Samsung NX30 review

If you’re spending £900 on a camera and want something that looks and handles like a proper DSLR, yet aren’t overly keen on a weighty device, then investigate Samsung’s relatively lightweight NX30.

Technically it’s a mirror-less compact system camera (CSC), going up against Panasonic’s GH4, the Olympus OM-D range and the new Fuji XT-1, all also possessing DSLR-like looks. Handling wise, this 20.3 megapixel camera with its APS-C sensor offers the convenience of a point-and-shoot via its simple backplate buttons and smartphone-like touchscreen display; but at the same time there’s enough complexity offered by its manual top plate dials and customisable settings to not put off anyone ‘downsizing’ from an actual SLR.

The handgrip is large and comfortable too, a feature often sacrificed on smaller CSC models. Whilst benefitting from this best of both worlds approach, naturally it’s also packed with the latest features, including Wi-Fi connectivity and NFC compatibility.

The camera is also easy when it comes to framing and reviewing stills and, here, full-HD video too. For framing shots there’s a choice of large 3-inch AMOLED display on the backplate, or a high-resolution electronic viewfinder (EVF) for those who prefer shooting with the camera held up to the eye.

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The rear display offers deeper blacks and better contrast than traditional LCD, and can be angled and tilted whe required. The EVF meanwhile has a built-in eye sensor that switches it on whilst deactivating the larger screen below. In a first for this model, it can be pulled outwards from the body and tilted upwards so photographers can look down into it; useful if shooting with the camera held low to the ground. We found ourselves mainly plumping for the larger 3-inch display, bigger often being better when it comes to view screens.

Exposures were spot on when left on auto settings, and colours were well saturated, with detail maintained into the corners of the frame. Shots looked simply stunning on the rear screen – so much so that they slightly pale in comparison when viewed on a regular monitor.

As well as being able to control this camera via touch screen and physical buttons, the bundled 18-55 mm iFunction lens allows key camera functions to be operated with a twist of its barrel.

This feels like a handy if by no means essential extra, as there are enough physical and virtual controls already at our fingertips to make for easy and intuitive handling, with commonly used settings like ISO given their own dedicated access points.

It doesn’t feel like Samsung has re-invented the wheel here, but it has produced a very competent feature-packed alternative to its chief competitors.

OUR VERDICT

Think that DSLRa are too bulky but like the design and handling? In going head to head with the likes of Panasonic’s GH4, Olympus’s OM-D, and Fuji’s X-T1, this Samsung NX30 is more affordable than its rivals. And if wireless connectivity is important, it’s a slightly more flexible solution too. With its mix of snapshot and DSLR-type controls, this is a device that is easy to get to grips with and which will deliver great-looking shots with plenty of colour and contrast straight out of the camera. You just need to get over the snob factor that it’s not a Canon or Nikon equivalent. Whilst there is nothing here really that competitors don’t already offer in some shape or form, the NX30 is an exercise in box ticking in so far as it includes nearly all the best bits of others, such as eye-level viewfinder and tilting touchscreen. Add Wi-Fi and NFC and you have a compelling package for what, when you compare it to the flagship models from rival brands, is actually being sold at a pretty reasonable price.

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