cameras

Samsung NX20 Review

Samsung's new NX20, boasts the same huge megapixel count as the NX210 and the NX200.

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Science Introduction

Although color accuracy is merely passable, the combination of a high quality kit lens and an impressive sensor results in remarkably sharp images with wide dynamic range. The noise reduction algorithm is functional but not overly aggressive, and it keeps many shots usable well into the highest sensitivities. It's hard to take an ugly shot with the Samsung NX20.

Color Accuracy

Acceptable, but behind the best in its class

Color accuracy is above average, but it isn't among the NX20's best features. Our test returned an error value of only 2.89, a little bit ahead of the 3.00 median, with errors restricted almost exclusively to yellows and reds. This could cause human subjects to appear very slightly unnatural, but most other subjects and shades should be fine. Saturation, thankfully, is decent too: over by only 2.3%.

Color scores are almost the same as the Samsung NX200's, suggesting either an identical sensor or identical software, or both. Each camera is ahead of the Olympus E-M5, but for the most accurate camera in this segment, look to the *Nikon V1, one of the most accurate cameras we've ever tested.

Noise Reduction & Detail Loss

The quirky noise reduction system isn't overly aggressive, but it works in some strange ways.

Shots captured with the NX20 are generally free of image noise at low and moderate ISO levels. We were happy to find that—even without reduction software—noise levels do not cross 1.00% until ISO 6400. Chroma and luminance noise make up a fairly even share of the total noise, and ultimately this manifests as pixelation at low ISOs, and as color splotching at high ISOs.

For those hoping to maximize the NX20's noise reduction capabilities, there is something unusual to be aware of: although the software is very effective at removing noise above ISO 3200, this is actually not the case at 3200 and below. Turning on noise reduction will actually increase image noise from ISO 100 to 3200—very strange.

The differences are minimal, only 0.14% at the most. Still, for the absolute best in-camera noise reduction, use the system only when shooting ISO 6400 or above. To help you remember, 3200 is conveniently the limit of the auto-ISO function, so if you need to access the menus in order to change the ISO, swing by the noise reduction setting while you're there.

Sharpness

Manufacturers love to saddle high-end bodies with low quality kit lenses, but the NX20 has not fallen in with this trend.

To our surprise and delight, the Samsung NX20, when paired with the 18-55mm kit lens, is one of the sharpest cameras of the year. And that's saying a great deal, since we've seen some incredible, record-setting performers already in 2012.

Admittedly, a healthy dose of software edge enhancement is in use here, producing some fairly noticeable haloing in high contrast areas. However, the effect is by no means extreme, like we might see in a lower quality camera. Raw sharpness figures regularly exceeded 2400 lw/ph at MTF50, especially at the middle focal length. On very rare occasions we observed detail dropping below 1000, however these results were limited to the very edges of the frame, and just as often we observed detail spikes above 2700 or even 2800 lw/ph.

This is overall an extremely impressive performance, especially for a kit zoom lens. It's easy for manufacturers to get away with cheap kit glass, especially as we near the high end of the lineup. Thankfully, Samsung has done no such thing, even though the camera is aiding sharpness considerably.

Video Quality

Moving subjects are handled beautifully in videos captured with the NX20.

Video quality is up and down with the NX20. Contrast trailing and artifacting are nonexistent, and the footage is generally very smooth.

However, just like the Fujifilm X-Pro1, which deliberately omitted a low-pass filter to improve resolution, the NX20 suffers from extremely distracting moire when shooting patterned scenes. And just like X-Pro1, if you can stomach this effect, you'll end up with some pretty sharp video footage. Both horizontally and vertically, the sensor can achieve 500 lw/ph of detail under full studio illumination. That's on the lower end of the spectrum, which is disappointing, given how stellar the kit lens performs with still image sharpness.

Other Tests

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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