Steve's Conclusion

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Steve's SnapShot
    Samsung NX30 275 wide.jpg
  • 20.3MP APC-C CMOS Image Sensor
  • DRIMeIV Image Processor
  • NX AF (Auto Focus) System II
  • 1/8000 sec Shutter Speed
  • 9 FPS (frames per second) Continuous Shooting
  • Tiltable Electronic Viewfinder (2.359K dots)
  • 3.0-inch Super AMOLED Swivel and Touch Display
  • Full HD 1080p Video Recording
    • 3D Video (with optional 45mm F/1.8 2D/3D lens)
    • 3.5mm microphone input
    • HDMI live streaming (@ Full HD 30p)
  • ISO 100-25600
  • OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) Duo
  • WiFi & NFC (Near Field Communication)
    • Tag & Go
    • Photo Beam
    • MobileLink
    • AutoShare
    • Remote Viewfinder Pro
  • Pre-loaded Dropbox app
  • 2 Custom Modes
  • i-Function
  • i-Function Plus
Pros
  • NX30 shoots extremely sharp and well exposed photos
  • Both RAW and JPEG formats available
  • Camera works extremely fast with especially strong autofocus capabilities
  • Great mix of basic and advanced shooting options
  • Touch screen makes this advanced camera easy to use
  • Great to have articulated display screen
  • Addition of electronic viewfinder expands this camera's versatility
  • Multiple wireless connectivity options available
  • Wi-Fi capabilities are among the easiest to use on a camera in the current marketplace
  • Camera's ergonomics are great
Cons
  • High ISO settings tend to show some noise
  • Video results could be a little better
  • Camera almost feels too lightweight with a bit too much plastic
  • Camera is larger than most mirrorless ILCs
  • Extendable EVF feels like overkill or a gimmick when paired with articulated display screen
  • Price could be a little lower
  • Battery compartment and memory card compartment are together, rather than separate memory card compartment on side panel
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 1.0 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused = about 0.1 seconds
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = about 0.1 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/ flash = 0.8 seconds (review off), 1.9 seconds (minimum review on)
  • Shot to shot delay w/o flash = 0.6 seconds (review off), 1.4 seconds (minimum review on)
  • Continuous Shot High = 10 frames in 1.2 seconds at 20M
  • Continuous Shot Normal = 10 frames in 2.2 seconds at 20M
  • Burst Mode = 20 frames in 1.9 seconds at 5M
All tests taken using Program mode, flash off, review off, and all other settings at default unless noted.
Bottom Line
The Samsung NX30 is a strong contender in the upper end of the mirrorless interchangeable lens camera category. It offers plenty of great photography features, including all of the advanced shooting modes you'd expect, along with fast performance and very good image quality. The physical design of the NX30 is outstanding, with plenty of buttons and a right-hand grip that make this model feel a bit like a DSLR, but with a thin enough camera body that it still takes advantage of its mirrorless design. Add in an electronic viewfinder, touch screen display that's articulated, and built-in wireless connectivity options, and the NX30 has all the bells and whistles you could want in an interchangeable lens camera. The starting price with a kit lens is a bit high, and video quality could be better, but the NX30 is a very nice Samsung ILC offering.
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for an easy-to-use ILC camera that still offers great performance and image quality, while also featuring plenty of high-end add-on features, such as a touch screen display and a viewfinder.
While nearly all major digital camera manufacturers now offer mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras (ILCs), Samsung was among the earliest manufacturers to embrace the mirrorless ILC design. And Samsung continues to come up with innovative ideas when working with the advanced mirrorless design.

One of Samsung's latest ILC offerings, the NX30, is a solid all-around performer that creates sharp photos. And while at least one of the interesting design options with the NX30 -- the extendable viewfinder -- may seem a bit unnecessary, this is still a great camera with some cool features that make it very easy to use.

Many of Samsung's most noticeable changes to the NX30 versus the company's previous mirrorless ILC offerings involve the physical design of the camera.

Past advanced mirrorless cameras from Samsung were thin models that were sometimes difficult to hold properly. But the NX30 includes a right-hand grip that makes it easy to use. Most of this camera's buttons and dials are well positioned, further increasing the NX30's strong ergonomics. You do have to sacrifice a bit of the natural thinness of an ILC with this design, but I liked using it.

As with most Samsung cameras, the manufacturer has installed a high-quality AMOLED display screen with the NX30. It's a 3.0-inch articulated display that also has touch screen capabilities along with 1.037 million pixels of resolution.

One aspect of the Samsung NX30's design that may seem a little odd is its extendable electronic viewfinder. This means you can extend the viewfinder up to 80 degrees vertically in relation to the camera body. While Samsung isn't the first camera manufacturer to offer an extendable viewfinder, I'm not sure the extendable option is all that necessary, especially since the display screen articulates, and you can use it to shoot odd-angle photos. Still most photographers will be pleased to have the option of having a viewfinder available, and a few may even really like the extendable viewfinder, such as when shooting outdoors in bright sunlight from a tripod where the display screen may not be bright enough to be seen easily.

The aspects of the NX30's design that you can't see inside the camera are great too. The NX30 works extremely fast, basically eliminating shutter lag and minimizing shot-to-shot delays. The manufacturer included an 800MHz Cortex-A9 processor, which contributes to this camera's speed.

Samsung included an APS-C-sized 20.3-megapixel image sensor (23.5 by 15.7 mm) with the NX30, which creates high-quality images. This type of image sensor size is more often found in entry-level DSLR cameras versus other mirrorless ILCs. You can shoot in either RAW or JPEG image formats, or you can shoot in both formats at the same time.

Image quality is very good in nearly all shooting conditions with the NX30. You'll have outstanding results with adequate lighting, as the NX30's autofocus system is fast and sharp, and this model's color accuracy and exposure both are very good too. Its photo quality compares well with DSLR cameras offered at a similar or slightly lower price point. You can make extremely large prints with this camera's photos.

Because the NX30's autofocus function is so good, you may not choose to use manual focus all that often, but Samsung did give NX30 owners the ability to shoot photos with manual focus.

Low light photography quality is good with the Samsung NX30, but it could be a little better. Photos shot with the built-in flash are of an adequate quality, but some photos will be washed out. No external flash unit was included with my test kit, but you can purchase one separately and likely would receive better results versus the built-in popup flash.

Noise isn't significantly noticeable until you reach the ISO 3200 and ISO 6400 settings. Although Samsung is offering ISO 12800 and ISO 25600 settings with the NX30, the noise is excessive at those settings, and you probably won't use them much.

While there are plenty of advanced features with this camera, the NX30 is extremely easy to use, especially compared to other advanced cameras, thanks in large part to the touch screen feature. This Samsung camera has all of the advanced shooting modes you'd expect to find on a model in this price range, yet Samsung's designers did a nice job of making use of graphical elements to take full advantage of the touch screen, a bit like a smartphone interface. The NX30 doesn't run the Android operating system like some other Samsung cameras do, but the NX30's menu structure is still easier to use than what's found from most camera makers.

Even though some photographers will want to rely primarily on the touch screen display to navigate the camera's settings, Samsung has included quite a few buttons and dials with this camera, which is a design feature found more often with DSLR cameras than mirrorless ILCs.

And some of the buttons work well in tandem with the touch screen display. For example there's an Fn button on the back of the camera that leads to a graphical grid where you can make changes to many of the camera's settings. And when looking to make quick changes to settings such as the ISO or aperture in an advanced shooting mode, you can touch the iFunction button on the lens to display a graphical ring on the screen.

If you pair a smartphone with the Samsung Camera App and the NX30 you can remotely control the camera, further enhancing the flexibility offered with this model. The NX30's overall Wi-Fi functionality, including an ability to transfer photos from the camera to a smartphone, a computer, or a social networking site automatically, are very solid and are a bit easier to set up and use than the Wi-Fi options in cameras from most other manufacturers.

There are plenty of fun aspects offered with the Samsung NX30 beyond the ability to share photos via Wi-Fi with social networking sites. You can shoot with a variety of special effect features, adding some fun options to your images. You also can add effects after you shoot the photos with in-camera editing options, which are easy to use. There's also a panoramic photo option with this model.

Video quality is good with this camera, although it's not quite able to match the NX30's strong image quality. You can record at a maximum 1080p HD 60p video quality. Samsung included both HDMI and USB ports with the NX30. You will charge the battery inside the camera using the included USB cable and AC adapter, and battery life is very good with this model, although using Wi-Fi or NFC connectivity options extensively will drain the battery quickly.

Bottom Line - Samsung has been one of the market leaders in terms of manufacturing mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras (ILCs), and its latest model falls directly in line with the strengths of those past cameras. The Samsung NX30 provides plenty of advanced features, while remaining easy to use. You'll find an articulated touch screen display with this model, but it also offers an electronic viewfinder. It has built-in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity, making it easy to share photos with social networking sites. Samsung's designers did a really nice job with the ergonomics of the NX30, as it has a large right-hand grip that makes it easy to hold the camera versus other mirrorless ILCs. It also has quite a few buttons and dials that make it more resemble a DSLR than an ILC, and everything is well marked and within easy reach. Best of all the NX30 has excellent image quality and fast performance levels. The NX30 certainly isn't perfect though. It would be nice if the Samsung NX30 had a slightly lower starting price than its $1,000 level. If you're shooting in low light, image quality could be better, as there's excessive noise at high ISO settings. Video quality is good, but it should be a little better in this price range. And the right-hand grip makes this model quite a bit thicker than other mirrorless options. To be honest however, I'm nitpicking a bit on a very solid camera. If you can find it below its suggested price point, the NX30 offers strong performance and more than enough features and flexibility to meet the needs of many different types of photographers.

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.

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