While at CES 2010, I had the opportunity to handle the new 14.6MP Samsung NX10. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take any image samples from the camera because it was a pre-production model. The good news about the camera though, is that it was mostly functional and gave a good idea of what to expect from the NX10 that we’ll soon see on store shelves.
When you first see the camera, it is apparent that it’s not really that much smaller than a typical entry-level DSLR. That said, there is a noticeable size difference, particularly in the thickness of the body. It still feels like a compact DSLR in the hand though – along the lines of a Pentax K-x.
The NX10 has a nice button layout and overall ergonomics. I prefer a little bit of a ridge (like the NX10 has) for the right hand to grip on a camera whether it’s a point and shoot or SLR, so consider that bias in my opinion of how it handles.
The AMOLED menu system is very well done. The graphics used for navigating around the settings are some of the cleanest and, frankly, prettiest that I’ve seen on a camera. There’s a Fn (function) button that brings up common settings that you might want to adjust on the fly. The rest of the menu seems to be navigable in a pretty intuitive manner.
One of the big questions that we always have about these mirrorless “hybrid” cameras is how fast it will focus. Fortunately, it looks like Samsung has done a solid job with the focusing on the NX10. Based on my initial observations with this pre-production model, I would put the focus speed of the NX10 up there with the Panasonic GH1, which I consider pretty quick for the Micro Four Thirds format.
The focus speed ranges from “wicked fast” with the 30mm f/2 lens down to “average” at the long end of the 50-200mm lens, which provides much less light at f/5.6. The 30mm f/2 lens is also capable of some beautiful bokeh. It just might be a “must have lens” for the NX10 thanks to the pancake form-factor, which makes the NX10 seem a whole lot smaller.
The 18-55mm kit lens and 50-200mm telephoto zoom lens offer optical image stabilization, which is effective at reducing blur from camera shake. Based on what I could see on the NX10 AMOLED by zooming in on the images, it lives up to its name pretty well. At 200mm, there’s a noticeable benefit of the image stabilization of at least a couple of stops or so.
In addition to the three kit lenses already announced, Samsung representatives confirmed that a Pentax K-mount adapter will be available at the launch of the NX10. A K-mount adapter will be a great resource for those willing to manually focus, or those who are looking at heavily using the NX10 as a video camera.
The electronic viewfinder on the NX10 is pretty spiffy as well. It will automatically turn on when you put your eye up to it. As you might expect, the AMOLED shuts off when the viewfinder comes on. It feels like you’re looking through a DSLR viewfinder – again, drawing comparisons to the Panasonic GH1.
The video looks very pretty on the NX10′s viewfinder; however, I’ll reserve final judgment on video and image quality until I get hands on a production unit and put it through some real world use. That said, if the rest of the evaluation points shape up to be on par with what I’ve seen so far, then I think Samsung may have a real contender on its hands. As long as the camera receives the right price point, it looks to have a promising future and serve as a solid start for the NX-Series.
With PMA coming next month, expect to hear more about the NX10 soon and, hopefully, some more details about what else will be showing up in the NX-Series in the future.
Update 1/9/10: It looks like B&H has the NX10 listed at $699; however, there’s no indication as to whether it includes a lens at that price point. Note that this is only a listing and that B&H is not taking orders as of 1/9/10, nor does B&H provide a shipping date.