At first glance you might think this chunky CSC is actually an entry-level DSLR, especially as the Samsung NX20 also crams a stonking 20.3MP into its body.
The Samsung NX20 is only really recognisable as a CSC once you pick it up and feel the weight of it, or rather lack of. You’ll then also notice that the 3in LCD not only dominates the back of the camera but doesn’t leave much room for buttons. This isn’t a bad thing though. In our opinion the less buttons the better if you’re keen to have a simple-to-use CSC.
The main selling point for us when this CSC came into the office was its Wi-Fi capabilities. We’re not techno geeks (honest), but when we hear a camera can be wirelessly linked to an iPhone we want to learn more. All you need to do is go into the App store from your iPhone, download the Samsung MobileLink app and sync the phone with the camera. With other options such as uploading images directly onto social networking sites, or even emailing them to a friend, this camera could be a favourite with serial bloggers.
Just like any camera you use for the first time, you’re going to find a few things to gripe about with the NX20. Our first niggle was the sensitive eye sensor underneath the EVF. This switches between Live View on the LCD and composing your shot through the viewfinder. For us, it wasn’t a seamless switch between the two. It may be quick, but we found every time we brought our eye up to the viewfinder we were faced with a bright LCD as our face got closer, then a black square as our eye hit the viewfinder. The blackness soon changed to a bright scene, but for anyone constantly picking the camera up and putting it down, there’s too much flashing of images going on.
Once we’d got over this minor quibble we found the NX20 very easy to use. Simply dial in settings using either your index finger on the top dial or your thumb on the dial at the back. When in manual mode you can change shutter speed with the top dial and aperture with the dial on the back. Having two dials is a real bonus, as other CSCs that are just as small only have one dial, leaving you puzzled as to how you change both.
With a handy record button nestled where the right thumb sits, switching to video mode is a piece of cake, and the results we captured were stunning. And the focusing is great in movie mode. You can scan across a scene and the focus changes seamlessly, albeit a tad on the noisy side when played back on a PC, but we’ve heard a worse from other cameras.
The images we shot on Super Fine JPEG were very sharp, with great tonal range and detail throughout. Shooting both JPEGs and RAWs together meant it didn’t take long to fill up a 4GB memory card though.
Another appealing feature was the camera’s anti-shake function. Amazingly we managed to shoot a scene at 1/2sec and get a pin-sharp shot without needing a tripod.
We were keen to try out the impressive 8fps frame rate, and it didn’t disappoint. However, we managed to rattle off a burst of nine images before the camera stopped to process the images stored on the buffer. This took another 20 seconds to record the nine Super Fine JPEG and RAW shots, which seemed like forever.
If you’re looking to step up from a point-and-shoot compact, or thinking about delving into the joys of semi-automatic shooting, better optics and burst rates that’ll allow you to shoot your child’s sports day without the worry of missing the shot, then this could be the CSC for you. But with a hefty price-tag of £899 there are a lot of other options available to you. If you’re willing to part with such a huge amount of cash we’d seriously consider looking into the entry-level DSLR market. That said, it is a lovely camera to hold, it doesn’t take too long to get used to where everything sits, and the selection of Smart Filters, anti-shake mode and Wi-Fi compatibility are great. The impressive results captured using the OIS technology and the reassuring meter readings we were was getting pretty much all the time also make it an attractive camera.
- Street price: Now discontinued
- Effective resolution: 20.3MP
- ISO range: 100-12,800
- Sensor type: 23.5x15.7mm CMOS
- Card types: SD, SDHC, SDXC
- File formats: RAW, JPEG
- Viewfinder: EVF with eye sensor
- LCD size: 3in tilted AMOLED screen
- Shooting speed: 8fps
- Video: Full HD (1080p)
- Weight: 341g
- Visit: www.samsung.com/uk
This review was first published in the September 2012 issue of Practical Photography - download back issues here.