Samsung has packed a lot of technology into its NX20 interchangeable lens camera. Apart from a 20-megapixel APS-C sized CMOS sensor, this camera has Wi-Fi features, it supports Samsung's iFunction lenses, and it caters to both experienced photographers and beginners with its array of manual features and scene modes. The camera has pretty much all you need built in, including a flash, an electronic viewfinder (EVF) and a high-quality, hinged LCD screen. See also Group test: what's the best interchangeable lens camera?

Controls and ease of use

Physically, the NX20 is still similar to the NX10 that was first introduced two years ago, and the NX11 that we saw last year, albeit with some slight tweaks to the contours and button placements. It's a comfortable camera to hold and shoot with, though it can feel a little heavy at times. There are many interchangeable lens cameras that are more compact, but the NX20 offers a complete set of features without you having to fork over more money for an EVF or a flash. Furthermore, it has a comprehensive set of controls on its body that allow it to feel more like a digital SLR than a compact camera. There are two dedicated dials on the camera that can be used to change aperture and shutter settings when manual mode is selected, there are dedicated buttons for ISO, focusing and exposure compensation, and you also get quick access to Full HD video recording via a dedicated record button that works in most modes. Visit Canon EOS 600D.

Not only are there physical buttons for adjusting features, there is also a quick menu that pops up on the LCD screen when the Fn button on the back of the camera is pressed. This allows you to see all relevant camera features at a glance, and change any of them simply by navigating through them using the five-way thumb control on the rear. It's an effective way of reviewing all features, as well as accessing features that don't have direct buttons, such as white balance. And if you still want another way to do things, you can use an i-Function lens (the kit lens that we used is such a lens), which allows you to press the iFn button on the lens to cycle through settings (shutter, aperture, ISO and white balance can all be accessed through this single button) and change values by rotating the focus ring. This method is best for when you are using the electronic viewfinder to frame your shots rather than the screen and you want to change things such as white balance and ISO without taking your eye away from the scene. See also Sony NEX-7 review.

The multiple ways in which things can be changed on the NX20 does make it a little hard to grasp at first — there are so many things to tinker with. It takes a good few days to fully get the hang of this camera and how to use it most efficiently. If you don't want to use any of the manual features right away, there is a competent Smart Auto mode that produces decent results, and there are also scene modes and different art modes that can be fun to play with.

Performance

We found the overall performance of the camera, using the supplied 18-55mm lens, to be quite good. Pictures from this camera are exceptionally clear at the pixel level, and because the sensor has 20 megapixels to work with, you can crop images closely without losing too much detail. This can be useful when using a short lens such as the 18-55mm and you want to bring out a distant or small object in your shot — of course, you'll have to make sure that what you shot was in focus first. Colours came out rich and images had lots of contrast by default. The 18-55mm lens isn't a great one though; we found its sharpness to be a little off at the edges, and there was noticeable distortion along straight lines when using the widest angle.

The 18-55mm lens is wide and allows you to fit a lot into one frame, be it buildings...

The 18-55mm lens is wide and allows you to fit a lot into one frame, be it buildings...

Or old computers sitting at fancy dining tables.

Or old computers sitting at fancy dining tables.

However, the distortion from the wide angle can be displeasing, especially when buildings start to lean or when square objects, in general, start to look curved.

However, the distortion from the wide angle can be displeasing, especially when buildings start to lean or when square objects, in general, start to look curved.

An example of the NX20's ability to capture vibrant colours.

An example of the NX20's ability to capture vibrant colours.

Here we played with the exposure compensation to darken the area around the bright part of the image.

Here we played with the exposure compensation to darken the area around the bright part of the image.

With a shallow depth of field, the lens can give a nice, blurred background pattern.

With a shallow depth of field, the lens can give a nice, blurred background pattern.

This is a 100 per cent crop of the above image. The level of detail and clarity is excellent. We also didn't notice any problems with chromatic aberration.

This is a 100 per cent crop of the above image. The level of detail and clarity is excellent. We also didn't notice any problems with chromatic aberration.

The camera didn't always capture overcast scenes as we intended when using auto or semi-manual modes — it often made them look brighter than they did in real life. We had to play with the exposure compensation here, too.

The camera didn't always capture overcast scenes as we intended when using auto or semi-manual modes — it often made them look brighter than they did in real life. We had to play with the exposure compensation here, too.

High ISO performance turned out to be exceptional. Definition at the pixel level only started to get a little messy at ISO 1600.

High ISO performance turned out to be exceptional. Definition at the pixel level only started to get a little messy at ISO 1600.


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