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Samsung NX30 gives tilting viewfinder a whirl

In the relative quiet before CES 2014, Samsung revs its prosumer mirrorless model and launches some new kit-lens options and alternatives.

The NX30, shown here with the new 16-50mm f2-2.8 lens.

Perhaps in an attempt to avoid all the noise surrounding CES, Samsung jumps ahead of the pack with probably its two most important camera announcements, the Galaxy Camera 2 and the NX30. Given the seemingly long gap between the Samsung NX20 and its replacement, it's not surprising that it has more in common with the relatively recent NX300 than its predecessor.

Based around roughly the same sensor as the NX300 with the same DRIM IV image-processing engine and hybrid phase-detection/contrast autofocus system, the company claims the image quality and performance should be about the same as that camera, with slightly less image noise because of incremental improvements.

While Samsung's ramping up its connectivity with NFC for quick connections and stressing more app-based features like improved Flickr and Dropbox integration, and group sharing, I think the built-in tilting viewfinder is the most attractive new feature. Other improvements include dual image stabilization in video, optical and electronic; the ability to program a bunch more controls, such as up to 10 sets of custom settings that map to two slots on the mode dial; dual-band Wi-Fi for improved connectivity; and a software bundle with Lightroom 5. You should also be able to livestream 1080/30p video via HDMI, as well as output clean HDMI.

I'd love to compare it with relevant competitors, but Samsung declines to release pricing or availability info. So here are its specs with random other cameras that have EVFs:

  Fujifilm X-E2 Nikon 1 V2 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 Samsung NX20 Samsung NX30 Sony Alpha NEX-6
Sensor 16.3MP X-Trans CMOS II 14.2MP CMOS 16MP Live MOS
20.3MP CMOS 20.3MP CMOS 16.1MP Exmor HD CMOS
23.6 x 15.8mm 13.2 x 8.8mm 17.3mm x 13mm 23.5mm x 15.7mm 23.5mm x 15.7mm 23.5 x 15.6mm
Focal-length mult 1.5x 2.7x 2.0x 1.5x 1.5x 1.5x
OLPF No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
ISO range ISO 100 (exp)/200 - ISO 6400/ 25600 (exp) ISO 160 - ISO 6400 ISO 125 (exp)/200 - ISO 25600 ISO 100 - ISO 12800 ISO 100 - ISO 25600 ISO 100 - ISO 25600
Cont shooting 3fps
unlimited JPEG/8 raw
(7fps with fixed AF)
(15, 30 or 60fps with electronic shutter)
4.3fps (with tracking AF)
40fps (with electronic shutter)
9 raw/ unlimited JPEG
11 JPEG/8 raw
11 raw/15 JPEG
(10fps with fixed exposure)
2.4 million dots
100% coverage
1.44 million dots
100 percent coverage
2.76 million dots
100% coverage
480,000 dots
100% coverage
1.04x/ 0.69x
Tilting EVF
2.36 million dots
100% coverage
2.4 million dots
100% coverage
Hot shoe Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
AF 49-area contrast AF; phase-detection AF 73-point
phase detection, 135-area contrast AF
23-area contrast AF 15-point contrast AF 105-point phase detection (center cross-type); 247-area contrast AF 99-point phase detection; 25-area contrast AF
AF range n/a n/a -4 - 18 EV n/a n/a 0 - 20 EV
Shutter speed 30-1/4,000 sec.; bulb to 60 min; 1/180 x-sync 30 - 1/4,000 sec (mech), 1/16,000 (elec); bulb; 1/60 x-sync (mech), 1/250 x-sync (elec) 60-1/8,000 sec.; bulb to 2 min; 1/250 x-sync (external flash) 30 - 1/8000 sec.; bulb to 4 minutes; 1/180 x-sync 30-1/6000 sec. (mech), 1/8000 (electronic; bulb to 4 minutes; 1/8000 FP x-sync 30-1/4,000 sec.; bulb; 1/160 sec x-sync
Metering 256 zones n/a 1728 zone 221 segment n/a 1,200 zones
Metering range n/a n/a 0 - 18 EV 0 - 18 EV n/a 0 - 20 EV
Flash Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Wireless flash No Yes No No n/a No
IS Optical Optical Sensor shift Optical Optical Optical
Best video 1080/60p H.264 QuickTime MOV 1080/60i/30p H.264 QuickTime MOV AVCHD, H.264 MP4 1080/60p @ 28Mbps, 1080/24p @ 24Mbps 1080/30p H.264 MPEG-4 1080/60p H.264 MPEG-4 AVCHD 1080/60p @ 28Mbps, 1080/24p @ 24Mbps
Audio Stereo; mic input Stereo; optional mic input (with AS-N1000 adapter) Stereo Stereo Stereo, mic input Stereo; mic input
LCD size 3-inch fixed LCD
1.04 million dots
3-inch fixed LCD
920,000 dots
3-inch tilting touch screen
1.04 million dots
3-inch articulated AMOLED
921,000 dots
3-inch articulated
1.036 million dots
3-inch tilting touch screen
921,600 dots
Wi-Fi Optional
(via WU-1b Wireless Mobile Adapter)
Wi-Fi Wi-Fi Wi-Fi, NFC Wi-Fi
Battery life (CIPA rating) 350 shots 310 shots 350 shots 330 shots n/a 270 shots
(with viewfinder)
Size (inches, WHD) 5.1 x 2.9 x 1.5 4.2 x 3.2 x 1.8 4.8 x 2.8 x 2.2 4.6 x 2.5 x 1.4 5.0 x 3.8 x 2.3 4.8 x 2.8 x 1.1
Weight (ounces) 12.7 9.8 (est) 14.2 (est) 14 (est) 13.1 (est) 12.3
Mfr. price $999.95 (body only) $799.95 (body only) $999 (est, body only) n/a tbd (body only) $599.99 (body only)
$1,399.95 (with 18-55mm XF lens) $899.95 (with 10-30mm lens); $1,199.95 (with 10-100mm lens) $1,099 (with 14-42mm lens) $549.99 (with 18-55mm lens) tbd (with 18-55mm lens) $749.99 (with 15-60mm PZ lens)
n/a $1,049.95 (with 10-30mm and 30-110mm lenses) n/a n/a n/a n/a
Ship date November 2013 November 2012 September 2013 May 2012 tbd October 2012
Samsung kicks off it's premium S series lens line with a 16-50mm f2-2.8.

I think the body shouldn't be more than $999 (and by "shouldn't" I mean "better not be.") Then again, the Galaxy NX which has marginally better specs but a big LCD and cell technology is $1,700 for the kit.

Along with the camera, Samsung has announced two lenses and a flash. The first lens launches its premium lens "S" line with a 16-50mm f2-2.8 OIS, splash-and-dustproof, i-Function model, a typical higher-end kit-lens alternative. While the lens looks and feels very nice, a lot will depend on the price.

The second lens is a retracting power zoom 16-50mm f3.5-5.6 model that will be offered in a kit starting in April. Samsung also rolled out a new, higher-end flash unit (SEF-580A) than it offers now.


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