Samsung NX10 Review

    | Reviews | 28/04/2010 16:13pm
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    14 megapixel APS-C sensor hybrid camera in-depth review

    Unveiled earlier in 2010, Samsung’s eagerly anticipated NX10 puts an SLR sensor in a compact body. We find out if it was worth the wait as we put the camera under intense scrutiny. Read on for a full review complete with test pictures.

    Samsung NX10 Overview

    We’ve had Live View, and we’ve had HD movie modes, but now hybrid or EVIL (Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens) cameras have become the next big thing. The NX10 is arguably the most exciting development yet. Samsung isn’t the only player in this market – Olympus and Panaonic have lead the way, Sony’s revealed plans for its own interchangeable lens compacts, and it looks like others may follow.

    But why the fuss? It’s because the NX10 does away with the conventional mirror assembly of a digital SLR to produce a smaller, slimmer and less complicated body. The lenses are smaller, too, because they can be mounted closer to the sensor and therefore don’t need complicated and bulky ‘retrofocus’ designs. Instead of an optical viewing system, you get a high-resolution electronic viewfinder (EVF). And because the image is created electronically rather than optically, you get full-time Live View on the rear LCD, without the complicated mirror-flipping antics used by digital SLRs.

    It’s been done before, of course, with the Micro Four Thirds cameras from Panasonic and Olympus, but what’s different about the NX10 is that it uses a larger APS-C format sensor, as found in digital SLRs. There’s nothing special about Micro Four Thirds sensors that makes compact hybrid cameras possible, and Samsung’s proved it.

    Samsung NX10 vs Panasonic G1 and G2

    The NX10 is no larger than a G-series Panasonic. Side-by-side, they’re pretty much the same size. The NX10’s high-resolution EVF is just as good (though still not the same as the optical viewfinder of a digital SLR), and round the back is an AMOLED display. Samsung says this is easier to see in bright light, and it is, though not by much, and offers a much wider viewing angle, which is also true.
       
    But unlike the Panasonic G1, GH1 and G2, the NX10 doesn’t have an articulating display, and this is a bit of a drawback for ground-level close-ups and adventurous angles in general. For hybrid cameras to work, they really do have to exploit every single advantage, and the NX10 doesn’t quite do this.

    Samsung’s GX-series SLRs were rather leaden lumps, but the NX10 is slim, svelte and rather attractive. It’s light, smooth and easy to work, though there are a couple of irritations. For some reason, Samsung’s put the Menu button right at the top left of the body, a position it’s really hard to adapt to – it’s as far away from the navigational controls as you can get. And speaking of which, these are just where the base of your right thumb goes as you hold the camera, so it’s a bit too easy to bring up the white balance menu just through gripping the camera at slightly the wrong angle.

    The jargon used by Samsung in the menus can be frustrating too. Perhaps it’s meant to be novice-friendly, but much of it won’t mean anything until you read the manual. The Picture Wizards are in fact picture styles (Standard, Vivid, and so on), the Classic style is in fact black and white, and Samsung’s Smart Range feature improves shadow and highlight rendition in high-contrast scenes, though there’s not much in the name to suggest that.
       
    In general, though, the NX10 is a very sweet-handling camera. Samsung’s made good use of the available space and most everyday adjustments are just a button-click away. The on-screen interface is good, too, with big, clear numerals and attractive white-on-black ‘dials’ for displaying shutter speed, aperture and ISO adjustments.

    Samsung NX10 Review: Overview


    Samsung NX10 Review: Picture Quality


    Samsung NX10 Review: Test Pictures


    Samsung NX10 Review: Verdict


    Samsung NX10 Review: Specifications, Price and Product Shots

     

    Samsung NX10 Review: Picture Quality

    But what is the picture quality like from Samsung’s 14.6 megapixel CMOS sensor, and is it a visible step up from the 12 megapixel Micro Four Thirds models from Panasonic and Olympus? The results are certainly much better than those from Samsung’s previous GX-series SLRs, and the lens quality is quite striking. It’s not so much the outright definition, though, because although the NX10 might have a theoretical advantage over Micro Four Thirds cameras and many D-SLRs, it’s hard to see it in the pictures. 14 megapixels versus 12 is not a big jump in percentage terms, but what the NX10’s 18-55mm kit lens does show is excellent edge-to-edge sharpness, and with no visible chromatic aberration at all. That may be due to smart lens design or in-camera processing, but either way the NX10’s pictures are sharp and free from artefacts.

    The colours did seem slightly suspect once or twice on the day of our test. Shots taken in bright sun using the Daylight preset had a distinct green cast, especially if the Vivid colour mode was selected. Colours did look better with Auto white balance selected, though.

    The noise levels were OK, but not exceptional. At ISO1600 the image quality is about average for an APS-C format sensor, but at the maximum of ISO3200, things go downhill considerably, as you’d expect. There was a with a loss of detail and some strong colour ‘blotching’ in some areas, which would be impossible to remove later.

    Samsung NX10 Review: Overview


    Samsung NX10 Review: Picture Quality


    Samsung NX10 Review: Test Pictures


    Samsung NX10 Review: Verdict


    Samsung NX10 Review: Specifications, Price and Product Shots

     

    Samsung NX10 Review: Test Pictures

    Below are some test images shot with the NX10, click to see full size.

    Samsung NX10 Review: Overview


    Samsung NX10 Review: Picture Quality


    Samsung NX10 Review: Test Pictures


    Samsung NX10 Review: Verdict


    Samsung NX10 Review: Specifications, Price and Product Shots


     

     

    Samsung NX10 Review: Verdict

    The NX10 definitely has the potential to produce some great shots, but it’s up against a whole bunch of rival cameras that are just as good or better. It’s a shame, too, that the bundled RAW conversion software is PC only. Mac users will have to wait until third-party software publishers catch up.

    Samsung has done a good job with the NX10. It’s remarkably slim and compact given the size of the sensor, and shows that you don’t need a Micro Four Thirds sensor to produce a compact hybrid camera. But it is geared quite heavily towards beginners, and the lens line-up is currently limited to this lens, a 50-200mm telephoto zoom and a 20mm pancake lens.

    So who will buy the NX10? A basic DSLR from Canon or Nikon will offer similar quality and greater expandability at a lower price, and Panasonic’s G-series (G10 excepted) has articulating LCDs, more lenses and a big head start. Nevertheless, for a first attempt at an APS-C hybrid, the NX10 is very good, and while there may be a way to go yet before it becomes a serious mainstream brand, Samsung’s launched it at a price that should rattle quite a few cages.

    Features: 4/5

    It might be pitched at beginners, but the NX10 has all the features enthusiasts would demand, offering good hands-on control too.

    Performance: 4/5

    The 18-55mm kit lens delivers great edge-to-edge sharpness and no chromatic aberration, though the NX10’s colour rendition seems variable.

    Handling: 3/5

    The Samsung is generally good to use, but there are a lot of small buttons, which can be pressed by accident, and the Menu button is oddly situated.

    Build quality: 4/5

    The NX10‘s plastic construction is to be expected in this price bracket, but it feels well made and the controls are smooth and positive.

    Value for money: 4/5

    For a brand new camera type, the NX10 is not at all expensive, and competes head-on with low-cost D-SLRs that have been around for a while.

    Samsung NX10 Review: Overview


    Samsung NX10 Review: Picture Quality


    Samsung NX10 Review: Test Pictures


    Samsung NX10 Review: Verdict


    Samsung NX10 Review: Specifications, Price and Product Shots


    Samsung NX10 Review: Specifications, price and product shots

    Samsung NX10 Specifications:

    RRP: £599.99
    Image sensor: 14.6 megapixels, 23.4×15.6mm
    Focal length conversion: 1.6x
    Viewfinder: EVF 921,000 pixels
    Stills aspect ratio: 3:2
    Lens mount: Samsung NX
    Memory: SD/SDHC, none supplied
    Metering modes: Multi-zone, Centre-weighted, Spot
    Focusing modes: Auto (multi-zone, spot), Manual
    Shutter speed: 1/4000 sec to 30 sec, Bulb
    Integral flash: GN11 at ISO100
    Flash sync: 1/180 sec
    Flash modes: Auto, on, off, red-eye, slow-sync, rear curtain, hotshoe
    Drive modes: Single, Continuous (3fps), Self-timer
    ISO sensitivity: ISO 100-3200
    Exposure modes Program, Aperture, Shutter, Manual, plus scene modes
    Preview monitor: 3-inch colour AMOLED, 614,000 pixels
    Weight 353g
    Battery life: 400 shots
    Power supply: Li-ion BP1310
    Transfer: USB 2.0 High Speed, Video, HDMI
    Software: Samsung Master, Samsung RAW Converter (Windows only)

    Samsung NX10 Product Shots:



    Samsung NX10 Review: Overview


    Samsung NX10 Review: Picture Quality


    Samsung NX10 Review: Test Pictures


    Samsung NX10 Review: Verdict


    Samsung NX10 Review: Specifications, Price and Product Shots


    Posted on Wednesday, April 28th, 2010 at 4:13 pm under Reviews.

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