Samsung NX20 review
23.5x15.7mm 20.0-megapixel sensor, 3.0x zoom (27-82.5mm equivalent), 580g
NX-series cameras were once the also-rans of the compact system camera (CSC) market, but with the NX20, Samsung has found its mojo. This is one of the most expensive CSCs currently available, but there are some compelling arguments to justify the price. Continuous performance is at 8fps, and the 20-megapixel resolution is one of the highest of any CSC – only the 24-megapixel Sony NEX-7 is higher. Then there's the superb controls that we've admired on previous NX cameras, with lots of single-function buttons and dials for adjusting settings without having to delve into the menu.
The screen is articulated – a big asset for macro photography, video capture and casual shooting from waist height. Because it's hinged at the side rather than the top, it's useful for self-portraits, too. Confusingly, though, all of the controls except for the shutter button stopped working when we rotated the screen for self-portrait capture. Colours on this AMOLED screen are even better than on the Samsung NX11, with deeper blacks thanks to a reflection-cancelling resin between the screen and its outer glass panel. The electronic viewfinder has been upgraded, too, with its 1.44-million dot resolution giving a view that's just as sharp as consumer SLRs' optical viewfinders.
The NX20 is one of many new Samsung cameras to incorporate Wi-Fi. Two modes work in conjunction with apps running on Android and iOS phones and tablets, with the camera acting as a Wi-Fi host – there's no need to be in range of a home network. MobileLink simply transfers photos and videos, and could be more streamlined, but Remote Viewfinder is more sophisticated. It shows a live preview on the phone or tablet's screen, complete with remote control of the shutter, flash, self-timer and resolution – perfect for taking group self-portraits. There's very little lag, both in the live view feed and the shutter release control. It's a shame there's no control over the autofocus point, though. It can also transfer the most recent picture, although minimising the app to inspect the photo using an iPad's Photos app closed the Wi-Fi connection.
This screenshot of Samsung's MobileLink app shows how smartphone users can browse photos on their camera, and then share those photos using the contacts, apps and mobile connection of their handset
Other Wi-Fi modes connect to an existing network to email photos and upload them to Facebook, Picasa or Photobucket. It's well implemented, with the camera remembering email addresses and passwords and resizing photos as necessary. Our only grumble is that there's no control over the destination folder on social networking sites – they're sent to a folder called NX20. Videos can be uploaded to YouTube, but only if they're recorded using the Web Sharing mode, which is limited to 320x240 pixels and 30 seconds. There's also an option to upload to Microsoft SkyDrive, but the sign-in process presented a dialog box in Korean that we couldn't navigate past.
Here's the main menu for all the Wi-Fi related options
An Auto Backup option works in conjunction with the bundled PC software, and transfers all photos and videos across a home network to a folder on the PC. Configuration is almost entirely automatic but the camera couldn't find the backup server running on our test PC. Another option turns the camera into a DLNA host, streaming photo slideshows and videos to smart TVs and set-top boxes. Videos took a while to buffer but slideshows were handled seamlessly.
We hope that Samsung irons out the kinks with a firmware update, and also that it adds the ability to transfer photos to a PC or tablet as soon as they're captured, regardless of shooting mode – a useful feature for inspecting photos on a big screen while shooting. However, Samsung has already set a high standard here, and other manufacturers have some catching up to do.