Samsung’s flagship NX20 Smart Camera looks a lot like a small entry-level digital SLR, but it is actually a mirrorless interchangeable lens compact camera. The NX20 will appeal to consumers because it offers the enhanced creative capabilities and expanded versatility similar to that of a DSLR. It provides photographers an affordable entry to the world of interchangeable lenses and, in addition, retains all the familiar convenience, popular features, and ease-of-use of a point and shoot camera. Samsung took that simple equation one step further by building the NX20 a bit larger than most of its competition to create a more professional looking (and handling) camera. The NX20 replaces the popular NX10, in the top Korean camera-makers line-up.
Digital camera manufacturers introduce new models with almost mind numbing regularity, but the Samsung NX20 isn’t just another pretty face in the camera crowd. The NX20 features a 23.5mm x 15.7mm (APS-C sized) 20.3 megapixel CMOS sensor that Samsung claims, “…produces images that rival those of any premium DSLR.” The NX20 also provides Full HD (1080p @ 30 fps) video output, an 8 fps burst mode, and Instant Image/Video Sharing via Wi-Fi. The most obvious differences between the NX20 and its predecessor are an articulated LCD monitor – the NX10 had a fixed screen. The new 3.0-inch AMOLED LCD (614K) articulated (tilt-swivel) monitor couples very nicely with the NX20’s (800×600 pixels SVGA) eye-level electronic viewfinder (EVF) which automatically turns off the LCD when the camera detects the users eye at the EVF. Eagle-eyed users might notice that the NX20’s handgrip has been redesigned – it is now a bit larger and that contributes to more secure handling and better balance. A new electronic first-curtain shutter allows for a maximum shutter speed of 1/8000th of a second. Also included is a reduced shutter lag (40 milliseconds) and the ability to save up to three personalized custom shooting setups via the Custom Mode. There’s an electronic spirit level, which when used in conjunction with the NX20’s customizable grid display, makes correct framing a breeze. Finally, an expanded “Fn” menu is available; this is the most comprehensive and graphic function menu I’ve seen to date.
Menus are comprehensive and necessarily a bit complex, but the layout is logical, navigation is effortless, and the fonts are easy to read. The user interface is traditional SLR/DSLR style and all controls are logically placed. They should come easy to navigate for right-handed shooters. The NX20 was designed for advanced amateurs, photography enthusiasts, and part-time pros. The NX20 saves images in JPG or RAW formats. Samsung currently offers three camera options in the NX line, but lens options are a bit slim. Presently, this lineup consists of 3 zooms (18-55, 20-50, and 50-200) plus three pancake primes (16mm, 20mm, and 30mm) and a 60mm f/2.8 macro lens – however many lenses from other manufacturers (via adapters) can also be used.
I’ve only had the NX20 for a few days, but so far I’m impressed. My only complaint, to date, is that the cover of the battery/media storage compartment is hinged on the wrong side, making it slightly awkward to remove or insert the SD card. Image quality is first rate and the Samsung 18-55 kit zoom is noticeably better than similar kit zooms from other manufacturers. Colors are dependably accurate and saturation is more neutral than most of the NX20’s competition. So while this camera offers many popular features used in point and shoot cameras, images generated by the NX20 are better quality than those created by that type of camera. The NX20 will do a great job for advanced amateur shooters, photography enthusiasts, and part-time pro users. Beginners, amateur shutterbugs, family photographers, and casual image makers will probably find the smaller, cheaper, less complex, and similarly featured NX200 or NX1000 models more appealing. I’ll cover the NX20 more thoroughly in my upcoming full review.