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First Impressions: Samsung’s NX 20, 210 and 1000 Mirrorless Cameras

by Chris Gampat on 05/19/2012

The other day, News Editor Felix Esser and I joined Samsung at Citi Field (a baseball stadium here in NY) to try out their latest refreshes to their NX series of cameras. The NX series is Samsung’s mirrorless interchangeable lens camera system, and all the specs you care about can be seen here.

Despite a couple of pre-production unit quirks, we were actually quite impressed with the overall performance.

The Major Feature? Wireless Image Transmission

Here’s a quick video demo of the wireless transmission functionality and the remote viewfinder feature.

To be very fair, Felix spent perhaps a good 45 mins trying to get the cameras to work with his iPad; even going so far as to having me help by tethering my phone for a more stable WiFi connection. He did indeed get it to work for a bit; and by a bit I mean perhaps around three minutes. Unfortunately, we were only able to achieve major degrees of success with Samsung’s own Android products.

That’s not bad for Android users though; it’s about time someone starts caring more about us.

On the other hand, Tim Cook is my overlord.

NX20

The Samsung NX20 looks extremely reminiscent of their previous versions with seemingly not many ergonomical changes. The body in fact feels a bit like an Olympus OMD EM5.

The top of the camera features quite a bit of interesting features. For starters, the top left of the camera contains almost no buttons sans a pop-up flash button. The right is where all the business happens. Here is where a user will find the on/off switch with the shutter release. Behind that will be the shutter dial that doubles as a zoom in function during playback. Behind that is a metering button and a function button that is programmable. To the left of the camera is a control dial. This is also how you’ll be able to get to the menu to upload images to the web.

The back of the camera us for the most part, very uncluttered. It features a control dial that can control things like your aperture if you haven’t programmed that to the i-function on the lens. The dial also features buttons for various controls. The rest are all a menu, playback, trash, custom function, auto exposure lock and exposure button.

The LCD screen flips out and about like a Canon Rebel. Interestingly enough, it isn’t a touchscreen. In practice, that would’ve worked out much better.

The camera itself is actually quite large. Here it is in comparison to the Sony NEX 7.

Autofocus

The focusing on the camera was actually quite good. We were able to dial in the size of the focusing reticule and really liked that for far away subjects and more critical focusing as well. It was often also quite speed with their prime lenses but we didn’t find the same experience with their zooms.

We also found lag sometimes with the viewfinder, but we’re going to consider that a problem with the pre-production units.

Sample Images

The majority of these photos were shot with Samsung’s 85mm f1.4, which I’m absolutely addicted to.

JPEG straight from the camera

Converted to black and white

High ISO Abilities

All images were shot with the NX20 and 85mm f1.4. The camera was set to aperture priority when conducting this very informal test. The images are from RAW files converted to JPEGs with no editing to the images otherwise.

ISO 1600

ISO 3200

ISO 6400

ISO 12,800

As you can see, even 12,800 isn’t too terrible and can be easily edited to achieve excellent results.

NX210

Samsung’s NX20 is quite the small camera, and we don’t exactly think that it was designed for use with their big lenses. Instead, it may best be suited with the nice line of compact prime pancake lenses.

The top of the camera is quite simple: on/off button around the shutter release, shutter dial, and mode dial. There is no pop-up flash at all.

The back features a one-touch video recording button, a dial for controls, different functions, a custom function button, and the rest of the obvious.

This camera actually seems to be aimed squarely at the NEX 5n, though I didn’t have it on me, here it is next to the NEX 7 for size comparison purposes.

Felix and I both liked the grip on it.

The autofocus was on par with the NX20 in our tests.

Image Samples

NX1000

The NX1000 is the smallest of the bunch and really should be used with only the most compact of lenses.

The top of the camera features all the same functions as the NX210 but also adds a WiFi button behind the shutter. The back isn’t anything majorly complicated, as is targeted toward the specific entry level crowd.

The pocketability is really nice on this camera, and I can see myself setting it to aperture priority and shooting street photography with it very leisurely. My only gripe is that it needs a nice leather half-case.

Here are two image samples

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