The new Samsung NX30 is an improved reboot of the company's NX20, a mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera that took beautiful photos but came with its share of foibles as well. The new camera adds a new autofocus system, and some improved hardware. Samsung's introducing a bunch of new lenses as well. Is it enough to make Samsung's mirrorless cameras catch on?
First things first: The NX30 has what Samsung is describing as a slightly improved 20.3-megapixel, APS-C sensor. What's going to make a big difference to shooting is the new hybrid autofocus system that uses both phase-detect and contrast-detect autofocus. The NX30's predecessor was lacking on focus speed and precision, so this is a welcome improvement.
The camera's notable hardware improvements include a tiltable electronic viewfinder with 2.36-million dot resolution. There's a new mic input so that you can easily use an external microphone when recording video.
There are a number of additions to the camera that have been seen on other cameras before and aren't exactly mindblower: The NX30 shoots 1920 x 1080 videos at up to 60 frames per second. It's got NFC which will make the often clumsy process of Wi-Fi pairing with mobile devices easier.
As before, the NX30 is a nice camera, but it doesn't offer a while lot in the way of differentiation for people considering their options, especially when some of Samsung's interchangeable-lens competitors like Sony and Olympus are making outstanding shooters. Samsung hasn't announced pricing and availability for the NX30, but you can expect it to cost about $US1100 bundled with a kit lens, just like it's predecessor. That's a tough sell.
In addition to the NX30, Samsung is introducing two new lenses. The first the 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 power zoom lens will be a cheaper lens, which is ultimately destined for kits. That's pictured throughout in the section above.
Of greater interest is the 16-50mm f/2-2.8 S-series lens. You've never heard of the Samsung S-series lenses because it's a new line of higher-end, "special" lenses Samsung plans to start rolling out.
This is serious, hulking glass that Samsung hopes to use to attract serious photographers — much the way Sony has lured in many people to its mirrorless line with its partnership with Carl Zeiss. If Samsung is going to succeed in making itself a serious competitor in the mirrorless market, it's going to have to convince people to switch, and building up a sick ecosystem of lenses is a smart way to do that. We look forward to seeing what other S-series glass, and hopefully innovative cameras Sammy's got in store for us in 2014.
Samsung hasn't announced pricing and availability.