This is not so much a review of the 20.3-megapixel Samsung NX20, which is a fine compact system camera that takes very good photos for a product in the mirrorless category, but probably won’t replace your DSLR. This is, instead, a short look at a key feature in the NX20 and why I think it’s a step in the right direction for digital cameras.
Many manufactures have tried implementing some kind of wireless capability in their digital cameras but most of them have been a failure. On the other hand, wireless connectivity and access to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter in smartphones and tablets have been the main reasons those devices are so popular. The Samsung NX20 is the first camera I’ve shot with that comes close to bringing the wireless smart-sharing experience to a digital camera.
What does it get right that other cameras have failed at? For starters, the NX20 places Wi-Fi access directly on the camera’s mode dial so you don’t have to hunt for it in menus to switch it on. Once you turn the dial to Wi-Fi, an interface on the back of the camera is called up that lets you find a wireless access point and begin sharing your photos or videos.
No, the NX20 doesn’t have built-in cellular connectivity as is planned for Samsung’s Galaxy Camera that will run Google’s Android operating system, but it makes the most of the Wi-Fi connectivity it does have.
The NX20 has built-in 802.11 ABGN Wi-Fi Direct so you can connect to a wireless network or act as an access point. Getting it set up is a little trickier than I had hoped: using the virtual keyboard feature on back of the NX20 to load a username and password for a network was frustratingly slow. But once I was connected, it was extremely easy to share images and videos I had just shot to Facebook, Picasa or YouTube.
It was also simple to send the images via e-mail directly from the camera, or back up my photos to a connected computer or a Wi-Fi network. You can also connect the NX20 wirelessly to a phone or a tablet, and use the device as a live viewfinder to compose and snap shots. (This feature needs a little work though. The image quality of the live feed was only so-so.)
While none of this seems immediately important to pros, down the line it should pay dividends. Think of how much time you’d save if you could easily share your images wirelessly with a client, agency or an assistant? Didn’t you think we would all have this type of wireless connectivity in our cameras by now? What’s taken so long?
Don’t get me wrong: The NX20’s Wi-Fi capability is far from perfect and camera manufacturers still need to play catch up with mobile devices if they wish to remain relevant in the wireless world. It’s a good sign though, and hopefully more change is on the horizon.
The Bottom Line
Camera manufacturers have tried to add decent wireless connectivity to digital cameras for the last decade with little success. While the built-in Wi-Fi in the Samsung NX20 doesn’t come close to being as seamless to use as your iPhone, it’s a step in the right direction.
Pros: Finally a decent wireless setup in a digital camera
Cons: Your iPhone still kicks its butt
Price: $1,100; www.samsung.com
Read all of our camera reviews at www.pdnonline.com/cameras.