Samsung NX30 First Impressions Review
Preview based on a pre-production Samsung NX30
As the compact camera market continues to decline, Samsung has focused its efforts on mirrorless cameras, and recent models such as the NX300 show that the Company's products are quite competitive. Samsung's latest flagship mirrorless - the NX30 - is arguably its most enthusiast-oriented camera yet.
The NX30 uses the same 20 megapixel, Samsung-designed CMOS sensor and Hybrid AF system as the compact NX300, and puts it into an SLR-style body, with a built-in electronic viewfinder and generous hand grip. Some of the biggest changes from the NX20 that came before it include a pull-out, tilting EVF, higher quality Super AMOLED display, improved video capabilities, and even more Wi-Fi features.
Samsung NX30 key features
- 20.3 megapixel CMOS sensor with support for on-chip phase detection AF
- Hybrid AF system has 105 phase-detect points and 247 contrast-detect points
- DRIMeIV image processor
- Tilting, XGA electronic viewfinder pulls away from the camera and tilts upward by 80 degrees
- Improved fully-articulating 3-inch Super AMOLED display
- More customizable buttons, plus dedicated drive mode dial
- 9 fps burst mode
- 1080/60p video recording with 'dual IS', mic input, and audio level adjustment
- Uncompressed HDMI output at 30 fps
- Wi-Fi with NFC
- 'Smart Camera 3.0' features include improved remote shooting, 'Group Share', and baby monitor
- Includes Adobe Lightroom 5
While both cameras have SLR-style bodies and fully articulating displays, the NX30 has little else in common with the NX20 that came before it. It's taller and wider, though thinner, thanks to a refined grip design. This grip - along with the thumb rest on the rear - make the NX30 more comfortable to hold. As you'll see later, the NX30 also comes with a new power zoom 16-50mm kit lens.
Perhaps the most significant design change is the NX30's new pull-out, tilting electronic viewfinder. In order to tilt the EVF, you must pull it away from the camera body (from our experience with a pre-production camera we found it a bit too easy to accidentally push back in). Once that's done, the viewfinder can tilt upward as much 80 degrees, similar to the EVF on the Panasonic GX7. In terms of resolution, the NX30's EVF has 2.36 million dots.
The display on the NX30 has also been improved upon compared to the NX20. While it's still 3" in size and fully articulating, it's now 'Super AMOLED', with a resolution of 1.03 million-dot equiv. (vs 614k on the NX20). Samsung points out that this display uses an S-Stripe pixel layout, rather than PenTile. The Company also touts a 33% improvement in brightness compared to its predecessor.
The 'guts' of the camera are considerably different, with Samsung leveraging other divisions of the company. The DRIMeIV processor uses a single-core, 800Mhz Cortex-A9 processor, as well as a SGX540 GPU, which are similar to what you'd find inside a lower-end smartphone these days.
The video features on the NX30 are competitive with higher-end mirrorless cameras. It can record movies at 1080/60p with stereo sound and dual (optical + electronic) image stabilization. The camera sports a mic input, and manual audio level adjustment. Enthusiasts will be pleased to know that the NX30 can output uncompressed video over HDMI at 30p.
One nice extra is that Samsung is throwing in a copy of Lightroom 5, at least in the USA and Europe (other regions TBC).
Smart Camera 3.0
Samsung was really the pioneer of Wi-Fi-enabled cameras, and its 'smart camera' lineup is now in its third generation. Notably, if you're using a compatible smartphones you'll be able to take advantage of the NX30's NFC feature, which allows you tap the devices together to share photos.
A new Remote Viewfinder Pro app offers further control over exposure and camera settings compared to previous versions of the software.
Other features include AutoShare (which transmits photos to mobile devices as they are taken), MobileLink (sends a photo to four devices at once), and tighter Dropbox integration. The NX30 can also serve as a baby monitor (or surveillance camera) - something we haven't seen before, for better or worse.
Body & Design
The first impression you get upon picking up the NX30 is that it's light - perhaps too much so. Samsung says that its designers spent a lot of time designing the grip, which has paid off, as it fits perfectly in your hand. The EVF protrudes away from the camera by a decent amount, but this also keeps nose prints off of the AMOLED display.
In terms of size, the NX30 is considerably larger than its predecessor, as well as other mirrorless cameras in its class. If you exclude the EVF, the Samsung is essentially as large as a Nikon D5300.
In your hand
Viewfinder and LCD
The NX30 is the first Samsung mirrorless camera to offer an articulating EVF which tilts upward by as much as 80 degrees, making it easier to get those low-angle shots. This is quite a nice feature for shooting flowers in bright daylight where a screen can easily become washed out. The main screen is also articulated and can be closed to protect the screen when not in use.
One thing we did notice about the viewfinder is that when it's in an extended position, it's quite easy to accidentally push it back into the camera.
The display on the NX30 has been dramatically improved compared to the NX20. This fully articulating AMOLED display has 1.04 million dots (arranged in an S-Stripe pattern) and is 33% brighter than the screen on the NX20, according to Samsung. The display is also touch-enabled, which allows you to easily focus or take a photo.
Compared to NX20
The NX30 is marginally larger than the NX20, but has a much more substantial grip as you can see on the top-down comparison. This allows the shutter button to move forward, leaving more room for an additional Wi-Fi button and dedicated drive mode dial.