Review: Samsung NX2000

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The Samsung NX2000 is not your father’s camera. The NX2000 arrives at a time when connectivity is essential. Granted, it is not the first Samsung camera to sport built-in Wi-fi, but it is my first entry to Samsung’s photographic offerings. With a 20.3MP sensor, a 3.7″ WVGA touch screen, and a profound lack of buttons, the NX2000 packs a powerful pixelated punch in a thoroughly compact package–but it is both a hit and a miss.

 

Pros and Cons

Pros

-Built-in Wi-fi facilitates mobile workflow
-Compact design
-Sharing capability allows you to keep your bag light

Cons

-The screen isn’t the best indicator of whether or not you got the shot
-Everything is controlled via the touchscreen, which can prove frustrating for those who favor tactile control
-On sunny days, the screen isn’t bright enough

Gear Used

I used the Samsung NX2000 by itself with the standard kit lens, a 20-50mm f3.5-5.6.

Tech Specs

Courtesy of Adorama’s listing:

Lens Mount Samsung NX
Camera Format APS-C (1.5x Crop Factor)
Pixels Actual: 21.6 Megapixel
Effective: 20.3 Megapixel
Max Resolution 20MP: 5472 x 3648 at 3:2
Other Resolutions 10.1MP: 3888 x 2592 at 3:2
5.9MP: 2976 x 1984 at 3:2
5MP: 2736 x 1824 at 3:2
2MP: 1728 x 1152 at 3:2
16.9MP: 5472 x 3080 at 16:9
7.8MP: 3712 x 2088 at 16:9
4.9MP: 2944 x 1656 at 16:9
4.1MP: 2688 x 1512 at 16:9
2.1MP: 1920 x 1080 at 16:9
13.3MP: 3648 x 3648 at 1:1
7MP: 2640 x 2640 at 1:1
4MP: 2000 x 2000 at 1:1
1.1MP: 1024 x 1024 at 1:1
Sensor Type / Size CMOS, 23.5 x 15.7 mm
File Formats Still Images: JPEG, MPO, RAW
Movies: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264
Audio: AAC
Dust Reduction System Yes
Memory Card Type microSD
microSDHC
microSDXC
Image Stabilization Optical
Video Recording Yes, NTSC/PAL
Resolution 1920 x 1080: 30 fps
1920 x 810: 30 fps, 24 fps
1280 x 720: 30 fps
640 x 480: 30 fps
320 x 240: 30 fps
Aspect Ratio 4:3, 16:9
Video Clip Length Up to 29 Min 59 Sec
Audio Recording With Video, Stereo
Focus Type Auto & Manual
Focus Mode Single-servo AF (S), Continuous-servo AF (C), Manual Focus (M)
Autofocus Points Contrast Detection: 1
Contrast Detection: 21
Contrast Detection: 35
Contrast Detection: 10
Display Screen 3.7″ Rear Touchscreen LCD (1152000)
Screen Coverage 100%
Live View Yes
ISO Sensitivity Auto, 100-25600
Shutter Type: Electronic & Mechanical
Speed: 30 – 1/4000 sec in Auto Mode
Type: Electronic & Mechanical
Speed: 30 – 1/4000 sec in Manual Mode
Type: Electronic & Mechanical
Speed: 240 – 1/4000 sec in Bulb Mode
Remote Control SR2NX02 (Optional)
Metering Method Center-weighted average metering, Multi-zone metering, Spot metering
Exposure Modes Modes: Aperture Priority, Auto, Custom, Manual, Program, Shutter Priority, Smart, Wi-Fi
Metering Range: EV 0 – EV 18
Compensation: -3 EV to +3 EV (in 0.3 EV steps)
White Balance Modes Auto, Cloudy, Custom, Daylight, Flash, Fluorescent (Day White), Fluorescent (Natural White), Fluorescent (White), Manual, Tungsten
Burst Rate Up to 8 fps at 20 MP
Flash Modes 1st Curtain Sync
Auto
Auto/Red-eye Reduction
Fill-in
Fill-in/Red-eye Reduction
Off
Second-curtain Sync
Smart
Built-in Flash No
Max Sync Speed 1 / 180 sec
Flash Compensation -2 EV to +2 EV (in 0.5 EV steps)
External Flash Connection Hot Shoe
In-Camera Image Editing Backlight Compensation, Face Retouch, Photo Style Selector, Red-eye Correction, Resize Image, Rotate
Continuous Shooting Up to 8 fps
Self Timer 2 sec, 30 sec
Custom: 2-30 sec at 1 sec intervals
Connectivity HDMI D (Micro), Micro-USB, USB 2.0
Wi-Fi Capable Yes
Software Requirements Windows: XP (SP2), Vista, 7, 8
Mac: OS X 10.5 or later
Battery 1x ED-BP1130 Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery Pack, 7.6VDC, 1130mAh
Operating Temperature 32 to 104 deg.F (0 to 40 deg.C)
Humidity: 5 – 85%
Lens Focal Length 20 – 50 mm
Comparable 35mm Focal Length: 30.8 – 77 mm
Lens Aperture Maximum: f/3.5 – 5.6
Minimum: f/22
Lens Angle of View 70.2deg. – 31.4deg.
Lens Minimum Focus Distance 11.02″ (28 cm)
Lens Magnification 0.22x
Lens Groups/Elements 8/9
Lens Diaphragm Blades 7
Lens Autofocus Yes
Lens Filter Thread Front: 40.5 mm
Lens Image Stabilization No
Dimensions Camera: 4.7×2.5×1.4″ / 11.93×6.35×3.55 cm (excluding protrusions)
Kit Lens: 2.52×1.57″ / 6.40×3.98 cm
Weight Camera: 8.04 oz / 227.93 g
Kit Lens: 4.20 oz / 119.06 g

Ergonomics

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I received the all white model, and its smooth contours and nearly complete lack of buttons suggests something mildly futuristic. The white contrasted with the black front of the lens has airs of a Stormtrooper, but I doubt that parallel was on the drawing board when this camera was conceived. The NX2000 is characterized by an all plastic exterior with a sizable front bump for a grip which makes it comfortable in the hand, and the grip is textured to give it some friction. The front has only the AF assist lamp and the lens.

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Here we see two of the six buttons the camera has. There’s the shutter release and the Direct Link button, the latter of which will be your best friend when you kick your images to your phone or tablet via the camera’s built-in Wi-fi, more on that later. There is also an unlabeled dial, and the hot shoe which takes the included flash.

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Along the side of the lens there’s the iFn button, which, when pressed, will bring up the standard suite of controls one would normally find assigned to buttons and dials on most contemporary DSLRs: aperture, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, and digital zoom. This thing is a slight godsend as its the closest you’ll get to any sort of tactile control.

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The bottom sports the battery compartment, microSD slot, and the tripod thread. Yes, this camera takes micro SD cards.

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Along the right side, you’ve got the micro USB and HDMI ports.

Build Quality

The Samsung NX2000 is all plastic, but that doesn’t cheapen the feel. It is comfortable to hold, and light enough that it isn’t a bother when it’s slung around your neck for prolonged periods of time. The grip, as mentioned before, is textured to provide some extra friction, and there’s a textured thumb pad to provide extra security and comfort. It’s compact size and wireless connectivity means that you can keep travel light with just this and a device of your choice to edit your shots. With this camera in tow, I only carried my iPhone.

Autofocus

Autofocusing was spot-on for the most part, and while I usually resorted to half pressing the shutter, I found that the touch to autofocus was quick as well. It tended to hunt in low light, but with a kit lens that’s f3.5-5.6, you can’t ask for much. With regards to manual focusing, I find it always to be a pain to rely on the LCD. I prefer to look through a viewfinder when manually focusing. I do my best to trust the camera’s AF when a viewfinder isn’t an option, and the NX2000 did a fine job.

Ease of Use

For the uninitiated, the NX2000 is an incredibly easy camera to use. There are those who want everything streamlined, and Samsung has managed to facilitate that by putting nearly everything in the screen. It’s a nifty camera with a tremendous capacity to share snapshots immediately, and the traveler pressed for time will find this to be a suitable companion. Set the camera in Auto and fire away.

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This is what the screen looks like in Manual mode. On the left, what looks like the Aperture Labs symbol is the touchscreen version of the Direct Link button that sits on top. The one below it brings up your AF options: Touch, Tracking, and One Touch Shot. The one below that brings up the histogram. The Menu tab brings up your standard suite of Still, Video, and Camera settings, and the Fn tab brings up the ISO, shutter speed, aperture, and the rest. The right column of icons indicates the current suite of settings: MP, flash, etc. The other physical buttons here are the Movie, Home, and Playback which all sit below a textured thumb pad.

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When you press the iFn button on the lens, this comes up. Touch and slide on the black bar to adjust whichever setting is highlighted below. Touch and drag along the gray bar to move between settings: Aperture, Shutter Speed, and the like.

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When you tap the on-screen Direct Link or press the actual button, the camera asks you which way you want to send photos, and once you select, it activates its built-in Wi-Fi and prompts you to connect your phone or tablet to the specified connection name. Once you connect, you must open the Samsung Camera App which is available in both the App Store and Google Play Store. This is important, folks. You need that app if you are to get those images off your camera via Wi-Fi.

If you’ll indulge me for just a bit longer, I need  to discuss what the camera’s design seems to emphasize. All of what would normally be assigned to buttons has been streamlined into the NX2000’s impressively large touchscreen, and while that may be a relief for some, it can be harrowing for the more advanced user, one whose kits consists of a DSLR and several lenses. My use of the touch screen felt very stilted because there isn’t any feedback. I’m of the mindset committed buttons and clicks to muscle memory, whereas with the NX2000, I had to be totally conscious of where my finger was on the screen, and how far I was sliding it.

Shooting in manual with the NX2000 is too much of a hassle, and it feels heretical to say this, but I left it in Smart Auto most of the time, as that is what this camera seems to emphasize. The tagline on the box is “Shoot Wow! Share Now!” Take as little time as possible getting the shot, and get it to your social network of choice within minutes. Simplicity is the name of the game, and those who want total control will be frustrated by having to deal with a touchscreen. The only time I really favor a touchscreen in my photography is when I pop out my iPhone to take a quick shot. If I’m investing money in an interchangeable lens camera system, I want tactile control, and this camera doesn’t have that. To wit, this camera isn’t designed for me–but your needs and wants may be different.

What it does have is a remarkable ability to facilitate a mobile workflow. You can shoot in RAW and export in JPEG to your phone or tablet. If you don’t care to edit, you can throw it on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. as the photos go straight to your camera roll. If you care to edit, you can import them to Photoshop Express or the myriad other editing programs that are available. If you’re on assignment, but need to travel light, this camera can keep your bag light if you don’t mind editing on your phone, or tablet for that matter. With 20.3 effective MP, the NX2000 can capture a lot of information, but the point seems to be lost if you kick them to your phone in JPEG and shoot ’em straight up to your social network of choice with little attention paid to editing. I imagine those purchasing this camera won’t put a great deal of stock in editing, so this gripe loses its weight.

Metering

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The NX2000’s metering is mostly accurate according to Sunny 16 tests save for the highlights being a bit blown out, particularly in the sky details, but this is very close to what I saw beyond the camera. You can take care of this in post should you decide to.

Image Quality

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The NX2000 packs a powerful sensor with 20.3 effective MP. Shoot RAW, export to JPEG, and share. More needs to be said about the screen before I can continue with this section. While its size is impressive, the resolution feels somewhat lacking, and I found that I couldn’t trust it until I kicked the images to my phone. The images on the screen look less than favorable. Perhaps it’s something in the resolution of the screen, but the screen isn’t a completely accurate representation of what the image actually looks like. While this can be said to be true of all cameras, it is extremely telling with the NX2000. You’ll have to trust that the camera got the image, and then have that trust validated when you export it to your device of choice.

High ISO Images

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ISO 3200

This was shot at ISO 3200, and don’t you dare bring that exposure up in post. It’s noise city. Get the shot if you need it, but if you can, avoid the high ISOs. The NX2000 does better at the lower end of the ISO spectrum.

RAW File Versatility

This feels like a moot point if the point is to share the images as soon as you take them. No one is posting 20.3 MP RAW files to Facebook. Besides, Facebook won’t even display them. The images are compressed to around 2MB JPEGs which can then be quickly kicked up to whichever social network you like. 20.3 MP covers a lot of data, but it gets compressed into a tiny package.

With all this said though, we found the sensor to have not as good highlight pulling performance as some of the sensors in competing products.

Extra Image Samples

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Conclusion

The Samsung NX2000 leaves me scratching my head because I know this camera isn’t for me personally, but I can see its utility for those who love sharing their images immediately. There are many of that type out there, and while you could just push for using your phone, the NX2000 provides great power and lens options. Granted, the number of lenses available for Samsung isn’t as extensive as, say, Sony’s or Micro Four Thirds due to both first and third party support, but the fact that you can change lenses means you can different types of images.

A phone can only do so much. Besides, why kill your phone’s battery when you can dedicate all of that to a camera with greater power?

I can see what Samsung is trying to do, and I tip my hat to them. Yet, I don’t think they’re all the way there yet. If mirrorless and buttonless really is the way of the future (I hope it isn’t), I think that Samsung is making a solid effort. I just happen to be a button and optical viewfinder enthusiast.

This camera is about sharing and it executes that beautifully. Besides, my workflow of exporting it to my phone for editing isn’t the only option. You can set it up to share it straight to Facebook. Despite my grievances, the NX2000 can take great images. If you want more power than your phone can afford you, spring for the NX2000 here at Adorama.

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