Steve's Conclusion

By

Steve's SnapShot
Thumbnail image for NX20_FS1_B_1024x768.jpg
  • 20.3-Megapixel Imaging Sensor
  • 3.0-Inch AMOLED LCD Screen
  • EVF
  • Optical Image Stabilization
  • Dedicated Video Record Button
  • Smart Auto mode
  • 1080p HD video recording
  • Built-in WiFi
  • 3 Custom Shooting modes
  • Pop-up Flash unit
  • 10fps burst shooting
  • iFn on select lenses
  • Hot Shoe for various accessories
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card compatible
Pros
  • Smart Auto shooting mode is accurate and easy in all situations
  • Dedicated Video Capture Button is always ready to record
  • Outstanding image quality in all of our images
  • Image Stabilization helps keep images sharp
  • 3.0-inch AMOLED LCD is one of the nicest we have seen
  • Excellent shooting performance
  • Comfortable and easy to handle camera body
  • Simple camera controls with enough control for full manual mode
  • WiFi takes sharing images and camera functions to a whole new level
  • HDMI output for viewing on a HDTV
Cons
  • Expensive, will be an investment to get started
  • Highest ISO settings are not useable
  • Very short battery life compared to a dSLR
  • No external audio input
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 1.6 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = approx. 1/10 to 3/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 0.88 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 1.20 seconds
  • Sequential burst low=  3.16fps up to 12 shots
  • Sequential burst high= 7.33fps up to 11 shots
  • High Speed Burst = 10fps 5M up to 28 shots
  • All of our tests were completed using a Sony UHS-1, 94MB/s, 32GB SDHC memory card, Program mode, ISO auto, flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults.
Bottom Line
The Samsung NX20 is a compact and powerful alternative to a bulky dSLR. This interchangeable lens camera provides all of the power and control of a dSLR with the ease of a point-n-shoot. Performance and quality are also  great, making this an excellent option to consider if you don't like the size of a dSLR.
Pick This Up If...
You want the image quality and performance of dSLR, without the bulky size. 
Samsung's NX20 is a compact interchangeable lens camera that is slightly larger than most other EVIL (Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens) cameras on the market today. It still features a standard dSLR shape, but in a much more manageable size. It is also a little easier to handle than some of the really compact models like the Sony NEX and Nikon One series cameras. Just because this is a smaller camera doesn't mean that it comes with small features. It sports a 20.3-Megapixel APS-C sized imaging sensor, built-in WiFi, 3.0-inch AMOLED LCD with 614k dots, 1/8000 sec. shutter, Full 1080p HD video capture and an excellent collection of available lenses. All of these features integrate perfectly to allow anyone, no matter how much photography experience they have, to grab the camera and shoot. Settings from Smart Auto all the way through manual give the ease of a point-n-shoot, to the full creativity that even a seasoned pro can enjoy. 

Helping to lead the way with a new camera feature, the NX20's WiFi capabilities really shows off what is possible and sets the standard for others to try to follow. We are talking about more than just allowing the camera to connect to a wireless hotspot to instantly upload and share your images with social media and email, both of which the camera does, and with great ease. We are also talking about its ability to create a WiFi connection that you can connect to with a smartphone or tablet. With the assistance of a couple FREE apps from Samsung (Mobile Link and Remote Viewfinder), it is possible to view all of the images on the camera as soon as they are taken from your remote device. It is also possible to control certain aspects of the camera from the phone, such as the shutter release, adding a whole new dimension to taking a self portrait. Finishing off the WiFi capabilities allows for instant viewing to Samsung HDTV's as well as instant backup to a PC or SkyDrive.

Samsung made the operation of the NX20 incredibly easy, as it has features from both point-n-shoot and dSLR style models, giving you the best of both worlds. The controls on the body have been kept very simple, so you will not be intimidated if you are not used to a large, complicated camera. On the other hand, you will find everything you need for full manual shooting with the shortcuts found on the 4-way controller or hidden under the Fn button. There are also two control dials so you never need to scroll through menus for the major shooting functions. Adding further to this camera's versatility, Samsung has also added an innovative iFn button to many of their lenses, including the 18-55mm kit lens. This button allows you to change settings to be controlled with the top control dial. It ranges from scene modes to EV to shutter and aperture settings. 

As one of the leaders in creating digital displays from HDTV's to Smartphones, Samsung has brought this amazing technology to the NX20 as well with its 3.0-inch, 614,000 dot  AMOLED LCD display and incredibly sharp EVF (electronic view finder). Both feature an approx. 100% field of view, so there will never be any guessing about what you capture. Also one advantage over an optical viewfinder is that the EVF or LCD will show you what the camera is capable of capturing, which is great for shooting in high dynamic range situations. If something is too bright or too dark, it will show that way while you are composing. The LCD screen is incredibly bright, sharp and features one of the best color ranges that we have seen on camera. The screen is able to rotated and angled, allowing you to easily compose in difficult shooting situations, including self portraits. If you prefer the EVF, you will see all of the same information as the LCD, with the same sharpness and clarity. An Eye Contact Sensor allows the EVF to become active whenever the camera is put up to your face, and the LCD to be activated again when it is taken away.

Performance is not lost with the NX20, as it is comparable to most entry level dSLR and even some mid-range dSLR cameras. It starts quickly, capturing its first image in well under 2 seconds. Autofocus is also lightning fast, taking between 1/10 and 3/10 of a second, with no noticeable shutter lag. In single shot mode, the camera can capture images as fast as 1.14fps without the flash or 0.83 with it active. The camera's continuous and burst shooting modes are also very powerful, providing frame rates of 7.33fps on high and 3.16fps on low, all at full 20.3-Megapixel resolution. It also features a burst shooting mode at 10.0fps for a 5M image. Our continuous shooting was capable of capturing up to 12 images before filling the buffer, while the burst came up just shy of 30 images. The burst modes all but disappear when RAW shooting is turned on, so you will have to settle for jpeg only images in burst modes. All of our tests were completed using a Sony UHS-1, 94MB/s, 32GB SDHC memory card, Program mode, ISO auto, flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults.

The image quality from the NX20 is fantastic. Exposure, color, sharpness and incredible detail are all present throughout all of our sample images, indoors and out. The NX20 has definitely provided us with dSLR image quality from a much smaller package. You can see the excellent exposure and vivid colors in our outdoor samples. Even in high contrast and high dynamic range situations, the camera did very well, keeping the highlights in range and very low noise in the shadows. Chromatic aberrations were also controlled very well. Indoors we see the same excellent exposure, and amazing amount of detail in the images. ISO 100 through ISO 1600 produced excellent results, providing high levels of detail and low levels of noise, great for large prints. At ISO 3200, the noise really started to show, and the details started to fade. Anything above ISO 3200 is too noisy to consider for prints, even small ones. 

Samsung's face detection software, both in Smart Auto and Portrait mode works very well. It quickly finds faces within the frame and does an excellent job following them. Our sample images show that the camera had no troubles focusing and exposing for the detected faces, providing realistic skin tones and textures for our subjects. While shooting with the pop-up flash unit, we did see some slight redness in the eyes of our subjects, even with the red-eye reduction flash.

On top of the camera you will find the built-in flash unit, which you may not find on all EVIL cameras. The built-in flash unit is capable of syncing with the camera at shutter speeds slower than 1/180 sec. First and second curtain modes are also available along with fill, red eye and auto flash modes as well. There is also a hot shoe for external accessories such as a more powerful flash unit or shotgun microphone. The hot shoe provides all of the connections that the camera will need to run any of the accessories that are available, although they may need their own batteries. 

When it comes to the NX20's video recording capabilities, we were fairly impressed. In excellent lighting conditions the camera excelled capturing clear, sharp videos with great color. As you can see in our sample, in less than perfect light the camera captured smooth video but a little dark and grainy. Audio is captured with the built-in stereo microphone, which fairs much better than you will find on most point-n-shoot cameras. You also have the ability to attach a shotgun mic to the hot shoe on top of the camera for increased audio quality. They did not however, include a mic input to use a non-Samsung audio accessory. The videos play back smoothly on any media you want to watch them, either on the camera, HDTV or just watching the MP4 files on your computer.

Powering the NX20 is a 7.4V, 1300mAh rechargeable Li-Ion battery. During our tests, we were able to capture approx. 200 images and several short movies on a single charge, while also playing with the WiFi capabilities; all with power to spare. This is right in line with the claims of being able to capture 360 images or 140 minutes of Full 1080p HD video. This is about the only place that this camera comes up a bit short of a dLSR, as it has to power a screen, either the LCD or EVF, all the time. Thankfully the camera comes with a portable charging unit that allows you to keep several batteries charged and ready to go at all times. You will always want to have a spare, especially if you plan on long days of shooting or several day trips where you might not have a lot of opportunities to charge them.

Bottom Line - Samsung's NX20 is a fantastic alternative to a dSLR camera, providing you with a much more compact body and all of the power, features and image quality. Sporting a 20.3-Megapixel imaging sensor, Full 1080p video capture, 7.3fps high speed image capture, WiFi capabilities and one of the best LCD screens that you will find, you will be very pleased once you have this little gem in your hands. Ease of use, new innovative features and performance that will turn heads will make you proud to sport this camera on your next trip or at your next sporting event. With a MSRP of US $1099.99, this camera is an investment, but it has proven itself against the much bigger, more expensive dSLR cameras.

Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.