Samsung NX20: Lab Test Results & Comments

Jill Rahn's picture
The Samsung NX20 is a mirrorless system camera with very high sensor resolution. Just like the Samsung NX200 it uses an APS-C-sized sensor and offers a resolution of 20MP. In contrast to the NX200 it uses an SLR-like body design and an electronic viewfinder with very high resolution. The EVF has 1.44 million RGB dots and offers a very brilliant and sharp image, which makes manual focusing very comfortable. In addition, the NX20 has a large AMOLED swivel screen on the back with a resolution of 614,000 RGB dots.

The Samsung NX20 offers 20MP resolution, a very unique handling concept (i-Function), Full HD video recording, and an integrated WLAN module that can be used for data transfer or to use with a smartphone as a remote controller for the camera.

The large monitor (3”) has an average resolution (614,000 RGB dots). Nevertheless, it offers a brilliant reproduction of colors due to its AMOLED system. The swivel monitor can be flipped up- and downward and even rotated to the front.

The standard cursor field (four way) is encircled by a setup dial to change image parameters. In addition, the camera has a second setup dial near the shutter release button.

The interfaces of the NX20 are located on the right-hand side of the body. The “iFn” button on the lens system starts i-Function to change image parameters by using the lens ring (which is normally used for focusing)

The camera offers a large mode dial on the top. The “Smart” mode will automatically detect the adequate scene mode for the current motive.

The Samsung NX20 is the first SLR system with an integrated WLAN module that allows image data transfer to a server or to a smartphone. In addition, this WLAN module allows an automatic upload of images to Facebook or a video upload to YouTube. It is also able to set up a direct wireless link to a smartphone. Samsung offers free apps to use the smartphone as a remote viewfinder and remote control to shoot images directly by pressing a virtual shutter release button on the smartphone LCD.

The NX20 uses Samsung’s i-Function technology, which allows a setup of image parameters like ISO speed or white balance by using the focus ring on the lens system. The Samsung lens has a button which is marked with an “i-Function” label. If the photographer presses this button he or she can choose the desired settings and change its parameters by turning the lens ring. This is a very comfortable feature. The offered i-Functions are dependent on the chosen exposure mode. The photographer can choose the functions via the camera menu.

The Samsung NX20 is very fast. Start-up time is very low and the shutter release delay is barely noticeable. The camera allows the user to shoot in Burst mode at up to 8 frames per second. Unfortunately, the image buffer is a bit weak and is only able to record up to 11 frames, so the photographer can use the high-speed mode for only 1.5 seconds, at which point the camera will start to save the frames to the SD/SDHC/SDXC card. Full HD videos can be recorded with the Samsung NX20 in PAL or NTSC mode with 25 or 30 frames per second.

The camera showed natural-looking skin tones with a slight shift into magenta (see cheeks of our model). Due to the low saturation of even very intense red colors the differentiation in these nuances is quite good.

The standard test box shot shows very good reproduction of fine details, like the structure in the metal sieve in the upper left. Red differentiation in the spool in the upper right is also very good. All colors have a natural look but are less saturated than in images taken with other cameras.

Image Quality
The results of the color tests are very good. The automatic white balance system works effectively and showed good results under all lighting conditions. There is only a minor shift of bright gray colors into the yellow and green direction. The color saturation is surprisingly low. With only 87.63 percent, it is quite low for an SLR/CSC, although it can be said it does not exaggerate colors like many compact cameras. The skin tones have a slightly high magenta rate, which is also unusual, as most cameras display a slightly higher yellow rate.

Sharpness: The Samsung showed a very good performance in our resolution tests. The camera reproduced the test chart with 3280 lines of 3648 lines offered by the image sensor, meaning it will transfer its nominal resolution almost completely into real image details. The test shot taken with the 18-55mm lens showed good performance and nearly no chromatic aberrations. The high-resolution result is also caused by an intense sharpness filtering, which can cause a slightly artificial look in scenes with a lot of details.

Noise: The camera showed a high luminance noise level even in lower ISO speed settings. It holds this level in the ISO 100 to 400 range by using an increasing anti-noise filtering and exceeds the 1.0 noise level in images taken with an ISO 800 setting.

The results of the color tests are very good. The automatic white balance system works effectively and showed good results under all lighting conditions. There is only a minor shift of bright gray colors into the yellow and green direction.

Due to high anti-noise filtering it shows smoothing effects in images taken with ISO 400 to 3200. Color noise is filtered very intensively. This reduces the color noise pixels, but the filtering artifacts are quite noticeable in images taken with ISO 3200 to 12,800. We noticed clearly visible color clouds (color smear) in homogeneously colored areas. The smooth filtering will reduce details. The high-resolution result was achieved at the ISO 100 setting. The findings in our dynamic range tests are on an average level for an APS-C camera. The maximum dynamic range is 10.4 f/stops.

The Samsung NX20 has a list price of $1099. For more information, visit


+ Very high sensor resolution
+ Nice and realistic-looking colors
+ Very fast, including very high image Burst mode with up to 8 frames per second (in full resolution)
+ Comfortable handling due to i-Function technology and swivel monitor
+ WLAN module for image data transfer and remote controlling by smartphone, for example
+ Full HD video

- Low resolution of swivel LCD (compared to other digital cameras at this price level)
- Small buffer for image Burst mode

Lab results and test images by BetterNet, our TIPA-affiliated testing lab. Edited by George Schaub.

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