Samsung NX100, a $600 entry-level ILC

Samsung's budget little brother for the NX10 boasts an attractive design. Is it too expensive given what the company has cut from the higher-end model, though?

Samsung NX100
Samsung Electronics

Last Spring, Samsung Germany announced the camera that was ostensibly supposed to be the cheap little brother to the company's NX10 ILC (interchangeable-lens camera). That model never seemed to materialize--I can't find it for sale anywhere online--an unfortunately not-uncommon occurrence for Samsung. Let's hope the company delivers on its U.S.-bound little brother, the NX100. Though only a bit less expensive than the NX10, the NX100 has a different body design and introduces a new lens-based interface for some features.

The NX100's shape has more in common with its competitor, the Olympus E-PL1, than it does with the NX10; It's more rectangular, but still curvy. It's very attractive, and comfortable to hold, and comes in a deep brown as well as the traditional black. Samsung also plans a white model, but we're unlikely to see that here. Most of its innards will be the same as the NX10, with the same specs. The new kit lens introduces the novel i-Function and Lens Priority capabilities. i-Function allows you to use one of the lens rings to adjust shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, white balance, and ISO sensitivity, while Lens Priority works in conjunction with the body to choose among scene presets based on the lens' characteristics.

However, Samsung seems to cut costs by jettisoning the EVF and flash, and the kit lens has a 20-50mm focal length, which is a smaller range than most; plus, it lacks image stabilization. I would've thought that those three hardware features would add up to more than the $100 price difference between the two models.

Here's a summary of how the NX100 compares to the NX10 and similarly priced competitors:

 Olympus E-PL1Panasonic Lumix DMC-G10Samsung NX10Samsung NX100
Sensor (effective resolution)12.3-megapixel Live MOS12.1-megapixel Live MOS14.6-megapixel CMOS14.6-megapixel CMOS
17.3mm x 13mm17.3mm x 13mm23.4mm x 15.6mm23.4mm x 15.6mm
Sensitivity rangeISO 100 - ISO 3,200ISO 100 - ISO 6,400 ISO 100 - ISO 3,200 ISO 100 - ISO 3,200/6,400 (expanded)
Focal-length multiplier2x2x1.5x1.5x
Continuous shooting3.0 fps
3.2 fps
unlimited JPEG/7 raw
3.0 fps
10 JPEG/ 3 raw
3.0 fps
10 JPEG/ 3 raw
(effective magnification)
Optional plug-in articulating EVF
1,440,000 dots
202,000 dots
VGA/921,000 dots
Optional plug-in EVF
201,000 dots
Autofocus11-area contrast AF23-area contrast AF15-point contrast AF15-point contrast AF
Metering324 area144 zone247 segment247 segment
Shutter60-1/2000 sec; bulb to 30 minutes60-1/4000 sec; bulb to 4 minutes30-1/4000 sec.; bulb to 8 minutes30-1/4000 sec.; bulb to 8 minutes
FlashYesYesYesAdd-on only
LCD2.7-inch fixed
230,000 dots
3-inch fixed
460,000 dots
3-inch fixed AMOLED
614,000 dots
3-inch fixed AMOLED
921,000 dots
Image stabilizationSensor shiftOpticalOpticalOptical
Video (max resolution at 30fps)720p Motion JPEG AVI720p Motion JPEG MOV720p H.264 MPEG-4720p H.264 MPEG-4
Audio I/OMicNonen/an/a
Battery life (CIPA rating)290 shots380 shots400 shots420 shots
Dimensions (WHD, inches)4.5 x 2.8 x 1.64.9 x 3.3 x 2.94.8 x 3.4 x 1.6 4.7 x 2.8 x 1.4
Weight (ounces)12.413.914.511 (est)
Mfr. price$499 (est)n/a
$599.99 (with 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 lens)
$599.95 (with 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 lens)
$699.99 (with 18-55mm 3.5-5.6 lens)$599 (with 20-50mm 3.5-5.6 lens)
AvailabilityMarch 2010May 2010March 2010October 2010

The NX100 does have a couple of obvious advantages over the E-PL1 and the G10, such as the nicer LCD and more efficient video codec; a GPS module for the hot shoe is also coming. But Samsung is still ramping up its NX lenses. The company is planning to ship a 20mm f2.8 pancake soon and a 60mm macro and 18-200mm telephoto lenses in the first half of 2011, followed by 16mm and 85mm primes and a 16-80mm general-purpose lens later in 2011. All in all, though, the camera certainly look interesting and not just a me-too model.

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