Shooting Experience

By Jeff Keller

The thought that popped into my mind when I first got my hands on the Samsung NX30 was "wow, it's really light". I figured that the body must be plastic, but that's not the case - it's mostly metal. And while there are some cheap plastic parts - such as the drive switch and control wheels - overall, the camera feels pretty comfortable in my hands. Speaking of controls, the buttons and dials on the back of the NX30 are too cramped for my large fingers.

While I'm personally not a fan of the pull-out, flip-up EVF on the NX30 (or Panasonic GX7 for that matter), some will find it very useful.

The feature that's been getting the most attention on the NX30 is its electronic viewfinder, which can be pulled away from the back up of the camera and tilted upward by 90 degrees. I wasn't a big fan of this feature on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7, and my opinion remains unchanged. I just don't feel the need to look down into the EVF when I have the much larger OLED display that I can use for the same purpose. That said, as with the GX7, some folks will find it incredibly useful.

Quality wise, the OLED display - which has a resolution of 720 x 480 - is impressive. It's bright, usable outdoors, and has vivid color. The XGA EVF is high resolution, but I find it a bit too washed out for my tastes.

The NX30 impresses me with its vivid colors and sharp images. Our particular copy of the 18-55mm kit lens appears to be decentered, and we'll be requesting another one for further testing. ISO 100, 1/250 sec, f/6.3, 27mm equiv

It didn't take a lot of work figuring out how to operate the NX30. The controls and menus are straightforward, though the latter feel a bit sluggish at times. You can operate the camera via the touchscreen or traditional controls. In addition to the main menu, the NX30 also offers a shortcut menu, though I wish you could choose what options appear on it. One cool way in which you can change settings is via the i-Function button found on most Samsung lenses. Just press the button and you can rotate the focus ring to adjust the selected setting (you can press it again to switch between ISO, white balance, and exposure compensation).

I had no trouble carrying the NX30 around on this hike, since the camera is so light.

In addition, the Wi-Fi feature let me e-mail photos while I was still out and about.

ISO 100, 1/80 sec, f/3.5, 27mm equiv.

Something else that was pretty neat is an Android-style menu that can be dragged down from the top of the screen. There you can quickly adjust the brightness of the display and check on shots remaining and battery life, and see recently changed camera settings. One thing that would make this feature more compelling would be allowing the user to tap on one of those settings to adjust it.

A smartphone-like pull-down menu lets you adjust screen brightness and view remaining storage and battery life.

In case you haven't heard, the NX30 is a 'Smart Camera', which means that it has extensive Wi-Fi features. While the camera can do silly things like act as a baby monitor, I'm more interested in remote camera control and sharing photos via my smartphone - both of which work flawlessly. The NX30 can also backup photos to your smartphone as they are taken, with GPS data thrown in during the process.

The Remote Shooting part of the Samsung Camera App lets you control the camera and offers a ton of adjustable settings. My only complaint is that the live view can be a little laggy at times.

During the time I'm spending with the NX30, I've been pretty happy with how it performs. Focusing speeds are competitive with other mirrorless cameras, and out-of-focus pictures are a rarity. There's very little delay between shots, even when shooting Raw + Superfine JPEGs.

The camera is not a 'stealth shooter', as there's no electronic shutter only option, but it's not loud, either. Battery life is competitive with other mirrorless cameras, with a CIPA rating of 360 shots per charge.

You can see the effects of noise reduction on the water in the background. ISO 200, 1/500 sec, f/5.6, 24mm equiv.

The photos I took are sharp, though our particular kit lens isn't great in the corners (we're working with Samsung to get another). At times JPEGs look a bit over-processed, but I've seen worse. While I haven't taken many videos yet, their quality looks good but not great.

One thing I'm still trying to get used to is the order in which the camera presents photos in playback mode. Instead of putting the newest photos at 'the end' of the stack, the NX30 puts them first. In order words, the newest photo is 1 out of 50, rather than 50 out of 50. This will certainly take some getting used-to.