Samsung finally makes NX10 official

Samsung's interchangeable lens, somewhat compact camera makes uncompelling debut.


Updated 1/21/10: added a few details to chart and analysis based on B&H's price of $699.99 at the end.

It's been 9 months since Samsung first displayed its interchangeable-lens camera under glass; though now officially announced, in preproduction, and slated for availability this spring, there still isn't a whole lot of information available. Unfortunately, that includes price, which is key for this segment. Also still unknown are any real details about shooting performance, such as burst rate and shutter speed range. Samsung's only claim about autofocus is that it's "fast and decisive."

The most significant potential downside is the proprietary new lens mount--the Samsung NX mount. That alone has disappointed the small but vocal legions of Pentaxians who've been counting on Samsung to deliver an interchangeable-lens model to support their lenses (a reasonable assumption, given Samsung's dSLR relationship with Pentax). Samsung really could have used the support of these fanboys; now it has no built-in boosters to help with marketing. Although there's a plan to supply a Pentax K-mount adapter, it won't support autofocus. At launch, Samsung plans to offer three NX mount lenses: an 18-55mm f3.5-5.6, 50-200mm f4-5.6, and 30mm pancake.

Here are the limited specs that we know:

 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1Olympus E-P2Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 Samsung NX10
Sensor (effective resolution)12.1-megapixel Live MOS12.3-megapixel Live MOS12.1-megapixel Live MOS14.6-megapixel CMOS
17.3mm x 13mm17.3mm x 13mm17.3mm x 13mm

23.4mm x 15.5mm (est)

Sensitivity rangeISO 100 - ISO 3,200ISO 100 - ISO 6,400ISO 100 - ISO 3,200ISO 100 - ISO 3,200
Focal-length multiplier2x2x2x1.5x
Continuous shooting3.0 fps
unlimited JPEG/7 raw
3.0 fps
n/a JPEG/10 raw
3.0 fps
unlimited JPEG/7 raw
ViewfinderOptional electronicBundled plug-in articulating EVFElectronicElectronic
Autofocus23-area contrast AF11-area contrast AF23-area contrast AFContrast AF (number of areas n/a)
Metering144 zone324 zone144 zonen/a
Shutter60-1/4,000 sec; bulb to 4 minutes60-1/4,000 sec; bulb to 30 minutes60-1/4,000 sec; bulb to 4 minutes30-1/4000 sec.; bulb to 8 minutes; 1/180 x-sync
LCD3-inch fixed
460,000 dots
3-inch fixed
230,000 dots
3-inch articulated
460,000 dots
3-inch fixed
Image stabilizationOpticalSensor shiftSensor shiftOptical
Video (max resolution at 30fps)1,280x720 pixels AVCHD Lite or Motion JPEG MOV1,280x720 pixels Motion JPEG AVINone1,280x720 pixels H.264 MPEG-4
Battery life (CIPA rating)350 shots300 shots300 shots400 shots
Dimensions (WHD, inches)4.7x2.8x1.44.7x2.8x1.44.9x3.3x1.84.8x3.4x1.6
Weight (ounces)12.213.8; 14.9 (with EVF)15.114 (est)
Price$899.95 (with 14-45mm f3.5-5.6 lens) $1,099.98 (with 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 lens) $799.95 (with 14-45mm f3.5-5.6 lens)est. $699.99 (with 18-55mm 3.5-5.6 lens)
$899.95 (with 20mm f1.7 lens)$1,099.98 (with 17mm f2.8 lens)n/atbd (with 50-200mm f4-5.6 lens)

It lacks the sleekness of models such as the Olympus' E-P series, and is even a bit larger than the GF1. However, it does have a little more of a grip and its EVF is built in rather than an add-on. On one hand, the NX10 uses a larger sensor than its Micro Four Thirds competitors do, but it's also higher resolution, which might mitigate any potential noise advantages.

Also, unlike its competition, the NX doesn't have in-camera stabilization, instead using optical stabilization. This really only becomes an issue if it impacts the cost of the lenses or the practicality of using third-party lenses with an adapter.

Given the aforementioned lens issue and its rather ho-hum looks, the camera would have to be really fast or deliver extra good photos to appeal to the enthusiasts who have to date comprised the market for these cameras. At about $700 for a basic kit--and I don't know how much each lens will run--I don't think it's inexpensive or compact enough to appeal to people stepping up from a point-and-shoot. Slated to ship in the spring, the NX10 will come in silver as well as black.

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