Samsung NX20 Review: Great Photos, But Is It Worth The Money?

Over the last couple of years, Samsung's compact, semi-pro cameras have started getting really good, turning out great photos. But the range has been hindered by annoying little details that make you go ARRRRGH!

The Samsung NX20 packs the same burly sensor as last year's NX200, and it adds Wi-Fi to feed your internet addiction. Is the NX20 a camera you'll want to buy?

What Is It?

The NX20 is a $1099 mirrorless, interchangeable-lens camera with a digital viewfinder, a DSLR-sized APS-C sensor and Wi-Fi features.

Who's it For?

The enthusiast photographer who wants DSLR performance in a (slightly) smaller, lighter package.

Design

The NX20 has a larger body than other mirrorless cameras, and its sturdy build and slew of buttons feel more like a DSLR. It has a pop-out LCD, a pop-up flash and an electronic viewfinder.

Using It

For such a small camera, ample buttons make adjusting settings a breeze. No more menus. As with the Samsung NX200, the slow autofocus is a drag. On the upside, the camera can shoot continuously, very fast, and the photo quality is excellent.

The Best Part

It handles like a larger, more expensive camera -- most of the time.

Tragic Flaw

Buggy firmware that makes the camera unreliable.

This Is Weird...

Wi-Fi is nice, but the ability to quickly post to Facebook feels like a throwaway feature on a high-quality camera like this one.

Test Notes

The camera was used regularly for several weeks in both automatic and manual modes. This camera's performance is spectacular until it unexpectedly flips out on you. Even after upgrading the firmware, problems cropped up. It's something different every time. One time the electronic viewfinder didn't shut down when the camera turned off. If you didn't notice, you'd drain the battery to death. Another time, the camera, in the words of Samsung PR, "flipped a pixel", causing the photo to come out with kaleidoscopic colours. Not the desired effect (even if it looked cool). Yet another time, the camera's flip-out LCD stopped displaying the image when adjusted at certain angles. When the camera's not screwing up, it takes sharp, beautiful photos in most reasonable conditions. As electronic viewfinders go, the one on the NX20 looks pretty darn good. It's even better than the viewfinder on Sony's excellent NEX cameras. The LCD is beautiful and useful. The camera's fantastic pop-up dashboard interface shows you all of your shooting settings and allows you to quickly make adjustments. Very nice design. Photographers love buttons and hate menus. Good job, Samsung. The NX20's larger body and beefy price tag could almost make it a small DSLR. Except that a DSLR would have a real autofocus sensor. If the camera's going to be this big and expensive, it would be better to have a mirror and improved performance. As with all new Samsung cameras, the NX20 can connect to the internet, social networks, computers and smartphones via Wi-Fi. Why, Wi-Fi, why? Sure, smartphones can post photos to the internet instantaneously, but that's not what people want from a high-quality, semi-pro camera like the NX20. The camera competently shoots 1080p video, but it's nothing special.

Should You Buy It?

It hurts to say it, because this camera is so good much of the time, but the NX20 is not good enough to cost $1099. It's too big to be compact, and it's too expensive to have these problems. The photos are lovely, and the design is excellent, but unfortunately the buggy firmware and sluggish autofocus makes the camera feel unpolished. Wait for our review of Canon's EOS 650D before you make a purchase at this price -- or consider saving a bit of money with the Panasonic Lumix GX1.

Samsung NX20

• Price: $1099 RRP in Australia w/18-55mm lens • Sensor: 20.3-megapixel, APS-C • Max ISO: 12,800 (standard) • Image: 5472 x 3648 • Video: 1920 x 1080 at 30fps • Screen: 614,000 dot, 3-inch LCD • Weight: 341g w/o battery

Samsung NX20 Sample Photos

Samsung NX20 Gallery

Additional photography and editing: Nick Stango

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