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Samsung NX20 -- This camera takes great pictures!
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Samsung NX20 — This camera takes great pictures!

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The Samsung NX20 is aiming for that niche between advanced point and shoot cameras and high end DSLRs. It is mirrorless, interchangeable-lens camera with a digital viewfinder, a DSLR-sized APS-C sensor with Wi-Fi and GPS. The NX20 is targeting the  enthusiast photographer who wants DSLR performance in a (slightly) smaller, lighter package.

Like most things Samsung these days the NX20 is all plastic..not a bad thing..serious polycarbonate is strong durable and attractive and at the same time lightweight. It is a good looking camera..almost a big as a consumer DSLR. It has a streamlined look about it nice rounded corners..soft rubberized finishes where it is needed to improve the grip. Pretty standard buttons and knobs on the top..the same with the back which is dominated by a gorgeous AMOLED monitor. This is a swing-out, rotating display that’s plenty bright, has minimal delay, and renders color accurately to the final image. Viewing angle is wide but, unfortunately the glossy finish creates reflection problems outside. Fortunately there is a Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) that while not as bright as the rear monitor it is higher resolution so does the job. I liked the sensor that turns off the EVF when you are not looking through it..saves battery and removes a distraction.

 

But it is not just a pretty face..The Samsung NX20 boasts a solid feature set..notably:

  • 20.3 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
  • Samsung NX Mount
  • 18-55mm OIS III Kit lens
  • 3 inch Tilting AMOLED screen
  • Wi-Fi built in
  • Full HD Video with stereo sound
  • ISO100 to ISO12800
  • 8fps continuous shooting – Full Resolution
  • 10/15/30fps Burst mode – 5mp
  • EVF SVGA with eye-detection

While Samsung lenses may not be the best of the bunch, they are petty close to the best. I really liked the i-Function feature; each lens  has a dedicated iFN button on the side of the barrel, pressing this lets you change specific settings for the selected shooting mode by turning a ring on the end of the barrel, outboard of the zoom cuff. Press it when set to aperture priority and you can control both aperture and exposure compensation. Use it in shutter priority mode and it controls exposure compensation and shutter speed. It very quickly becomes second nature to click and twist when you need to make an adjustment.

Samsung offers 9 lenses for the NX20 ranging from a 16mm Ultra-Wide Pancake to a 50-200mm Tele Zoom. I tried the 18-55mm Standard Zoom and the 18-200 Long Zoom. Both took excellent pictures but on both I fund the zoom cuff to be stiff and not smooth enough to use while shooting video.


Now let’s take some pictures..I took the camera and the optional 18-200mm zoom lens to the Rogers Cup to see how it performed. Full disclosure here…I am not a very good photographer..I use an advanced point and shoot generally on automatic so this was way more camera than I was used to. Still the results were pretty good. Good colour saturation..at 200mm the autofocus seemed a little slow..the light wasn’t the greatest..late evening and cloudy. The wide shot captured the feel of the stadium..the full telephoto shot looked good and  a tad soft..just enough to be interesting. I think I did something wrong on the last shot as she was moving fast  setting up for a backhand return..perhaps..but I still like the result. (click on the pictures for full size images)


And for a change of pace here are two more shots. one  from a couple of feet, the other from a couple of miles

Shooting video was another story..at 200mm the autofocus seemed to be struggling to keep up and there were pauses that I presume were the camera writing to the SD card. I was impressed that the lens based anti-jitter worked well at this distance and focal length where even a little shake would be really noticeable.

<http://youtu.be/3xWGHi3PL-w

Thinking the pauses may have had something to do with the fast action, I tried something less active but still at long range. The pauses were still there.

http://youtu.be/Oi3OXeBxrxY

Finally I tried one more time and no pauses which leads me to believe it is some sort of software glitch.

http://youtu.be/kFr_IZIvIEA
This camera is loaded with connection possibilities..the usual USB and HDMI but it also has WiFi which enables you to Save photos and videos directly to a computer or cloud service while you shoot, email them, print them wirelessly, or upload them straight to Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. You’ll never have to worry about losing a great shot, running out of storage space, or remembering to bring the right cable along. You can also send to DLNA capable devices such as a Smart TV.

One of the coolest features is Remote Viewfinder…you can wirelessly connect the NX20 to another WiFi equipped device and use it as a remote viewfinder and remote control. Right now control is pretty limited..you can control the flash, timer and resolution. It would be nice to able to control the shutter and aperture for example..especially for nature shooting in the woods where this feature would be a great asset. By the picture is instantly transferred to your remote device. I read that it could be picky about devices..I tried it on a Samsung Galaxy S III and as expected there were no issues. I also used it without problems on a HTC One S, iPhone 4S, Google Nexus 7, iPad2 and iPad.


I liked the feel of the NX20..it has nice balance even with the big zoom lens. Controls are nicely laid out and for the most part intuitive. The camera provides lots of information on the screen/viewfinder so you always know what it is doing. One exception is autofocus while shooting video..you never quite now if and when it has focused or on what.


Every time you change a setting or menu item a little description pops up on the screen..good thing..because in its travels my demo unit lost it instruction manual and DVD. I could have downloaded the manual but found the camera controls intuitive enough to manage without a manual..still to get the best out of this powerful camera I recommend reading the manual.


Samsung’s NX20 is a fun easy to use camera that performs much like a DSLR without the bulk. It is a nice compact camera that feels good and well-balanced in the hand. This camera takes great pictures and is loaded with features for creative photographers. I don’t know of any third party lenses for the NX20 but the nine options provided by Samsung pretty much cover the range most of us would want.

I highly recommend this camera for the advanced still photographer..based on my experience I cannot recommend it for video because of the unpredictability of the autofocus especially on rapidly changing ranges. The stuttering I experienced I suspect is a software problem that can be fixed.
The Samsung NX20 is available from specialty camera stores for $999.99 with the 18-55MM lens kit or $899.99 for the body only. In the US the price is $1099.99 with the lens kit and $899.99 for the body only.

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Bob Benedetti

Former RCAF Fighter Pilot Bob worked for CTV Montreal as a Reporter, Producer and Executive producer for 35 years retiring in 2004. Bob started reporting on personal technology in 1995 at CTV and continues today at Home Technology Montreal

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