to do in post processing.

Samsung NX20 review sample image gallery

With more and more CSC’s pushing the creative effects they offer, the NX20 seems to be lagging behind slightly in this area. Picture Wizard has nine presets to try out including landscape, forest, retro and classic but don’t expect to be able to apply more creative effects such as selective colour or miniature effects in-camera.

To convert our files we used Adobe’s DNG Converter 6.7 but for those using Photoshop CS6, Camera RAW 7.1 also supports the NX20’s RAW files. Image sharpness and detail is well controlled by the CMOS sensor, though noise is present at higher ISO’s. Noise is handled well up to ISO 800, but push beyond this point and it’s noticeable when images are viewed at close proximity. We identified no shift in colour up to ISO 3200, however at ISO 6400 and 12800 our test images did appear to have a very slight magenta cast. For optimum results, you’ll want to keep the sensitivity below ISO 800 and rely on the higher settings only when you really need to.

Value

Costing £899 with the 18-55mm kit lens, the NX20 is undoubtedly one of the more expensive compact system cameras currently on the market. You can expect the price to fall over coming months but when you consider the NX11 could be picked up for £500 at its time of launch it does make you question whether the latest features justify the extra outlay.

One of the NX20’s closest rivals is the Olympus’s OM-D E-M5. The latter works out at £250 more than the NX20 when it’s bundled with the 12-50mm lens. There’s not a huge amount to separate the two other than the NX20 looking slightly more D-SLR like in terms of design. Both feature flip out screens, both feature electronic viewfinders and both offer full manual control of camera settings as you’d expect with a CSC. You could say the OM-D is the more complete system with a total of 10 lenses supporting it, however Samsung has made a point of expanding the NX lens lineup and to date there are 8 NX-series lenses covering focal lengths from 16mm through to 200mm.

Verdict

The NX20 has come a long way from the NX10 and NX11. When the NX11 was announced there wasn’t a huge amount to get excited about when comparing it to the NX10. The NX20 offers more innovative features to make it an attractive proposition. Slightly dubious as to how the Wi-Fi connectivity would perform, we experienced no troubles at all during our testing and shared images on social media websites without a hitch. It’s a feature that we predict will catch on with other manufacturers and if we were to speculate it may become a feature within entry-level D-SLR’s sooner than you might think.

It’s not only the Wi-Fi functionality that makes the NX20 stand out in the CSC market. i-Fn lens compatibility is unique to Samsung and as mentioned earlier it may not appeal to all users, but it does make for an intuitive way of changing the cameras most commonly used settings. As the old saying goes, you’ll either love it or hate it.

Detail and sharpness in our test images was very good and the handling can’t be criticised. Buttons including the menu button are much better located to the right of the screen rather than at the top left of the body. We’d say the AF performance is an improvement on its forerunner, however we’d still prefer to experience less hunting in low-light conditions. Adding to this, we’d also like the option of positioning the AF point right into the corners of the frame.

The real question mark with the NX20 lies with its price and performance – it’s very expensive and is a bit on the sluggish side when working quickly. Yes it’s well made and feels like it’ll last for a very long time but you could make a significant saving if you opt for an entry-level D-SLR or D-SLT instead. If a D-SLR really isn’t for you but you’d like a smaller CSC that looks much like one, the NX20 is worth taking a look at.

Full Specification

White Balance:
Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent (W, N, D), Tungsten, Flash,
ISO:
100-12800

Video:
1920 x 1080 30p / 1920 x 810 24p / 1280 x 720 60p / 1280 x 720 30p / 640 x 480 30p / 320 x 240 30p
Lens Mount:
Samsung NX

Built-in Flash:
Yes
Memory Card:
SD, SDHC, SDXC (guarantee up to 128GB)

Exposure Comp:
±3 EV (1 / 3EV step)
Compression:
Super fine, Fine, Normal

Cable Release:
Yes
Viewfinder Type:
EVF, 1.44 million dot

Output Size:
5472 x 3648
Field of View:
100%

LCD:
3in, 614k dot Swivel Type AMOLED Display
AF Points:
1point (Free selection) Multi: Normal 15points, Closeup 35points

White Balance Bracket:
Micro Adjustment: Each 7 Steps in Amber / Blue / Green / Magenta Axis
Sensor:
20.3Mp CMOS image sensor

Max Flash Sync:
1/180
Focal Length Mag:
1.5x

DoF Prview:
No
Dust Reduction:
No

Metering System:
TTL 221 (17 x 13) Block segment
Built-in Image Stabilisation:
No, lens based

Movie Mode:
Yes
Exposure Modes:
P, S, A, M

Live Mode:
Yes
Connectivity:
USB 2.0 (HI-SPEED) (micro USB Jack)

Weight:
341g
Power:
Rechargeable BP1310 battery

File Format:
JPEG, Raw, Raw + JPEG,
Dimensions:
122 x 89.6 x 39.5mm

Drive Mode:
Single, Continuous, Burst (5M size only), Self-timer, Bracket (AE / WB / PW) JPEG : High (8fps) up to 11 shots, Low (3fps) up to 15 shots selectable Burst : 10, 15, 30fps selectable, 30 shots by 1 releaseRAW : High (8fps), Low (3fps) selectable up to 8 shots
Focusing Modes:
Single AF / Continuous AF / MFSelection: 1point (Free selection) Multi: Normal 15points, Closeup 35points Face Detection: Max. 10 faces

Shutter Speeds:
30-1/8000th second
Colour Space:
sRGB, Adobe RGB

  1. 1. Samsung NX20 - Features
  2. 2. Design
  3. 3. Performance
  4. 4. Image Quality
  5. 5. Value
  6. 6. Verdict
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