Samsung NX30 Review: An Easy, Pared-Down Camera For BeginnersMichael Hession5/06/14 12:07pmFiled to: reviewssamsung nx30camerassamsungnx30mirrorlessmirrorless camerasphotographyReframe15EditPromoteShare to KinjaToggle Conversation toolsGo to permalinkSamsung makes headlines for its phones nowadays, but a lot of effort is going into cameras as well. The NX30 is the company's most serious attempt at a fully-featured mirrorless shooter. What Is ItAn $800 (with kit lens) 20 megapixel mirrorless camera with an APS-C size sensor. It's the beefiest camera that Samsung makes, featuring an extendable electronic viewfinder, three inch AMOLED touch-screen, hybrid autofocus with 105 phase detection points and 247 contrast detection points, full HD video—basically everything you would expect to find in a mid-range DSLR or mirrorless camera. Many specs are updated from the camera's predecessor, the NX20, including the AF system, LCD, processor, and video capabilities. Also, it comes with Adobe Lightroom 5, which is a $100 value!Why Does It MatterWhen you think of cameras your mind probably first arrives at Canon or Nikon, then migrates to Fujifilm, Olympus, or Sony. And yet, Samsung is actually kind of killing it. Despite being largely absent from enthusiast discussion, it's currently 2nd place in mirrorless camera sales in the United States, right behind Sony. That's probably due to Samsung's lower-cost products and appeal to a broader amateur market. The NX30 reflects an attempt to get a bit more serious, and maybe lure in some of the enthusiasts. Design It looks like a DSLR. That's largely by design, as Samsung knows that people are still clinging to the big-grip, big-lens form-factor. But this is a mirrorless camera, and thus is very light and smaller than most DSLRs. The body is made of curvy plastic, helping keep the load light, but making it feel like a toy at the same time. It's got a large and comfortable grip, probably one of my favorite grips on any recent camera.All the buttons and dials feel pretty good. They are discreet with decent action. Other mechanisms seem solid and well-implemented, such as the flip out LCD and the odd tilting viewfinder. Overall, it's not the most stylish camera in the world, which is a problem, because though they might not admit it, style matters to many photographers these days.Using ItThe NX30 is an all-around solid performer in most major areas. Image quality is right up there with other APS-C cameras like the Canon T4i or Sony Alpha E-mount cameras. This is hardly news however, since sensor image quality has largely evened out across competitors in recent years, with slight advantages only visible during insane levels of pixel-peeping. In low light, the NX30 is average. Its large sensor has it beating micro four thirds cameras from Olympus and Panasonic, but it did show just a bit more noise than the Canon T4i and the Sony a6000 at high ISOs.AdvertisementAdvertisementAll of our sample images were shot in RAW and converted to JPG through Adobe Lightroom. View them at full size in our Flickr gallery.1/400 f/7.1 ISO 1001/125 f/3.5 ISO 4001/125 f/5.6 ISO 16001/100 f/5.0 ISO 400A bit of a surprise was the performance of the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens. It's pretty darn good, with lots of detail coming through at all focal lengths. Of course, it still carries signature kit-lens attributes like barrel distortion when shooting RAW (without a lens profile applied), and a bit of smearing in the corners. It also feels extremely cheap. But it will do fine in most situations with optical stabilization kicking in and a bonus function button on the side. We still recommend investing in a good prime lens with an f/1.8 or wider aperture for more shooting possibilities, but the NX kit lens won't disappoint if other purchases are not in the cards. As far as other NX lenses go, there aren't enough options to comprise a complete system. The only fast primes are an 85mm f/1.4 and a 30mm f/2. Telephoto zooms lack a fast f/2.8 option, and there is no super wide-angle glass yet offered.AdvertisementSponsoredAutofocus on the NX30 is fast, doing just fine in all but the dimmest situations. It has face detection and also "self-portrait" detection, but I couldn't figure out how the two were different. Tracking and continuous AF performance are significantly less great, as is always the case with mirrorless cameras. Intermittent hunting occurred in most of our tests.1/80 f/5.6 ISO 3200ISO Test, cropped to 100% size (the ISO 1600 sample is slightly out of focus, sorry)One of the signature features of the NX30, the extendable viewfinder, is an odd one to be sure. No other camera possesses this ability, because it really isn't that useful. I never had the impulse to extend the viewfinder while shooting, but that may be because it's hard to even remember it's there! Still, the only situation I can really think of the tilting EVF coming in handy is if you shoot a lot of birds and want to save your neck from the strain of looking skyward. The actual display inside is sharp enough at 1024 x 768, but boy is it small, especially after using some of the large and amazing EVFs of the Olympus OMD E-M1 and the Fujifilm X-T1.