Samsung has struggled to capture the attention of the interchangeable lens camera-buying public in the past few years, despite the fact that many of its cameras produce excellent images. However, the NX30 could possibly the camera to change that.
I was expecting images to be good, as that sensor is now extremely proven, but I have been less impressed with the handling of other Samsung cameras. This time however, I really enjoyed using the NX30, and I found it to be highly intuitive, with the sturdy, textured grip and weighty build giving it a more professional feel than others in its range.
It's great to have a fully articulating touchscreen, and the bright display is wonderful for displaying images crisply. One small criticism here is that I found that my nose was accidentally setting the autofocus point on occasion, but after a while I learned to approach the camera in a different way so as to avoid this problem.
There's a lot of debate about electronic viewfinders, but the 2.36 million dot device here is one of the best currently available on the market, and I didn't notice any significant lag. As we have mentioned in other reviews, there are several advantages to using an EVF over an optical device, such as the ability to see the image you've just taken without having to take the camera away from your eye – that's something which really speeds up the shooting process, and is especially useful when you don't want to waste time. The fact that the viewfinder also tilts upwards is extremely handy when shooting from an awkward angle.
Going back to image quality, as mentioned I have been extremely impressed by what the camera is capable of. The kit lens is a decent all-round performer, but it's nice to see that Samsung is producing some excellent additional optics now. Although it's still true that its lens range is more limited than its Micro Four Thirds and Sony cohorts, many of the most common, or commonly requested focal lengths, are available, so there should be something to cater for most needs. During this test I used the 16mm f/2.4 lens, 60mm f/2.8 macro lens and 85mm f/1.4 lens. I am keen to get my hands on the new 16-50mm f/2.0-f/2.8 optic, which I think will probably make the ideal companion to the NX30 for enthusiast users looking for something versatile and high quality.
Happily, there are lots of things to like about this camera. Handling feels very intuitive and the textured, chunky grip make it a real pleasure to hold. Having a touchscreen and EVF which are both great make it a joy to compose and play back images. Inbuilt Wi-Fi is a nice touch, which although becoming an almost-standard feature nowadays is particularly well implemented in Samsung cameras, including the NX30.
It can be a little bit too easy to accidentally set the autofocus point using the touchscreen when you don't want to. After a while you get used to it, but it seems that the EVF sensor could do with being a tiny bit quicker so as to avoid this problem altogether. I'd also like to see some more customisation options available for the buttons on the back of the camera.
It seems like Samsung has finally made a camera which enthusiasts can aspire to own. It's a great camera to use, and crucially, images are fantastic. The NX system is starting to become a more complete package, with a decent, if limited, range of optics currently available. The addition of new premium lenses suggests that Samsung is now actively chasing the higher end of the market, which should make things interesting for every other manufacturer – it will be intriguing to see what kind of impact it has.