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Samsung NX20 review

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Verdict:

Superb controls, incredibly sharp photos and innovative Wi-Fi functions – a big leap forward for the NX system

Review Date: 18 Jul 2012

Price when reviewed: £900

Buy it now for: £400
(see more store prices)

Supplier: http://www.jessops.com

Reviewed By: Ben Pitt

Our Rating 4 stars out of 5

The NX11's video mode was limited to 720p, and the NX20's 1080p videos gave much sharper details. There were still issues with moiré interference on repeating textures, though, and the lens motors interfered a little with the soundtrack. A dedicated record button means capture is only a single click away, but the video mode on the dial offers additional features including priority and manual exposure modes, with the ability to adjust the shutter speed and aperture while recording. 1080p videos are at 30fps, and there's also an option to record at a cinematic 1920x810 pixels at 24fps. Sony's NEX cameras remain our top choices for video with their silent lenses and lack of moiré, but the NX20 isn't far behind.

Samsung NX20
The 20-megapixel sensor and sharp lens reveal details that other cameras gloss over - click to enlarge

The best thing about the Samsung NX20 is its image quality. Other cameras we've seen with massive resolutions have merely served to highlight the limitations of their lenses, but the NX20 delivered incredibly sharp details, surpassing the 24-megapixel Sony NEX-7. Automatic exposures were impeccably judged and the default JPEG settings produced lifelike colours. It wasn't so competitive at fast ISO speeds, with more noise than from the NEX-7 and Olympus O-MD E-M5 (review coming soon). The difference only became significant at ISO 1600, though, and ISO 6400 shots were just about good enough for web sharing.

Samsung NX20
Shaded skin tones are a tough test for noise levels – the NX20 scores a borderline pass at ISO 1600 - click to enlarge

Performance is disappointing. It wasn't far off the advertised 8fps continuous speed in our tests, coming in at 7.7fps, but after 11 shots it took a 12-second breather. Rival cameras continue at a slower pace rather than stopping when their buffers are full. The 3fps mode slowed to 1fps after 11 frames, but the screen showed shots that were captured up to 10 seconds earlier, making it impossible to follow moving subjects.

The camera was slow to switch on and capture, at 1.9 seconds, and a shot-to-shot time of 1.4 seconds is disappointing at this price. We also found that certain buttons were unresponsive while photos were being saved. This meant delays of little more than a second when shooting JPEGs, but increased to around four seconds in raw mode.

Samsung NX20
This level of sharpness at the edge of a wide-angle shot is unprecedented - click to enlarge

We thought that the Samsung NX20 was overpriced when it was announced, but we must admit that we can't think of a better CSC that costs less. The Sony NEX-7 offers lower image noise, superior videos and a smaller, truly sumptuous design, but it costs £950. Meanwhile, it seems likely that the NX20's price will come down. It's already available from Jessops as a twin-lens kit – adding a 50-200mm telephoto to the bundle – for £900, the same price as the single-lens kit we tested.

The issues with performance keep it from five stars and an award, but it's a close call. For landscape photographers who value image detail over performance, this is the best CSC on the market.

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