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CNET First Look
CNET First Look
>>Laurie Grunin: Hi, I'm Laurie Grunin, Senior Editor for CNET and this is the Samsung NX10. For this camera the whole feels like a lot more than the sum of the parts. It's got a nice design, surprisingly good lenses, ranks as the first interchangeable lens camera with a relatively large 14 megapixel APS-C-size sensor, but otherwise there doesn't seem to be anything particularly outstanding about the camera's feature set performance or photo quality when you take the pieces 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 electronic view finders, but smaller than an entry level dSLR, the plastic-bodied NX10 feels pretty well constructed and comfortable to grip, although 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. Samsung uses a pretty typical display layout for its user interface and I have to admit that I find its occasionally faux-analog aesthetic more appealing than most plus the AMOLED LCD renders extra-crisp icons.
The camera has a couple of notable drive mode options. While it only offers three-frame bracketing, it supports them enough to three stops in either direction, which is a nice deal for HDR enthusiasts. The camera also have a 30fps/30 shots, low-resolution burst mode, which is most useful for analyzing golf swings.
The mode dial atop the camera contains the usual access to semi-manual 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 internal criteria, but unlike the rest it actually tells you which mode it's chose, such as macro or portrait. Unfortunately, if it's made the wrong choice, 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.
While it doesn't deliver class-leading performance, the NX10 does quite respectively. It powers on and shoots relatively fast but the default is with sensor cleaning disable on startup and when you enable it, that adds at least a second delay. More irritating is when its enable it cleans every time the camera comes out of standby, not just on startup and shutdown like most SLRs and ILCs. 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 mute.
The LCD is nice and bright, if a bit contrasty, and it's 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, it's too contrasty and it's a bit jerky on the refresh. The NX10 is capable of producing some excellent photos, though pickier shooters are definitely going to want to change the default settings. It generally renders a bright, saturated and pleasing colors but the NX10's color settings, which are dubbed Picture Wizard, are a bit of a mystery.
Its defaults deliver relatively accurate results, but Samsung's image controls are as frustrating as those on many entry-level SLRs. They don't tell you what the inherent settings are for each of the different presets, instead leaving everything zeroed out. If you need high sensitivities in order to be able to get faster shutters speeds in bright light, the NX10 fairs quite well. But that doesn't necessarily translate to generally great high ISO shots in low light. While the camera preserves color saturation at these high ISOs, you can still 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, artifacts get exacerbated in areas that might otherwise exhibit little noise.
The NX10's video looks okay 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 the fine details, a propensity to the wobblies, more than usual, frequently jarring exposure adjustments and thin, mono sound.
Though I have nitpicks and quibbles with almost every aspect of the camera, I still enjoyed shooting with it and I 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 the 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.
I'm Laurie Grunin and this is the Samsung NX10.
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