Interchangeable Lens Camera: Samsung NX10 Review

Samsung NX10 Review
Text and Photos by Allison Gibson

Interchangeable Lens Digital Cameras

A new genre has emerged in digital photography gear: the compact interchangeable lens digital camera. Not to be confused with its rival, the Micro Four Thirds system camera—which is, in turn, the rival of the digital SLR camera—the interchangeable lens digital camera is, in bare-bones terms, a hybrid point-and-shoot/D-SLR. With a large APS-C size CMOS image sensor that’s as big as those found in entry-level D-SLRs, the compact interchangeable lens camera has the advantage of a smaller, more lightweight body. The major defining difference between the compact interchangeable lens digital camera and the D-SLR is that the former is mirrorless, meaning it abandons the mirror box (which in a D-SLR is necessary for the viewfinder to see exactly what the lens sees), operating exclusively with Live View shooting—the same way that the Micro Four Thirds camera does. (See my recent review of the Panasonic Lumix GF1 to learn more about the Micro Four Thirds standard.)

So far in 2010, three cameras of this type have been announced: the Samsung NX10, which was floated as a concept at PMA 2009 and then introduced in full at CES 2010; and the Sony NEX-3 and NEX-5, which were both announced on May 11, 2010 after Sony introduced the concept at PMA.

Samsung NX10

Samsung is making a big effort this year to establish itself once and for all as a digital photography company, beyond simply a consumer electronics giant that happens to make cameras. The company’s line of point-and-shoot cameras has been popular for a while now, and was made more so recently with the DualView TL225 (reviewed here), but the NX10 has promoted Samsung to the status of a major imaging brand. Another move by Samsung to establish itself in this market was to produce a line of optics with only the name Samsung printed on them, rather than the previously touted inclusion of Schneider Kreuznach glass on Samsung cameras.

Samsung NX10 with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens
click the thumbnails to see full-size images

The Samsung NX10 is a 14.6-megapixel CMOS sensor interchangeable lens digital camera. It is 4.23”W x 4.43”H x 1.57”D and weighs roughly 11 ounces unloaded. Compared to an entry-level D-SLR such as the Nikon D3000, it is smaller and lighter—the largest difference being in the depth of the camera body. The NX10 has a 3-inch AMOLED display screen, which Samsung claims has a response time that’s 3,000 times faster than that of an LCD display. I found it to be very bright and clear, even at angles, both inside and out in direct sunlight. It also has a built-in electronic viewfinder, which allows you the more professional feel of putting your eye to the camera to frame shots rather than hold it out in front of you like a point-and-shoot. And, unlike the optical viewfinders of D-SLRs, the NX10’s Live View allows you to see exactly what you will capture in the moment. It also offers 100% field of view. The NX10 also offers High Definition video recording (720p).

Samsung NX10 with 30mm f/2.0 lens
click the thumbnails to see full-size images

Another advantage of the NX10 is that it could be considered less intimidating than a D-SLR. This is partly owing to its size, yes, but also to its UI as well as its Smart Auto and helpful selection of Scene shooting modes, including Beauty Mode. I was impressed by the uncluttered and logical design of the camera’s layout, and the intuitive digital menu.

Samsung NX10 with 50-200mm f/4.0-5.6 lens
click the thumbnails to see full-size images

Performance

By in large, the NX10 is a sophisticated, yet uncomplicated image maker. I tested the system with three different NX system lenses: 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6, 30mm f/2.0, and 50-200mm f/4.0-5.6. The camera comes in a kit with the 18-55mm OIS zoom lens  for $699.99 (MSRP).

The fixed focal length 30mm f/2.0 pancake lens allows the camera to keep its slim profile—making it compact enough to actually fit into a small purse or bag—and it provides the widest aperture of the three. This lens proved to be incredibly fast and allowed for nice subject isolation, which makes for beautiful images but isn’t right for every type of shooting situation. If your photographic style only requires one focal length, then this lens makes sense, but if not you may find yourself missing the versatility that a zoom lens offers, or needing one as a backup for your system. The telephoto 50-200mm made the otherwise conveniently lightweight camera gain some significant heft, but it performed quite well outdoors in bright natural light (and not so well in low-light).

The NX10 can handle sensitivities of up to ISO 3200, with marked noise really only becoming apparent at ISO 1600. Check out the image gallery below for ISO comparison shots.

50-200mm f/4.0-5.6 lens zoomed all the way out and in
click the thumbnails to see full-size images


18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens: ISO 100/200/400/800/1600/3200
click the thumbnails to see full-size images



30mm f/2.0 lens lens: ISO 100/200/400/800/1600/3200
click the thumbnails to see full-size images

NX10 or D-SLR?

Aside from the mirrorless aspect of the Samsung NX10, which technologically speaking differentiates it from a digital SLR, the major difference to the photographer is the size and weight. With the pancake lens, the NX10 is much slimmer than any D-SLR you will get your hands on right now, and is noticeably lighter. With the kit 18-55mm lens, the camera looks and feels more like a smaller D-SLR, but the slim body reinforces the size and weight difference still. Used with the 50-200mm, the camera gains significant weight, but again, the body will never be as heavy or thick as that of a D-SLR. And since the NX10’s APS-C size CMOS sensor is on par with that of a D-SLR, the possibility to shoot large, low-noise images makes the NX10 all the more alluring to someone shopping for a more serious digital camera than a compact point-and-shoot. I was very impressed with the image quality and UI of this system and am excited by the possibilities that it offers.

Samsung NX10

  • MSRP:
  • $699.99
  • Size/Weight:
  • 4.23″W × 3.43″H × 1.57″D; 0.77 lbs.
  • Image Sensor:
  • 14.6-megapixels, APS-C size CMOS
  • Still Recording Format:
  • RAW (SRW), JPEG (EXIF 2.21), DCF, DPOF 1.1,
    PictBridge 1.0
  • Memory:
  • SD/SDHC Memory Card
  • Display:
  • 3-inch AMOLED scrren; 100% field-of-view viewfinder
  • Video Recording Mode:
  • 1280×720, 640×480, 320×340 (30fps)
  • ISO Equivalent:
  • Auto/100/200/400/800/1600/3200
  • Power Source:
  • Rechargeable battery : BP1310 (1300mAh)
  • Contact:
  • www.samsung.com/us
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4 Responses to “Interchangeable Lens Camera: Samsung NX10 Review”

  1. [...] Interchangeable Lens Camera: Samsung NX10 Review | Digital … Filed under: Uncategorized, photograph Comment (0) Article tags: confused-with, considered-less, [...]

  2. Yaniv Loran says:

    Hi – I have a number of pre-digital PENTAX SLR zoom lenses. Can these be used with digital SLR cameras? And is so, can they be used with any brand of d-SLR or are they limited to PENTAX d-SLR cameras.

    I’m looking for a good value d-SLR (I like shooting from a view finder – I do not like shooting from a screen). I’m an amateur who’s photos are largely limited to vacation pics and shots of the kids (school shows, hockey arenas, etc).

    In the perfect world, the camera I would buy would last me years and would get more use once the kids move out and my wife and I find ourselves with more time on our hands.

    No urgency – I’ve done without for years.

    Cheers and thank you.

    Yaniv Loran
    Montreal, Quebec, Canada

  3. Annrak says:

    Thank you for the post, i appreciated reading through it. I do not agree with it all however it was a nice publish.

  4. army mos says:

    Interesting article , I’m going to spend more time reading about this topic

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