Samsung NX30 Review - A Big Step in the Right Direction

Launch SRP: S$1369

Introduction, Design & Handling

Overview

Like all other camera makers, Samsung is feeling the heat of a shrinking compact digicam market. Many manufacturers see the mirrorless camera category as the light at the end of the tunnel, and Samsung is no different. Starting with the NX10 in 2010, the Korean company has been churning out a steady stream of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras for its NX series. With the exception of the NX Mini that uses a 1-inch sensor, and unlike the Micro Four Thirds camp, the NX system adopts an APS-C sensor, just like Sony's Alpha (ex-NEX) mirrorless camera system.

The NX30 we've here is Samsung's latest flagship mirrorless camera, and the direct successor to last year's NX20. While it's kept with a 20-megapixel sensor, this isn't the same one found on the NX20 (more on that later). Similarly, the screen is still 3 inches (diagonally) in size, but is now branded Super AMOLED with an S-Stripe pixel layout, versus the NX20's PenTile AMOLED display. Another obvious change this time round is the pull-out tilting XGA electronic viewfinder (EVF).

 

Design & Handling

The NX30 is both larger and heavier than the NX20 it replaces. But to our pleasant surprise, it's a much easier camera to handle, and that boils down mainly to two reasons. One, we've the redesigned grip and the thumb rest at the rear to thank. Two, at 375g, it's pretty light given its size. We found this to be a camera that you can just "pick up and go" - it fits well in the hand and lends itself well to one-handed operation. 

Like we mentioned earlier, the new Super AMOLED screen is kept at 3 inches, and it's a side-hinging, fully articulating display (up to 180 degrees side to side and 270 degrees up and down). Images look sharp on this 1.04M-dot display (effectively 720 x 480); brightness is high too, and colors really pop. This is a touch-enabled screen too, which means you can easily move the AF area or take a photo using touch. And yes, it's very responsive.

For us, the EVF is mostly reserved for when we're using the camera outdoors under bright sunlight, which makes using the main display difficult. If you're using the EVF (there's a sensor that turns the main screen off when you put your eye near it), it's also good to close the screen (i.e., the panel facing the back of the body) to protect it.

To tilt the EVF, you've to pull it away from the body first. And it tilts upwards to a maximum of 80 degrees. While we hardly used this mode during our time with the NX30, we can imagine it being useful if you've a subject in a low position (e.g., camera on tripod, flower on the ground). With 2.36 million dots (effectively a 1,024 x 768 resolution), the EVF image looks fairly sharp, if a bit smaller compared to EVFs on rival mirrorless cameras. Under low light, we also noticed some EVF lag.

In a nutshell, the NX30 is one of the most DSLR-like mirrorless camera we've come across to date. If you're used to a DSLR's size, the deep grip, the standard fare of PASM shooting modes, the twin dials for adjusting shutter speed and aperture in manual mode, the depth-of-field button, you'll like the NX30.

If we're allowed to nitpick, it will be that no external battery charger is included. In other words, you've to charge the battery with it in the camera. If you're coming from the NX20, since both cameras use the same battery, you can use your NX20's battery charger.

 

Wi-Fi & NFC Support

The NX30 is endowed with wireless connectivity options, such as Wi-Fi and NFC. Tapping an NFC-enabled smartphone or tablet to the left side of the NX30 pairs the devices and initiates a Tag & Go session that comprises of several usage modes. For example, Photo Beam enables you to transfer an image or video when the two devices are placed back-to-back; MobileLink is for sending multiple images to four different smart devices at one time (and over a longer distance); AutoShare sends photos to the connected device the moment they're captured; and Remote Viewfinder Pro lets you control the camera from a smartphone. Enabled the same way as AutoShare and MobileLink (i.e., through the Android or iOS version of the new Samsung Smart Camera App), you can see the scene in real time on your smartphone's display, and adjust camera settings, including shutter speed and aperture.

Dropbox is also pre-loaded on the NX30, thus allowing you to do direct camera-to-Dropbox uploading. It's also possible to upload images directly to Flickr.

7.5
Performance
7.5
Design
7.5
Features
8
User-Friendliness
7.5
Value
7
The Good
Good handling
Good image quality (but not best-in-class)
Gorgeous, tlltable AMOLED display
Easy to use NFC and Wi-Fi features
Comes with Lightroom 5
The Bad
Big; build quality doesn't feel premium
Slightly small EVF image, noticeable lag
Image details are smudged at higher ISOs
Pricier that some competitors who are as good or better
External battery charger not included