This year's Consumer Electronics Show doesn't kick off until next week, but Samsung got a jump on the camera announcements by unveiling its new NX30 and Galaxy Camera 2 a few days early.
The NX30 offers a lot of compelling reasons for NX20 shooters to upgrade, while the new Galaxy Camera 2 is a more modest upgrade compared to the original Galaxy Camera.
The NX30 is a 20-megapixel APS-C mirrorless camera. It utilises a slightly upgraded version of the sensor used in the NX300. Improved circuitry promises a slight advantage in low light, without sacrificing the on-sensor hybrid autofocus system that worked well in the NX300.
The camera features a vari-angle 3in AMOLED display with a 1,037k-dot resolution. It's brighter than the panel that was included in the NX300, but just how bright the display can get is yet to be determined. Samsung's Jay Kelbley stated that at the full potential brightness you'd need a "car battery" to run the camera, so Samsung engineers plan on limiting it to a more reasonable maximum brightness.
The NX30 also has a built-in EVF. At 2.36 million dots it's twice as sharp as the one that Samsung included in the NX20 and Galaxy NX. It's also got a design that's rare among mirrorless cameras. Like the Panasonic GX7 it can almost straight up (80°), which is a helpful when shooting on a tripod or getting a handheld shot from a lower angle.
The camera can shoot at up to 9 frames per second, and features a minimum shutter speed of 1/6,000-second when using the mechanical shutter. There's also an electronic shutter that can fire as quickly as 1/8,000-second. The built-in flash has an 11' Guide Number, and supports high-speed sync when coupled with the electronic shutter. The sensor has a base ISO of 100, but can be cranked as high as 25600. As you would expect, Raw capture is supported in addition to the standard JPG. Adobe Lightroom 5 is included as a Raw converter.
The NX30 is also a pretty formidable video camera. It records 1080p footage at 60, 30, or 24 frames per second, and includes a microphone input, audio meters and level control, and support for live HDMI output at 30 frames per second. Video is stabilised digitally, and if you are using a lens with optical stabilisation the digital and optical systems will work together to steady shots.
Like all of Samsung's 2014 lineup, the NX30 features built-in Wi-Fi. The company is calling this generation of its connectivity Smart Camera 3.0, and it adds a few features to the already robust implementation. You'll still be able to transfer images to a phone or tablet, upload to web services like Facebook, YouTube, Picasa, and SkyDrive, and control the camera with your handheld device. Smart Camera 3.0 adds support for Dropbox and Flickr to the mix, and expands the functions that are available via remote control. It also does more with NFC; pair the camera with a compatible device and the PhotoBeam function will automatically transfer images as you shoot them. There's also support for HomeSync servers and, if you've got a little one at home, you can set the NX30 in the nursery and use it as a video baby monitor.
A pair of new lenses and a flash are also being announced for the NX system. The SEF580 strobe has a 58' Guide Number and supports wireless TLL; it can be used on camera as a master to control other strobes. The lenses are a pair of very different 16-50mm zooms. First there's the compact 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 Power Zoom ED OIS, which emphasises size above all. It collapses into itself when not in use, protruding a mere 3.1 centimeters from the lens mount when not in use. The second lens is a pro-level 16-50mm F2-2.8 ED OIS zoom. It's the first in Samsung's S series for NX cameras, so it features a metal barrel, a splash and dust resistant design, and a quiet focus motor.
The Galaxy Camera 2 is a modest update to its predecessor. From an imaging perspective, it's the same camera, with a 16-megapixel image sensor and 21x (23-483mm equivalent) lens. The flash is now hinged, and although Samsung said that the plan was to support bounce flash by titling it back, the preproduction unit that I spent a few minutes with wouldn't fire with the flash tilted back.
There are also some software improvements: The number of Smart shooting modes has increased to 28, and you can separate exposure and focus, controlling each independently via two taps on the rear display. There's also a minor update to Android. It's going to ship with the latest version of Jelly Bean, but there's no word on whether or not KitKat will be made available for it or for the original Galaxy Camera.
The Galaxy Camera 2 a bit different cosmetically thanks to a chrome design with black or white leatherette covering. But the rear 4.8in display is the same. Support for NFC has been added, the RAM has been doubled from 1GB to 2GB, the CPU is now a quad-core chip running at 1.6GHz, and a new larger battery is rated at 2,000mAh.
Pricing and availability for these new cameras and lenses has not yet been announced.