With classic SLR styling and a 20.3MP APS-C CMOS sensor, the NX30 could easily be mistaken for a new DSLR instead of Samsung’s latest CSC. Finding itself at the head of the NX line, the NX30 combines the best aspects of both the NX20 and NX300, but avoids the Galaxy NX’s unique Android operating system in favour of a more traditional menu layout.
With hybrid autofocusing, the ability to shoot 9fps in either RAW or JPEG, and an impressive maximum shutter speed of 1/8000sec, the NX30 has a formidable set of features. Taking around 12 RAWs or 30 JPEGs before the buffer fills, the NX30 also has improved ability to deal with continuous shooting over the Galaxy NX, and will appeal to those who like to shoot fast-moving subjects.
Autofocusing is made up of 105 phase detection points and 247 contrast detection points, offering fast and accurate focusing even in low light conditions, while the ISO range of 100-25,600 matches that of the NX300. In use, image quality is of a high standard right up to ISO 3200.
The NX30 uses the APS-C 20.3MP sensor that has been in all NX models since the release of the NX200 in 2011, and shares the same DRIMe IV processing engine that’s found in the NX300 and Galaxy NX. It has outputs for HDMI and USB ports, as well as an external mic socket, and will record Full HD (1080p) videos at 60fps. The battery gives a reasonable 360 shots from fully charged.
Staying true to its DSLR styling, the NX30 has a comparatively large body for a CSC. While this does make it cumbersome to pocket, it allows for the inclusion of a comfortable grip and thumb rest in its design. In fact, both in weight and in all dimensions excluding depth, the NX30 is comparable to Canon’s 100D DSLR.
With numerous external controls, most key settings are easily accessible via dedicated buttons or the kit lens’ Ifunction. The display’s touch functions work well for both menu navigation and the separate selection of both focus and exposure points. For those taking their first step from a compact camera these controls may feel slightly complex with two dials and scroll wheel, but both auto and smart camera mode – with its 16 scene pre-sets – offer quick point-and-shoot choices. The NX30 allows the saving of 12 custom shooting profiles, which can then be assigned to two custom modes on the mode dial.
The NX30’s remote mobile shooting app is easy to set up and control, while its image-sharing abilities through near-field communication (NFC) and Wi-Fi offer straightforward options for Cloud storage, email and social networking.
One of the most innovative new features of the NX30 is the tilting EVF, which can be angled upwards by 80°. The image it projects seems to be positioned too far away from the eyepiece for it to be completely comfortable though, resulting in a frustrating amount of empty space when looking into the viewfinder. I ended up using the LCD instead, which of course makes the NX30 feel more like a compact. The tilting EVF does have its benefits though, as both this and the 3in tiltable touchscreen mean the NX30 can be used to frame shots at even the most testing of angles. Adobe’s brilliant Lightroom 5 software is included with the camera.
The NX30 is available with a new 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 III kit lens that boasts OIS image stabilisation. The lens also has Samsung’s Ifunction button, which coupled with the scroll wheel allows the user to toggle and save a series of key shooting settings. This feature is great for making changes without having to alter the way the camera is held, or remove the eye from the viewfinder. In testing I found f/11 to be the lens’ sweet spot, performing well at 55mm but with some image softness and chromatic aberration in the corners at 18mm. This softness and aberration is accentuated at the lower apertures of f/4 and f/5.6. At 18mm barrel distortion is apparent, while at 55mm pincushion distortion is also noticeable. This distortion was evident despite having the camera’s in-built distortion correct setting enabled.
Currently there are 15 Samsung lenses available for the NX mount, including the first of its new premium ‘S Series’ lenses, the 16-50mm f/2-2.8 ED IOS zoom.
Useful tilting viewfinder
The NX30’s EVF can be pulled out and tilted to allow the camera to be used at demanding angles, without having to remove the eye from the viewfinder. Extending from the body, the EVF clicks up through four positions to a final resting angle of 80 degrees. For those who regularly shoot macro but prefer not to rely on tilting LCDs, this will be a very welcome addition. The camera’s diopter adjustment dial is also hidden on the viewfinder, reducing the chance of any accidental changes to the settings.
For those looking for a solid CSC with plenty of in-built features the NX30 could be a great choice. With plenty of easy to navigate controls and intuitive functions, the NX30 would make a great step up from a compact camera for those not quite ready to tackle a DSLR. However, those looking for a truly compact system or needing premium lens quality should look elsewhere. At such a large size and priced at £899 with kit lens, the NX30 is competing with smaller CSC systems, as well as entry-level DSLRs, many with more access to dedicated lenses.
- Kit price: £499 (Secondhand price as of June 2016)
- Effective resolution: 20.3MP
- Sensor type: 23.5x15.7mm CMOS
- Autofocus: 105-point phase detection, 247-point contrast detection
- ISO range: 100-25,600
- Metering: TTL 221-zone
- LCD: 3in 1037k-dot tiltable touchscreen
- Viewfinder: 0.5in 2359k-dot tiltable
- Shooting speed: 9fps
- Video: Full HD (1080p)
- Battery life: 360 shots
- Card type: SD, SDHC, SDXC
- Size (WxHxD): 127x96x42mm
- Weight: 434g
- Visit: www.samsung.com/uk
This review was first published in the May 2014 issue of Practical Photography - download back issues here.