Samsung NX30 Improves Auto-Focus, Ergonomics And More

Samsung-NX30_003[CES 2014] Samsung has officially unveiled its NX30 Smart Camera, its new high-end, non-Android Smart Camera. It is the successor of the NX300 that we played with in January of last year, before giving it a full review in October. The specifications of the Samsung NX30 look very good: APS-C sensor with 20.3 Megapixel, up to 25600 ISO and burst shooting of 9 frames per second.

The auto-focus (AF) system is what has attracted my attention: with 123 Phase-Detect sensors and 237 Contrast-based sensors integrated in the main image sensor, the AF system looks terrific on paper and should be able to nicely compete with mid-range DSLR cameras. It should also outperform a whole lot of mirror-less cameras that have less sophisticated AF systems. This is a big deal because the focus speed has always been a traditional weak point of mirror less systems. Now that phase detection is built into the main image sensor, this problem should in theory go away. We can’t wait to try this in the field.

The industrial design of the NX30 also shows some major ergonomics improvements and options. For instance, the new AMOLED display is now articulated, which allows the photographer to take photos and videos at odd angles (low on the ground or above the crowd) in a comfortable way. This is extremely handy in many situations that we bump into daily.


In addition to the articulated display, the Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) itself can be adjusted to accommodate more comfortable positions (it tilts by 80 degrees), like shooting photos or videos from chest-level. I have never seen this on this kind of cameras. Even if it is brighter than its predecessor, the AMOLED display can be difficult to use in very bright environments, so the presence of an integrated EVF is more than welcome, and the adjustable option is really a very sweet cherry on the cake.


In terms of video recording, the NX30 camera captures 1080/60p video, but unlike the NX300, it seems to have both optical and digital image stabilization built-in. I have yet to confirm this with the Samsung DI team, but this is what the announcement suggests. In any case, the Digital stabilization system is in the camera for sure, and overall, stabilization is crucial to everyday use. Professional videographers are used to film in a way (and with equipment) that avoid jerking the camera, but most casual movies shot handheld will need some level of stabilization to look natural. There is also a 3.5mm audio input in case you want to use your own microphone.


Samsung introduces two new lenses along with this camera: a 16-50mm f2.0-2.8 with optical image stabilization (OIS), and a 16-50mm power zoom f3.5-5.6 with IOS as well. The former is very interesting because it allows low-light photography and should produce nicely blurred backgrounds. The latter has a “power zoom” (electric motor controlling the lens zoom), and this makes it possible to remote-control the zoom with a smartphone. Also, when shooting videos, the electric motor produces a more consistent zoom speed.

At the moment, Samsung has not revealed any pricing for availability information, but this is certainly a camera that we will keep our eyes on. It’s nice to see that beyond “Megapixel”, the level of ergonomics and practical functionality is also the object of an intense arms race. Now, other camera manufacturers will have to follow, or suffer the consequences.

Specifications highlights

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