Samsung NX30 Review - A Big Step in the Right Direction

Launch SRP: S$1369

Performance & Conclusion

Imaging Performance

The NX30 features the same Samsung-designed 20.3-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor (with on-chip phase-detection AF pixels) and Hybrid AF system (with 105 phase detection points and 247 contrast detection points) as the compact NX300, as well as a DRIMeIV image processor that hosts a single-core, 800MHz Cortex-A9 processor and a SGX540 GPU. While this pales in comparison to the multi-core/multi-GHz processors we see in mobile devices these days, it's more than sufficient for a camera. The NX30 has a top shutter speed of 1/8000 second and a 9fps continuous shooting mode for full-res JPEG and RAW files.

The NX30 is a capable video camera too. It supports 1080p recording at 25 or 50fps (for PAL; up to 60fps for NTSC), a standard 3.5mm microphone input for high quality audio capture, and an on-screen Audio Level Meter for monitoring the input levels status. There's even support for a live full HD (30p) output over HDMI. In general, video footage looks smooth and full of details, with the occasional artifacts due to compression.

For the most part, autofocus is fast and nippy. And remember, you can always tap the screen to switch AF points, which is very handy when you’re holding the camera at awkward angles. And thanks to its APS-C sensor, the NX30 turns in still images with good detail, though it has the tendency to boost magenta tones slightly. We recommend staying below ISO 1,600 for this camera (which tops out at ISO 25,600), as it seems to be a bit aggressive in the way it handles noise, leading to smudging of details from ISO 3,200 onwards. As always, we suggest shooting in RAW format if you don't mind the file size penalty and can afford the time to process the files. And why not, since a copy of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 is included in the box.

Below are sample photographs shot with the Samsung NX30. The photos have not been post-processed and are copyright to SPH Magazines. They are provided for your reference only and we ask that you do not reproduce them elsewhere. Click for the full-resolution images.

 

Conclusion

If you're coming from a DSLR, or if DSLR-like handling appeals to you, you'll enjoy using the Samsung NX30. Despite its big size, it's not too heavy, which can be both a good and bad thing. On one hand, it won't tire your arm as fast; on the other, the light weight creates the impression that you're being shortchanged. To us though, the NX30 feels well-balanced and comfortable to hold. We didn’t have the more expensive 16-50mm F2-2.8 ED OIS for testing, but the kit lens (the 16-50mm F3.5-5.6mm Power Zoom ED OIS) was a decent performer in terms of focusing speed and resolution.

Besides the good handling, we also like the NX30's beautiful AMOLED touch display. It responds to touch well, and the swivel capability is immensely useful when we wanted to pull off that over-shoulder or waist-level shot. The EVF is above average however, and it's hard to ignore the relatively smaller viewfinder image and the lag, especially under low light.

For the most part, image quality is good, but not spectacular. We like the accurate metering and exposure (AF with the kit lens is okay), but not so much of the smudged details in JPEGs at high ISOs. Shoot at RAW however, its ISO 6,400 images are actually quite useable.

At S$1,369, the NX30 does seem a bit pricey compared to the Olympus OMD E-M10, which retails for S$1,248, and the Sony Alpha 6000, which is going for S$1,099. Sure, the OMD E-M10 is a Micro Four Thirds camera with a smaller sensor, but the difference (while there) isn't night and day. The Alpha 6000 on the other hand, sports speedier AF, a faster burst mode (11fps), higher resolution (24MP APS-C), and is more pocket/bag-friendly. Of course, one could point out that the NX30 comes with Lightroom 5, and NFC/Wi-Fi support (which worked quite well, actually), but these could also be the exact reasons why it's priced higher.

Make no mistake though, the NX30 is a good camera; it just has many strong competitors. After spending some quality time with it, we're actually very surprised (in a good way) how much better it's compared to the NX20. If you've already invested in the NX system, the future looks bright.

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