Samsung NX30 Review
|Full model name:||Samsung NX30|
|Kit Lens:||3.06x zoom
|Viewfinder:||EVF / OLED|
|Dimensions:||5.0 x 3.8 x 1.6 in.
(127 x 96 x 42 mm)
|Weight:||13.2 oz (375 g)|
Samsung NX30 Review -- Hands-on Preview
by Eamon Hickey and Mike Tomkins
Preview posted 01/02/2014
Samsung NX30: Connected Flagship. Samsung's NX-series of mirrorless CSC cameras welcomes a new flagship with the NX30. Like its predecessor, the NX20, this new Samsung is styled like an SLR and it sports an improved version of the older camera's 20.3-megapixel APS-C format CMOS sensor. Much else is new, including Samsung's latest connectivity features, the improved hybrid AF system from the NX300, an extendable and tiltable electronic viewfinder, and a 3.5mm jack for external microphones.
Although it retains a characteristic family look, Samsung has taken a fresh pencil to the NX30's design, making it a bit bigger and heavier than the NX20 (13.2 oz. without batteries compared to 12 oz. for the NX20). Among the biggest changes is the new deeper grip, which gives the camera a very secure feel in the hand. We like the NX30's general heft and handling and the pre-production model we used feels precisely and solidly made. Many of the NX30's controls have been slightly tweaked or repositioned, but the overall layout is largely the same as the NX20. One exception is a new top-deck drive mode dial, which lets you directly select single image or burst shooting as well as bracketing or the self-timer.
While the sensor in the Samsung NX30 continues with the 20.3-megapixel resolution we've seen in several previous NX cameras, its performance has been improved by moving to a new manufacturing process that uses copper, rather than the more common aluminum, metal interconnects. The practical result is lower noise overall, which allowed Samsung to increase the camera's maximum ISO to 25,600 and may improve dynamic range at lower ISO settings. Although not exactly an intrinsic camera feature, we'll note here that the NX30 will come bundled with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 in the U.S., rather than the Samsung Raw Converter 4.0 software that came with the NX20.
The NX30 also gets Samsung's latest AF system, a hybrid of contrast detection and on-chip phase detection, dubbed "Samsung NX AF System II" and first seen on the NX300. The system includes 105 phase-detection AF points, with several cross-type sensors in the middle area of the frame (we're working to confirm how many), and 247 contrast-detection AF points. We couldn't subject the NX30's AF to any kind of comprehensive test -- and we had no moving targets to test with -- but in our limited use we found the system to be fast and decisive on stationary subjects. We were generally impressed with this same AF system when we reviewed it on the NX300, and have no reason to think it won't be as good or better on the NX30. Also on the performance front, the NX30's maximum shutter speed is 1/8000s, and it can shoot at a burst rate of 9 frames-per-second.
Perhaps the most noticeable new feature on the Samsung NX30 is its pull-out, tiltable electronic viewfinder, which boasts 2.4 million dot, XGA (1024 x 768) resolution. It can tilt up as far as 80 degrees. The viewfinder did indeed appear as sharp to the eye as the specifications would suggest, but in our short indoor hands-on with it we couldn't evaluate its ability to handle bright and especially high-contrast scenes (often the Achilles heel of EVFs). The tilting function works very handily, and we think it'll be especially useful for tripod and macro shooting in bright light where the articulating monitor might not be as easy to view. That monitor is a new 3-inch Super AMOLED tilt-and-swivel touch display with 1.04 million dot resolution (288 ppi). Again, we had no bright outdoor light to test it under, but it's very crisp and vivid. Sitting above the EVF is a built-in flash with a guide number of 11 (meters) at ISO 100.
Samsung has been a leader in providing its dedicated cameras with features for Internet connectivity and image sharing, and the NX30 introduces the next generation of these capabilities. They include "Tag & Go" and "Photo Beam," which let users transfer images to NFC enabled smartphones and other devices with a tap. Other capabilities include remote viewing and control of the NX30 from a smartphone, the ability to broadcast images to up to four smart devices simultaneously, automatic transfer of images to a smartphone or tablet, and Dropbox and Flickr integration in selected regions.
Several video enhancements round out the Samsung NX30's list of features. Like most mirrorless CSC models, the camera can record Full HD video (we're confirming exact specifications) with stereo sound. Unlike many other still cameras, it also has a 3.5mm jack for an external microphone and an audio level meter that appears on the display. Even better, audio input levels can be manually adjusted. The NX30 can also stream 1920 x 1080 30p Full HD video output through its HDMI port, letting you connect it to large-screen displays, external video recorders, and other HDMI devices.
The Samsung NX30 ships from February 2014 bundled with the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS III kit lens, at a suggested retail price of US$999.99.
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