In a crowded marketplace of similarly specified mirrorless compact system cameras, it can be difficult for one manufacturer's offering to stand out from the crowd. Samsung in is an enviable position as an electronics company, because there is so much technology to draw inspiration from in its portfolio of products for the 20.3MP Samsung NX20.
For quite some time, the same AMOLED screens found in Samsung's Galaxy series of Android smartphones and tablet computers have been a unique feature of Samsung's range of NX mirrorless cameras.
With the NX20, Samsung has incorporated wireless connectivity and GPS as you may find featured in one of its smartphones. With phones and tablets sporting better cameras with each generation, how long will it be before you can check emails on your camera? Samsung stops just short of that with the NX20, but the inclusion of Wi-Fi alongside compatibility with Android devices and Windows PCs is a step towards everything becoming connected.
GPS is also included, so images can be tagged with a location. This can be especially useful when sharing images on the internet, via a service that supports geo-tagging, such as Facebook.
Samsung NX20 at a glance
23.5 x 15.7mm CMOS, 20.3MP, 1.5x focal length
3-inch swivel type AMOLED display, 614k dots
122 x 89.6 x 39.5mm/4.8 x 3.53 x 1.56 inches, 341g/0.75lbs (without batteries and memory card)
With a price tag of £900 in the UK and $1,100 in the US, the Samsung NX20 is aimed at advanced users who don't mind spending a little extra money for more exposure control and additional features such as the SVGA electronic viewfinder, articulated 3-inch AMOLED screen and a large APS-C size 20.3 megapixel CMOS image sensor.
Of course, due to the mirrorless design, the camera is quite compact, relative to a DSLR, so it will suit those who wish to travel light, even if it is a little too large to be classed as pocketable.
Using a large APS-C sensor has its benefits. The surface area is much larger than would typically be found in a compact camera. Greater available surface area enables increased quality at high sensitivities, or higher resolution images, or a compromise between the two.
At 20.3 million effective pixels, the CMOS sensor found in the Samsung NX20 isn't the highest resolution APS-C sensor currently available, so it will be interesting to see if this compromise results in a gain in quality when shooting at high ISOs.
A reasonable selection of Samsung NX lenses are available, including zooms covering moderate wide angle to telephoto focal lengths and a variety of compact pancake-type prime lenses. Advanced users may find the lack of ultra-wide angle, super-telephoto and lenses with a maximum aperture faster than f/2.8 a little limiting.
Also, there are currently very few third-party lens options available, with established manufacturers such as Sigma and Tamron concentrating on Micro Four Thirds and Sony NEX formats for now. Samsung's i-Function feature enables the focusing ring on each compatible lens to be used to control the camera.
A button found on the lens can be customised to give access to a range of adjustments, including aperture, shutter speed, ISO sensitivity and exposure compensation.
Video clips up to 25 minutes long can be recorded at 1080 high definition resolution and frame rates of up to 30 frames per second. Videographers may be a little dismayed to find there is no facility to attach a standard 3.5mm or XLR microphone to the Samsung NX20, for better sound recording quality.
However, Samsung is releasing a proprietary external microphone called the EM10, which attaches and is powered via the hotshoe. The EM10 microphone is unique, since the A/D converter is built into the microphone itself and has a standard 3.5mm headphone jack for monitoring sound levels while recording, and zoom and wide settings for altering what sound is captured.