For the Samsung NX10, the whole feels like a lot more than the sum of the parts. Except for a nice design, surprisingly good lenses, and its status as the first interchangeable-lens camera (ILC) with a relatively large APS-C-size sensor, there doesn't seem to be anything particularly outstanding about the camera's feature set, performance or photo quality when taken individually. Nevertheless, my overall experience with the NX10 and opinion about the camera is a lot more positive than the individual ratings would indicate.
Larger and heavier than compact designs without EVFs (electronic viewfinders) and smaller than an entry-level dSLR, the plastic-bodied NX10 feels pretty well-constructed and comfortable to grip. Though the buttons and switches are a little flat with less travel than I'd like, they're laid out intelligently and where point-and-shoot upgraders will expect to find the settings. The four-way navigation switches bring up white balance, metering, ISO sensitivity, and AF/MF adjustments (with a typical set of options for each). The center OK button allows you to select your focus area (if you're in selection AF mode) as well as choose from four different sizes for the AF area--a nice feature. Fn navigates the rest of the options: resolution and compression, AF area, flash, color space, Smart Range (which brings back some highlights, though it doesn't seem to bring back detail in shadows or open midtones) and optical image stabilizer settings (always on or on focus lock). Samsung uses a pretty typical display layout for its user interface, although I have to admit I find its occasionally faux-analog aesthetic more appealing than most and the AMOLED renders extra-crisp icons. Next to the thumb rest and easily reached are the exposure compensation and autoexposure lock buttons; just above them in a slightly less comfortable-to-reach location sit the drive mode and movie record buttons.
The NX10 has a couple of notable drive mode options. While it only offers three-frame bracketing, it supports up to three stops in either direction, which is a nice deal for HDR enthusiasts. It can also bracket up to three sets of image (saturation, contrast, sharpness, color tone) Picture Wizard settings. The camera also has a 30fps/30 low-resolution shot burst mode, which is most useful for analyzing golf swings.
The mode dial atop the camera contains the usual access to PASM, scene, Smart Auto, and movie modes . While Samsung offers the same handful of scene modes as the rest of the crowd, its Smart Auto delivers a twist. Like others, it automatically picks a scene mode if it can match your shot to its criteria, but unlike the rest it actually tells you which mode it's chosen, such as macro or portrait. Unfortunately, if it's chosen wrong there's no way to correct it. Despite the dedicated movie record button, you've still got to be in movie mode on the dial, which I find annoying--and it doubles as a settings reset button when you're not in movie mode, which is kind of dangerous. For a full accounting of the NX10's features and operation, download a PDF of the manual.
|Olympus E-PL1||Panasonic Lumix DMC-G10||Samsung NX10|
|Sensor (effective resolution)||12.1-megapixel Live MOS||12.1-megapixel Live MOS||14.6-megapixel CMOS|
|17.3mm x 13mm||17.3mm x 13mm||23.4mm x 15.6mm|
|Color depth||12 bits||n/a||n/a|
|Sensitivity range||ISO 100 - ISO 3,200||ISO 100 - ISO 6,400||ISO 100 - ISO 3,200|
|Continuous shooting||3.0 fps
18 JPEG/ 10 raw
unlimited JPEG/ 7 raw
10 JPEG/ 3 raw
|Viewfinder||Optional plug-in articulating EVF
|Autofocus||11-area contrast AF||23-area contrast AF||15-point contrast AF|
|Metering||324 area||144 zone||247 segment|
|Shutter||60-1/2000 sec; bulb to 30 minutes||60-1/4000 sec; bulb to 4 minutes||30-1/4000 sec.; bulb to 8 minutes|
|3-inch fixed AMOLED
VGA (614,000 dots)
|Image stabilization||Sensor shift||Optical||Optical|
|Video (max resolution at 30fps)||720p Motion JPEG AVI||720p Motion JPEG MOV||720p H.264 MPEG-4|
|Battery life (CIPA rating)||290 shots||380 shots||400 shots|
|Dimensions (WHD, inches)||4.5 x 2.8 x 1.6||4.9 x 3.3 x 2.9||4.8 x 3.4 x 1.6|
|Weight (ounces)||12.4||11.9 (est)||14.5|
|Mfr. Price||est $549 (body only)
|$599 (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)|
I generally like Samsung's NX lenses--I used the 18-55mm kit lens, 30mm prime, and 50-200mm telephoto. They feel relatively well constructed, despite using plastic mounts. (The 50-200mm mount might be metal, but if so it's pretty plastic-feeling metal.) The zooms have image stabilization built in while the 30mm doesn't, which is one of the few drawbacks to relying on optical image stabilization--it's not in every lens. All the lenses are comfortable to operate, with smoothly rotating zoom and manual focus rings. The 50-200 does feel a bit overweighted for the body, though. All three are reasonably fast, and thanks to internal focus, quiet. They don't focus as close as I'd like, however; 10 and 11 inches for the 30mm and 18-55, respectively.
While it doesn't deliver class-leading performance, the NX10 does quite respectably. It powers on and shoots in 0.8 second; though relatively fast, keep in mind that it defaults to sensor cleaning on startup disabled, which adds at least a second delay. More irritating, when sensor cleaning is enabled it occurs every time the camera comes out of standby, not just on startup and perhaps shutdown like most dSLRs and ILCs. In bright conditions, it takes 0.5 second to focus and shoot, which is at the top of the range what we consider acceptable for the price and class. Ditto for its 0.7-second shot lag in dim light. Raw shooting takes a hair longer than JPEG--2 consecutive raw shots run 1.2 seconds vs. 1.0 for JPEG--though both represent reasonable times for the class. The flash recycles pretty quickly, though, bumping up to just 1.5 seconds. Despite comparatively good frame rates for burst performance, shooting action with an EVF camera is more miss than hit in general, making speed here kind of moot.
The LCD is nice and bright, if a bit contrasty, and sharp enough to use for manual focusing. But the EVF isn't great; it's low resolution, which makes it hard to use for manual focus, too contrasty and a bit jerky on the refresh. Plus, there's no way to override the automatic switching between the LCD and EVF when you put the camera up to your eye--or accidentally block the sensor with something.