The 14.6-megapixel Samsung GX-20 digital SLR is the result of a partnership between camera specialist Pentax and electronics giant Samsung that delivers impressive results.
Postioning of GX-20
The Samsung GX-20 replaces the Samsung GX-10 at the top of Samsung’s digital camera range. Much like its smaller and less advanced siblings, such as the NV compact series, the GX range has always sported stylish design and Samsung’s characteristic blue detailing, and the same rings true with the GX-20.
Improvements over the GX-10
While only little over a year has passed since the Samsung GX-10 ’s launch, several key improvements debut in the new model. The GX-figurehead now possesses a sensor complete with a ‘professional’ resolution – the 10.2MP CCD of old has been dispensed with to make way for a brand new, Samsung-manufactured 14.6MP CMOS APS-C sensor. As the GX20 possesses the same sensor as the K20D, both now boast the highest megapixel count of any current DSLR bar the £5,000 Canon EOS 1Ds Mk III. The increase in resolution means that large prints are not a problem, with the GX-20 capable of outputting images at a resolution of 4672 x 3104 pixels – more than enough for a majority of enthusiast photographers.
Said images are outputted in the form of either JPEG – with four different levels of compression – or Raw files in the universal DNG format. Samsung has decided not to include its own type of Raw encryption (as Pentax has with PEF files on the K20D) in what could be seen as its support of the growing groundswell of opinion in favour of a universal Raw format across all brands.
Pentax ‘K’ Lens Mount
One of the features of the labour and expertise exchange that appears in this Pentax partnership is that the GX-20 features the Pentax ‘K’ lens mount, meaning that you can switch from your Pentax system to the GX-20 if you so please, without having to trade all of your old Pentax lenses for the alternative Samsung/Schneider optics.
Extended ISO Range
Back to improvements on the Samsung GX-10, another of which appears in the form of an extended ISO range, which now runs from ISO 100 to 3200 (stretching to 6400 in ‘expanded’ mode). The GX-20’s LCD screen has also received a boost, gaining an extra 0.2in and 20k pixels to now measure 2.7 inches and 230k pixels respectively, with the screen displaying Samsung’s new liveview functionality.
AF System and Metering
With regards to updates on the GX-20 from the Samsung GX-10, that’s about where it ends. Elsewhere, many of the features from the predecessor remain. The GX-20 features 11 AF points – nine centrally located in a three by three grid, with two at both the extreme left and right of the frame for added AF flexibility. In-camera optical image stabilisation is present, with a sophisticated sensor-shift system taking care of both this and dust reduction. The expected exposure modes are present in the shape of PASM controls, along with an ISO Sensitivity Priority, Shutter and Aperture Priority, Automatic, Bulb and Flash X-sync modes. Both Auto and user-customisable modes are also available, meaning that shooting can be set up to cater for all levels of expertise. Much is the same in the case of the white balance, which is presented in several variations – Auto, the conventional presets, three colour temperature presets and full manual control.
Bracketing and HDR Creation
The GX-20 also offers bracketing options for both exposure and white balance – both of which are fully adjustable. Seemingly wary of not distancing itself too far from the consumer end of the DSLR market, Samsung has included a range of in-camera post-production tools. Accessed via the playback menu, a range of different effects can be applied to images already captured, from the more traditional b&w and sepia options, through to a dimension-altering ‘Slim’ filter and a ‘HDR’ filter that, though boasting the ‘HDR’ moniker, doesn’t actually create a ‘true’ HDR image. To achieve a true HDR file, multiple images are required at different exposures, and then these images are blended so that detail is shown in previously lost areas, such as shadows and highlights. The GX-20 instead simply amplifies the details in shadows and highlights, much the same as using the Curves tool in Photoshop, and does so on one image. As with JPEG conversion, this results in not quite as good an image as could be achieved with a little manual intervention, though it no doubt has its appeal.