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Samsung Launches NX3000 Budget Mirrorless Camera for $529

Samsung continues to upgrade its NX line of mirrorless cameras with the announcement of the new NX3000 today (May 8). Replacing the entry-level NX2000, the new camera features a 20.3-megapixel APS-C sensor, a flip-up, 3-inch LCD and a higher-capacity battery.

Available June 1 in a choice of black, white or brown faux-leather finish, the NX3000 comes with a 16-50mm optical image stabilized (OIS) power zoom lens for $529 or with a 20-50mm zoom lens for $479. Both bundles come with an external SEF-8 flash .

MORE: Best Mirrorless Cameras 2014

The NX3000 boasts Wi-Fi and passive NFC capability to facilitate easy photo transfer. You'll also be able to control the bundled power zoom lens via the app, or use physical buttons on the side of the lens to zoom in or out. (You can't manually twist the lens barrel to a zoom as on most interchangeable lenses.) Other connectivity options include HDMI-out, a microSD/SDHC/SDXC card slot and a hot shoe for attachments such as the small included flash or larger units you can buy separately.

Selfie lovers will also appreciate the new flip-up LCD screen, the same as on the recently announced NX mini. Flipping up the LCD automatically turns on the camera, so you won't have to reach for the button to power up. Samsung also brought back physical buttons in place of the all-touchscreen controls on the NX2000; the new NX3000's 3-inch, 320 x 480 LCD screen is not touch enabled.

The NX3000 also packs a 2,330-mAh lithium-ion battery, giving this camera twice the juice of its predecessor and the NX300, both of which carry just a 1,130-mAh power pack. Samsung claims this is enough for 370 photos or 185 minutes of video. The NX mini also contains this new battery. As with many other mirrorless and DSLR cameras, the NX3000 comes with a free copy of Adobe's Lightroom 5.

One potential drawback is that the NX3000 only offers contrast-detection autofocus, lacking the more advanced, DSLR-style phase-detection autofocus found in the pricierNX30($1,000) and NX300 ($749). During our time with the $800 Olympus OM-D E-M10, which has a similar contrast-detection autofocus setup, we found the system sluggish and unresponsive in low-light situations.(For more about autofocus tech, see Why Autofocus Is the New Megapixel.) The NX3000 will support a light sensitivity range of between ISO 100 and ISO 25,600, which is practically night vision. But in our tests of cameras with similar specs, including Samsung's NX30, photos taken at such high ISOs aren't often useable. 

Though no laggard, the NX3000 is the slowest camera in the NX range, offering a top shutter speed of 1/4,000 second and continuous shooting of up to 5 frames per second for about 10 shots before slowing. That should still be plenty fast for casual shooting, and the autofocus speed may ultimately be the limiting factor here. The NX3000 shoots Full HD (1080p) video at 30 frames per second (same as the NX300). Some cameras, such as the $600 Nikon D3300 DSLR shoot at 60fps, but that's still a rare capability in cameras at this price range, or even higher.

Due to its slower speeds, less-advanced autofocus and simpler screen, the NX3000 can't compete with the NX300. But the new camera does cost some $200 less than the $759 NX300. If you're not looking to push into action photography, the NX3000 could be a good starter rig.

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