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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-PL1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G10 Samsung NX10 Samsung NX100
Sensor (effective resolution) 12.3-megapixel Live MOS 12.1-megapixel Live MOS 14.6-megapixel CMOS 14.6-megapixel CMOS
17.3mm x 13mm 17.3mm x 13mm 23.4mm x 15.6mm 23.4mm x 15.6mm
Sensitivity range ISO 100 - ISO 3,200 ISO 100 - ISO 6,400 ISO 100 - ISO 3,200 ISO 100 - ISO 3,200/6,400 (expanded)
Focal-length multiplier 2x 2x 1.5x 1.5x
Continuous shooting 3.0 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
Autofocus 11-area contrast AF 23-area contrast AF 15-point contrast AF 15-point contrast AF
Metering 324 area 144 zone 247 segment 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 30-1/4000 sec.; bulb to 8 minutes
Flash Yes Yes Yes Add-on only
LCD 2.7-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 stabilization Sensor shift Optical Optical Optical
Video (max resolution at 30fps) 720p Motion JPEG AVI 720p Motion JPEG MOV 720p H.264 MPEG-4 720p H.264 MPEG-4
Audio I/O Mic None n/a n/a
Battery life (CIPA rating) 290 shots 380 shots 400 shots 420 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 4.7 x 2.8 x 1.4
Weight (ounces) 12.4 13.9 14.5 11 (est)
Mfr. price $499 (est) n/a
n/a 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)
Availability March 2010 May 2010 March 2010 October 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.