One further area that the NX20 has seen significant improvement over the NX11 is with the electronic viewfinder. Whereas the NX11’s electronic viewfinder offered a perfectly useable resolution of 921k-dots, the NX2’s 1.44million-dot display produces an image that is much crisper and sharper, which in turn vastly improves the user experience when the camera is being used at eye level. The eye sensor responds quickly too, although we did find that it is slightly quicker at switching between the EVF feed and the rear monitor when pulling the camera away from your eye than when lifting the camera to your eye.
Autofocus performance is generally pretty good, with the NX20’s contrast-detect AF system able to quickly lock on to subjects in good light. When light levels fall below its unassisted abilities then a bright greem AF-Assist light can be called upon to light up nearby subjects with, although when using it during testing we found that we occasionally had to half-press the shutter button twice for the camera to fully lock on. Our main gripe with AF operation is the inability to position the AF point to the far corners of the frame – something that we know can be done and is a feat that Panasonic first accomplished on the GX1.
Wi-fi connectivity is where the NX20 really scores well. The whole process of connecting and then either sending or sharing your images is rendered very simple and intuitive. Simply turn the mode dial to Wi-Fi and, so long as there is a network within range, follow the on-screen prompts. Of course, having to use the D-pad to input your details isn’t the most convenient, but thankfully the camera is able to remember your details so that when you return to a password-protected network (or social media site) that you’ve already logged on to you can simply call up your stored details via a drop-down menu.
Once connected you’ll have the option to upload your images directly to sites such as Facebook, Picasa, YouTube and Photobucket. Upload speeds will, of course, vary depending on the broadband speed of the Wi-Fi network you’re connected to, but if you have the speed then you’ll be able to upload images to sites such as Facebook within seconds.
Of course, social networking sites aren’t the only application for the built-in Wi-Fi and you can also use it to email your images directly from the camera, or to send them to your home computer or a cloud-based storage service. One further Wi-Fi feature of note is the ability to use your smartphone as a remote shutter release for the NX20. You’ll need to install the remote viewfinder application from the Android market first, although thankfully it’s free.
The NX20 continues the trend for Samsung compact system cameras to deliver very good overall image quality. Metering is consistently spot-on, producing balanced exposures, even when faced with the kind of tricky, high-contrast light that can all-too-easily fool many otherwise competent metering systems. Of course if you are able to shoot in Raw then you will have far more leeway to recover clipped highlights or to bring out underexposed shadow detail.
Colour and tone are both very good, with the NX20 consistently able to deliver lifelike images that deliver plenty of punch. If you prefer not to have to post-process your images yourself then the NX20 can be relied upon for consistency. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a camera with lots of digital filters that can be used to add something to your images then it has to be said that the NX20 lags a little behind many of its rivals and while it does have a total of nine Picture Wizard effects (including ‘Landscape’, ‘Forest’ and ‘Retro’) you won’t find any of the ‘Selective colour’ or ‘Miniature’ effects that are so popular elsewhere.
As might be expected the NX20’s 20.3MP CMOS sensor is able to resolve plenty of fine detail while image sharpness is also very good. Noise is handled at the low to mid sensitivity settings of ISO 100 to 800, but does make itself known above this, especially when images are enlarged or viewed at 100%. Thankfully, there’s no shift in colour up to ISO 3200, although at ISO 6400 and 12800 images do show a slight magenta cast.
The Samsung NX20 is the first compact system camera to offer built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, but that’s far from the only reason to consider it. Its EVF is a vast improvement over Samsung’s previous efforts, the vari-angle LCD monitor is immensely useful, and overall image quality is excellent. On the downside, autofocus performance could be better in low-light and we’d also like to be able to position the AF point in the corners of the frame. At £899 with the 18-55mm kit zoom the NX20 is also one of the most expensive CSCs available, more so than many mid-range DSLRs even. As such, you could easily make a decent saving opting for an entry-level SLR, and lose nothing in performance. But, if you’re dead set on something smaller then the NX20 is worth waiting for – a couple of months and its street price should hopefully be more competitive.