While still only really a few years old, competition within the compact system camera market has already grown pretty fierce. As a result manufacturers have had to work ever harder to stay ahead of the competition and capture the imagination of consumers. One of the main ways they have done so is by introducing new and exciting features to their CSC ranges. Samsung has been very much at the forefront of this approach, and the Samsung NX20 is a primary example - it's the first CSC to include Wi-FI.
This built-in connectivity allows you to connect your digital camera directly to a wireless network without the need for a computer or any leads. Once connected you can choose to upload your images to a number of social media sites (including Facebook), email them directly to friends or family, and even back them up to a cloud-based storage service. Camera manufacturers have been rather slow to incorporate Wi-Fi connectivity into cameras and while Canon and Nikon offer optional Wi-Fi accessories for their latest DSLRs, the NX20 remains the only camera within its class to offer it as a built-in feature. But how popular will it be and is it enough to elevate the NX20 above the competition? Let’s take a closer look and find out.
The NX20 takes over from the 18-month-old NX11 as the DSLR-like model within Samsung's expanding range of compact system cameras. At its heart it employs the same 20.3MP APS-C CMOS sensor that was found inside last year's NX200, and which represents a fairly sizeable jump in resolution from the 14.6MP sensor of the NX11. Incidentally, Samsung has also fitted the same sensor inside the NX1000 and NX210 models that were launched alongside the NX20.
An increase in resolution isn't the only upgrade the NX20 enjoys over the NX11 though. Sensitivity has been increased to ISO 100-12800 – two stops higher than the ISO 100-3200 offered by its predecessor. Continuous shooting speed has also been boosted to a highly credible 8fps (up from 3fps on the NX11), while shutter lag has been reduced to 40ms. Maximum shutter speed is also up, from 1/4000 to 1/8000sec.
Another improvement comes in the form of the 3in, 614k-dot monitor, which is now articulated for added flexibility. It's attached to the camera via a side hinge, which makes it possible to pull the screen out from the body by 180-degrees from where it can be rotated through 270-degrees to make light work of shooting from acute angles, or for easy self-portraits. The screen itself is of the AMOLED type, with no air gap between the display and protective glass enabling it to produce deeper blacks and more vivid colour as well as reducing unwanted reflections.
Should you want to use the camera at eye level then the NX20's electronic viewfinder is one of the best going, offering 100% coverage with an impressive 1.44 million-dot resolution. Thanks to the built-in eye sensor there's no need to use a button to toggle between the monitor and the EVF either; simply lift the NX20 to your eye and the EVF will switch on automatically.
The NX20 offers a good range of semi- and fully manual exposure modes including the standard quartet of Program, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority and Manual (PASM) exposure modes seen on DSLRs. These are joined by a SmartAuto scene recognition mode and 17 individual Scene modes that include a useful Panoramic mode along with a 3D mode. You'll need a 3D compatible screen to view the results on if you shoot in this mode though, as the NX20's AMOLED screen is strictly 2D.
As with other recent Samsung releases, the NX20 also offers the same i-Function 2.0 functionality that allows you to adjust a number of commonly used shooting settings using a button located on the side of the lens. Better still, the i-Function button can be customised to your own preferences, so you can use it for anything from cycling through the camera's built in Smart Filters to activating the intelligent zoom (i-Zoom).
Movie enthusiasts are well catered for with the ability to record 1080p Full HD videos at 30fps, backed up by 720p HD recording alongside VGA and QVGA standard definition options. Those looking to take a bit more creative control will be pleased to know that it's also possible to use any of the PASM exposure modes while recording video. Sound is recorded in stereo with resultant movies stored in the .MOV (H.264) format.
In terms of design the NX20 very much follows the template of the NX11 with a miniaturised DSLR design. Weighing in at 341g, it's actually about 30% lighter than the NX11 and comes with a redesigned handgrip that can accommodate four fingers for improved handling and comfort. A textured thumb rest is found on the back of the body, which aids the overall grip. Overall, those with average sized hands should find it a very comfortable camera to hold.
That said, those with larger fingers may find the NX20's relatively small buttons slightly fiddly although they are all quite well positioned and easy to reach. In addition to the i-Function button situated on the lens, there's also a basic Function (Fn) button on the back of the camera, which comes in handy when you want to quickly change image quality, ISO settings and suchlike without having the enter the main in-camera menu. Speaking of the in-camera menu, the NX20's is split into five main categories: Camera, Movie, Custom, Settings and GPS. It's all very clearly laid out and easy to read making for quick and intuitive navigation.