After much gnashing of teeth and straddling of fences, I finally decided the NX10's photo quality deserves an 8 over a 7. It's capable of producing some excellent photos, though pickier shooters are definitely going to want to change the default settings. I'd also recommend shooting raw, but no third-party software supports Samsung's files yet, and it ships with the powerful but impenetrable SilkyPix, which isn't customized very well for Samsung; for instance, it can't report any of the non-EXIF information that usually resides in a raw file, such as the image preset settings, and doesn't use the same processing preset conventions as are in the camera.
Though its defaults deliver relatively accurate results, Samsung's image controls are as frustrating as those on many entry-level dSLRs; they don't tell you what the inherent settings are for each of the different presets, instead leaving everything zeroed out. And Samsung gives you no indication as to which of the presets will provide the most neutral results.
It's notable that the NX10 delivered exceptionally low numbers on our noise tests, and the photos of the Color Checker charts at the various sensitivities used to derive the numbers do look very good. While it's usually true that high ISO sensitivity photos exhibit less noise in sufficient light than in low light for a given setting, I've never seen quite as dramatic a gap as with the NX10. So if you need high sensitivities in order to be able to get faster shutter speeds in bright light, the NX10 fares quite well. But that doesn't translate to great high ISO shots--about ISO 800 and above--in low light. While the camera preserves color saturation at high ISO sensitivities, you can see a lot of color noise and clipping in the shadows. And while fine details look okay at middle ISO sensitivities, it's generally because in its default settings Samsung applies excessive sharpening. As a side effect, though, artifacts get exacerbated in areas that might otherwise exhibit little noise.
All three lenses we tested--and right now, that's all there are--performed about the same as their typical inexpensive counterparts for dSLRs. The 30mm pancake prime displays relatively little distortion and good edge-to-edge sharpness. At its widest, the kit lens displays a bit more asymmetrical distortion than usual. At 50mm, the 50-200mm lens displays some distortion--not a lot, but more than one expects to see at 50mm. The aperture on the 18-55mm lens produces extremely round, nice-looking bokeh on point highlights.
The NX10 generally renders bright, saturated and pleasing colors. The NX10's color settings (dubbed Picture Wizard) are a bit of a mystery. On one hand, for outdoor shots in bright daylight, Calm delivers the most accurate rendering, albeit a little flat, while the default settings boost saturation (and possibly contrast) until the color is borderline wrong. However, on our test shots of a Color Checker under daylight-balanced lights, the default settings produced relatively accurate colors and the Calm setting yielded extremely low-contrast and generally poor results. The bundled raw software doesn't provide analogous profiles to the ones in-camera making it difficult to match (the closest it comes is something called Super Neutral).
The NX10's video looks OK if you don't look too closely. It's decently exposed and relatively sharp with no significant compression artifacts. But there's also moire on fine details, a propensity to the wobblies (more than usual), frequently jarring exposure adjustments and thin, mono sound.
As I said from the outset, the Samsung NX10 feels like more than the sum of its parts. Though I have nitpicks and quibbles with almost every aspect of the camera, I still enjoyed shooting with it and was able to get photos I liked--and ultimately that's the true test of a camera. Shooters looking to step up from a snapshot camera probably won't notice a lot of the image issues, though as with most ILCs you won't get the action shooting upgrade you might be looking for. Enthusiasts lost among the various models might want to pause and think about Samsung's proprietary lens mount and current dearth of lenses, as well as a lack of usable raw software, but if those don't bother you then there's a lot to like.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|Time to first shot||Raw shot-to-shot time||Typical shot-to-shot time||Shutter lag (dim)||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)