NX30 Samsung's Serious Challenger for Nikon, Canon in APSC models
Samsung Corp Media
In the World of Digital cameras the it really does not matter in the end if your a DSLR or Mirrorless "Fan".
It's all about the sensor, software and lens that delivers the maximum quality for capture and processing.
2014 has been the year of the "mirror-less" camera snipers making victims of the big DSLR models and the heavy weights of the camera industry. But inside this battle of "David's & Goliath's". We see that it is the APSC cameras where much of the serious battles are being fought. A new wave of better models from NIKON, CANON, FUJI, SONY and PENTAX. Some are DSLR and some are mirror-less platforms. All of these models are squarely in the 20mega Pixel market segment. Sony & Nikon are 24 megapixel sensors, and CANON & the new Pentax K-S1 are both at 20 megapixels. So in theory the 24 megapixel sensor should have a real advantage..but not so.
So into this heavy weight war for consumers and prosumers dollars, steps Samsung with the NX30. This is a 20 megapixel effective sensor. The Canon EOS 7D Mk2 and the Pentax K-S1 are the two newest cameras in the APSC power struggle. The Samsung and Pentax has the best value in the APSC market today.
Both the Samsung NX30 and Pentax K-S1 come with a excellent kit lens standard for a retail price point of $799 in the US market. The Samsung is the only APSC NX30 camera where the kit lens is standard. The Pentax, Nikon, Fuji, Sony and Canon all can be purchased as body only. However the price points for these APSC camera bodies range from $749 for the new Pentax K-S1 to a high of $1799 for the new Canon EOS 7D Mk2. The Sony body is $1199, Fuji X-T1 is $1299, Nikon D7100 is $1199.
So in the current economy, consumers are very tight with their money. Price matters more now than ever.
So if your looking for a great technical features in your camera and want a great value added for your hard earned money….then you have two serious choices. The Pentax K-S1 in the DSLR ( APSC ) or the Samsung NX30 for the mirror-less camera segment. The greater question is why?
Samsung's NX30 is really the first step towards it's long term goals as becoming a imaging powerhouse on several levels. But for now lets look at direct comparison between Nikon, Canon, Sony and Fuji
For started the most important aspect of the operation of a modern camera is the actual process of focusing detection. The Samsung NX 30 has both Phase Detection and Contrast Detection just like the FUJI X-T1, Nikon D7100, ( just released) Canon 7D Mk2, Sony SLT-A77Mk2 and Pentax K-S1.
Samsung is a heavyweight in the smart phone market, as we all know well so the Samsung NX30 has all of the connectivity you heart could ever dream about. Also taking advantage of aspects that allow Samsung some major advantages over Nikon, Canon, Pentax and Fuji.
The NX30 comes loaded with tons of special features for streamlining shooting video as well. Again Samsung has packed into the NX30 operating software system image parameters that only found on one other brand. That would be the Sony A77 Mk2. The Samsung however has special color parameters not found on the Sony and none of these special image parameters are found on any of the other APSC camera models of NIKON, CANON, PENTAX or FUJI.
Samsung and Sony are the only brands that offer special JPEG quality levels. Samsung offers, Superfine, Fine as well as normal. While All of the other brands in the APSC market offer either…small, medium, large. Or a Fine & normal JPEG. The issue here is the ability to again offer chosen levels of JPEG quality before shooting rather than just a file size. Samsung's NX30 needless to say offers Raw files and also the combined RAW & JPEG simultaneously like NIKON, SONY, CANON, FUJI and PENTAX.
Major Design Features NX30
20.3 megapixel CMOS sensor , on-chip phase detection AF
Hybrid AF system / features 105 phase-detect points, also 247 contrast points
DRIMeIV image processor
XGA electronic viewfinder swings away from the camera, max tilt upward 80 degrees
Updated fully-articulating 3-inch Super AMOLED display "touch screen"
More customizable buttons, plus dedicated drive mode dial
9 fps burst mode
1080/60p video recording with 'dual IS', mic input, new audio level adjustments
HDMI output at 30 fps, uncompressed
Wi-Fi with NFC
'Smart Camera 3.0' features include better remote shooting, 'Group Share', baby monitor mode
Includes Adobe Lightroom 5
NX30 Bridge to the Future of Samsung
The NX30 is really the first "bridge" platform that allows prosumers and serious ametures to have a top end camera body that produces top quality still and video. The NX30 0has a very high quality EVF 1.228 million pixels. Which is only slightly less than the 1.229 million pixels of the SONY A77 MK2. Now that translates into a viewfinder resolution of 2.359 million for the SonyA77 Mk2, Samsung NX30 and 2.36 million for the Fuji X-T1. The Nikon, Pentax and Canon are DSLR's and traditional direct visual viewing.
Sensor Cleaning: NX30 has a built-in dust-removal system that vibrates the sensor 60,000 times per second to remove any unwanted dirt or lint in your images files.
One of the big advantages of modern digital image software is the ability to create "scene modes". This concept advantage allows the camera firmware and image software to handle all of the very diverse extreme demands of lighting, color, contrast, facial recognition. Only the Samsung NX30, Pentax, Sony and Nikon have this modern age creative advantage. The NX30 also has additional scene modes. My favorite is the "multi face" mode.
Multi-Face scene mode allows you to take a group photo many people…then shoot several images , then pick the best face shot of each person, then save the "best" shot file. As if you got the perfect shot on the first exposure. Wow, think all the years people have spent trying to get the perfect family shot….now it's a no brainer!
This camera really is in some ways reaching out to a forgotten market sector of the consumer market.
NX30 is the new age "Family Camera"….you remember the old days when Kodak was marketing both it's Kodachrome film with it's own cameras that were designed to be "goof proof" and commercials showed a totally clueless family just taking pictures without a care in the world. Well the NX 30 its really targeted at any person or family that wants a high quality still camera and video camera that produces excellent exposure and auto focus system for all situations…..day or night. That is a big statement.
Yes the "Tilty-Flippy" screen on the back will make taking great "self's" but…even better the touch screen and the full auto selection features make 99% of normal shooting for family, group, sports easy. But you have the ability to capture in both RAW and Jpeg at the same time. A feature that is normally only on high priced digital cameras.
Lens 18-55mm Zoom lens F3.5-5.6
The 18-55mm zoom lens is almost a standard for the vast majority of both mirror-less and DSLR cameras that have an APSC sensor size. This gives 35mm full frame performance of a 27-80mm zoom range. That is where over 90% of all photos are shot with most cameras. So you have modest wide angle and a decent telephoto for portrait or other needs. The surprise that the quality of the Samsung kit lens is in many ways was superior to other full frame 28-80mm zoom lenses in production today by bigger name brand camera companies.
Where this showed up most was in the outer areas of the image files captured in both Jpeg and Raw. So what I found was a flatter field of focus from F5.6 to F11. Now this may not seem like a big deal on the surface but what that means to the average shooter is that you will see more fine detail resolution that is normally only found in the center of a image. So if your shooting a large scene, like a landscape or group of people you will get a constant quality of detailing that is better than on other "kit" lenses of the same focal length and F-stop class.
So for most owners of the new NX 30….the basic kit lens will more than do the job they need, an deliver a very high quality image file.
Now Samsung does make some "prime" lenses for wider angle and telephoto and with a much faster speed. This again means that with these lenses you will get a "BOKE". As well as a better smoother transition in the out of focus areas. Again have a faster lens means less depth of field and helps build better artistic impact of your subject against the background. So check out these Samsung prime lenses.
The Samsung NX30 is not a flash or gimmicky design camera body. It looks like a tiny DSLR and is only slightly larger than a conventional mirror less camera like the Sony A6000. The "Tiltty-Flippy" is a full touch screen that is super easy to operate even most conditions. The NX30's high resolution EVF is really one of the best on the market and deserves more attention as it is much smarter than some super expensive DSLR cameras.
The articulated "pull and bend" aspect of the EVF viewfinder….is really a smart idea. As in many cases it removes the need to crouch or bend to take photos. For low level or ground level perspective shooting it give you great access to all of the in camera info of the EVF. Again without laying on the ground.
I found the touch screen menu's and overall operation to be very intuitive and simple to make creative choices.
There are several excellent short cuts in the manual or direct control options. The "FN" menu is again quick to navigate, once you understand all of your system options. I do think that a second command dial would be much needed addition as the real control wheel is very small and my fingers often stumbled in making my selections.
Also I would like to see a FOCUS LOCK button next to the Exposure Lock button. As the camera was sometimes trying to jump around a grab another focus point after my original focal point had been chosen. The big camera companies like NIKON and CANON also only give you a single command dial wheel. Samsung menus are very layered but logical. Samsung does offer one of the better customization option systems. It seems clear to me that Samsung's idea for customers is to take the time to get your customized settings dialed in and then you will likely not need to fiddle with fine tuning or switching around.
The exposure system on the NX30 works extremely and is not fooled by specular highlights in day or night situations. This means that you can have great confidence in shooting in low light conditions.
The NX30 operates in "FULL AUTO" better than any of other competitive camera products in it's class for DSLR or Mirrorless models. That is to say that you can use the zoom in or out and grab your shot and not find that it missed getting your shot. The Auto focus is better than many of the upper level DSLR products. So again the better cost point compared to a Nikon D7100….is a source of joy for anyone on a budget. Focus speed of all digital cameras is big selling point and the NX30 is at the top end of it's class.
ISO is limited to 3200 and I do not find that a problem, but for some it may be a disappointment. I shot several night subjects and got excellent results. The IS system worked extremely well in all situations. The remote "viewfinder pro" app offers additional control over exposure and camera setting previous versions.
Image Quality in Still & Video
Let face it in the end what matters is the final image files. You will get excellent JPEG and RAW files as the APSC sensor is a 20 mega pixel and up against many 16 mega pixel cameras….DSLR or Mirrorless, the quality is really noticeable. So apple to apples your getting more pixels for your money.
Samsung has been the trail blazer of smartphones and connectivity and again the NX30 is able to do anything you need to upload or connect to other devices for sharing or storage. Now I found the image quality of the NX30 across most of the ISO range from 100 to 800 to be better than the D7000 and even at the high end where the noise level is always a pain. The N30 performed on par with the Nikon and Canon cameras. I the mid range offerings. Now at night and under the full auto setting, letting the NX30 choose the ISO and Shutter speeds, the image files were much better, even in the 3200 ISO range. I do think that Samsung could really improve customer satisfaction if they pushed through a firmware up grade to lower noise. I know they just did a recent upgrade but more is needed.
The NX30 is one of the best all around everyday performers for consumers who need to shoot high quality VIDEO also. The NX30 should be getting more marketing exposure for it's 1080/60p video recording with dual IS, external mic input and audio level adjustments. Also you get an uncompressed HDMI output at 30 FPS.
This video system is stereo sound and a dual image stabilized system…that is to say optical and electronic.
The Tilt -Flip screen is a big advantage here as if you mount the camera on a mono pod for high angle or overhead shooting angles that screen is a life saver.