Samsung's pitch for the 14.6-megapixel NX100 is that it brings professional results to those with beginner-level skills. It's the manufacturer's second compact camera with interchangeable lenses, the first being the NX10, released at the start of the year.
Stiff competition comes in the form of other hybrid cameras, such as the E-PL1, Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 and , and and . Like the NX100, all of those cameras provide the option to swap lenses, while offering a smaller form factor than a digital SLR.and
You can expect to pay a reasonable £430 for the NX100, including the compact 20-50mm zoom lens we tested. For about the same price, there's a 20mm pancake-lens kit for those who really value compactness.
Samsung all the way
Samsung proudly states that the technology inside the NX100 is '100 per cent Samsung'. One consequence of this is that the NX100 incorporates a large, APS-C-sized CMOS sensor, as found in dSLRs, which helps to deliver improved image quality. Another consequence is that the NX100 offers a couple of innovations based around the second most important element of the camera: the lens itself.
The retractable 20-50mm zoom lens, which offers an equivalent 30.8-77mm focal range in 35mm film terms, features an 'iFn' button on the side of the lens barrel. Press this and, in conjunction with a rotation of its front ring, the exposure-compensation (+/- 3EV), white balance, shutter-speed, aperture and light-sensitivity settings (up to ISO 6,400) can be adjusted on the fly without otherwise having to take your eye off your subject. The effects of your changes are shown in real-time on the screen.
The camera's built-in i-Scene lens-priority mode also allows it to automatically recognise what type of lens has been attached, and so suggest which kind of scene a particular lens is best suited for. Since the NX100 doesn't feature in-body anti-shake technology, defence against wobbly hands comes via lens-shift image stabilisation only.
The NX100 sports an impressive, 3-inch AMOLED screen that's impressively bright and clear; dynamic range expansion; 14 scene modes; raw and JPEG capture to an SD or SDHC card (up to 32GB); and 720p video capture at 30 frames per second. Samsung's colour-temperature-adjusting 'photo style selector' function, as included on its smaller-sensor compact-camera range, is also included.
What's been left out of the NX100 is just as important as what's been put in. There's no separate viewfinder included as part of the kit, although an electronic viewfinder is available as an extra for about £130. Also, frustratingly, while there's no built-in flash, there is a vacant hotshoe for attaching a flashgun.
Less of a deal-breaker is the fact that, unlike on the Panasonic GF-series or Olympus E-PL1 cameras, the NX100 lacks a dedicated video-record button. The video mode is instead selected via a reassuringly chunky top-mounted mode dial, which has a ridged edge to give you a firmer grip. Also on the mode dial are Samsung's standard scene- and subject-recognising 'smart auto' mode, and the creative quartet of program, shutter-priority, aperture-priority and manual shooting modes, along with a scene-mode option.