Samsung NX10 Review

The Samsung NX10 is 14.6-megapixel camera offering an interchangeable lens design.  The NX10 follows the Micro Four Thirds system from Olympus and Panasonic as a DSLR-like design without a bulky mirror and optical viewfinder.  The NX10 uses a larger APS-C format sensor (with a 1.6x crop factor) as opposed to the Micro Four Thirds cameras (with smaller, 2x crop factor sensors).

The Samsung NX10 does a lot of things right in both form and function.  To see how it stacks up against the competition, read on.

Samsung NX10 Key Features

  • 14.6MP CMOS Sensor
  • ISO 100-3200
  • 3″ AMOLED Dispaly
  • 921k-dot Resolution Electronic Viewfinder
  • 720p HD Video Capture
  • RAW Image Capture

Samsung NX10 Handling, Ergonomics and Control

The Samsung NX10 looks and feels a lot like an entry-level DSLR.  Instead of going with the retro-styling of the Olympus PEN cameras, Samsung has opted to keep it traditional with its first round of mirrorless cameras.  And, it works pretty darn well.

Where the NX10 differs from DSLRs, however, is in its thickness.  Because there’s no mirror inside the NX10 body, Samsung was able to design the NX10 as a much thinner camera.  This thinner design plays well into the camera’s overall handling and ergonomics.

The more traditional grip on the right side of the NX10 fits quite well in the hand.  There’s a nice little groove on the inside of the grip where you can rest your fingertips for some extra hold on the camera.  On the rear of the camera is a comfortable pad for resting your thumb, which allows you to squeeze the camera in your right hand for a firm clasp on the NX10.

The NX10 keeps the goods rolling with a well-designed control set and menu system.  The buttons and controls are very DSLR-like.  While DSLR users will feel comfortable with this setup, novice users may feel a little overwhelmed with the sheer number of controls on the exterior of the camera.  Although, it’s possible to leave the NX10 in a full auto mode and let the camera make all the decisions concerning exposure and focus settings.

A mode dial atop the camera gives you quick access to the main shooting modes of the NX10.  As you would expect, you can select from modes such as Smart Auto, Program Auto, Shutter Speed Priority, Aperture Priority, and Manual.  The NX10′s Smart Auto Mode works much like popular point and shoot modes by evaluating the scene at hand and selecting from several pre-programmed scene modes.  Most of the time this works pretty well, and for those who need to use this mode, it will definitely help the camera feel more like a point and shoot.

Also available for quick access on the mode dial are Night Mode, Portrait Mode, Landscape Mode, Scene Mode, and Movie Mode.  Scene Mode gives you access to manually select the appropriate scene preset for your shot.  These Scene Mode selections are made by pressing the Fn button on the rear of the camera, which brings up the various modes on the display with some pretty graphics.  Available Scene Modes to choose from include: Children, Close-up, Text, Sunset, Dawn, Backlight, Fireworks, Beach & Snow, and Beauty Shot.

Next to the mode dial is a scroll wheel, which aids in menu navigation and adjustments to controls, such as aperture, shutter and exposure settings.  It works and feels much like the scroll wheel on entry-level DSLRs, such as the Canon Rebel series.

To the right, and just behind the scroll wheel, are a pair of buttons that double as zoom-in/out in preview mode, and reset and drive settings when shooting.  The button with the green dot allows you to reset certain settings to the default settings, such as custom while balance and exposure compensation.

On the left-top of the camera is a button that activates the pop-up flash, along with a Menu button.  The Menu button opens up the exhaustive menu settings that will look familiar to Canon DSLR users – with tabs along the top and a number of menu settings under each tab category.

The rest of the NX10′s controls can be found on the rear of the camera.  You get access to a number of quick settings through the Function button, which is in easy reach of your thumb.  Other quick access buttons include a display toggle, exposure compensation, auto exposure lock, image preview and image delete.

A 4-way control dial is situated below the Fn button and provides one-touch controls to AF, metering, white balance and ISO settings.  The 4-way control button doubles as a menu navigation tool by moving up, down, left, and right.

Also on the rear of the NX10, you’ll find the very pretty 3″ AMOLED screen.  While there are higher resolution displays, the 614,000 dot resolution looks very nice.  The menu system is very pretty, which is something that Samsung has done well on many of its recent cameras.  The other viewing option is the 921,000 dot resolution electronic viewfinder, which does a decent job as far as electronic viewfinders go; however, it is not very useful in low-light situations.

Shooting with the Samsung NX10

The Samsung NX10 is a pleasure to use.  It has surprisingly fast autofocus for a camera that uses a contrast detection method.  It’s on par with the Panasonic Micro Four Thirds cameras that I’ve used and blows the Olympus PEN series out of the water in terms of AF speed.  Even in lower light situations where the Olympus PEN cameras tend to really struggle, the NX10 was quick and reliable most of the time.

As alluded to earlier, the AMOLED is pretty.  Live view with this screen works very well.  The NX10 provides good feedback on the display of what your final exposure will look like, which is another big advantage of using a mirrorless camera – what you see is what you get.  If you make adjustments to the aperture, shutter or ISO, you can see it real time.

Video capture on the NX10 is a little sub-par.  Even though you are shooting 720p video, the NX10 suffers from what’s probably the worst rolling shutter “jello” effect of any other mirrorless or DSLR camera.  Additionally, the resulting video produced from the NX10 is just not up to snuff.  You can produce some ok sequences with the NX10; however, don’t think that enthusiast and pro cinematographers are going to using the NX10 for serious projects.

Additionally, I found the image stabilization in the kit lens to be less than stellar.  I doesn’t rival what Panasonic is doing with its mirrorless cameras.  And, for that matter, Olympus’ PEN cameras with sensor-based image stabilization seemed like they were better.  Of course, I’m basing this impression solely on my experience with each camera, and didn’t perform any side-by-side tests.

Samsung NX10 Image Quality

The NX10 certainly takes advantage of the larger APS-C sensor when it comes to producing solid images. Overall, the NX10 offers some of the best, if not the best, image quality as compared to other mirrorless cameras.  While the NX10 doesn’t quite measure up to the best entry-level DSLRs, casual users who aren’t looking for pro-performance out the camera will be more than satisfied with the resulting images from the camera.

Among the mirrorless camera crowd, the NX10 has solid noise control throughout the ISO range.  While it gets a bit messy at higher ISO settings, the NX10 will still deliver usable images throughout the ISO range.

Below is a quick comparison of the same scene captured with the Samsung NX10 and the Canon Rebel T2i.  The cropped chart shows a 100% view of the images and, as a result, the image noise and grain is magnified well beyond normal viewing circumstances.

Feel free to download any of these sample images for your personal inspection (not for republication).  You can download the full size images by right-clicking on the links below and choosing “Save link as…”

Samsung NX10 ISO 100
Samsung NX10 ISO 200
Samsung NX10 ISO 400
Samsung NX10 ISO 800
Samsung NX10 ISO 1600
Samsung NX10 ISO 3200

Canon Rebel T2i ISO 100
Canon Rebel T2i ISO 200
Canon Rebel T2i ISO 400
Canon Rebel T2i ISO 800
Canon Rebel T2i ISO 1600
Canon Rebel T2i ISO 3200

Below you will find a few more sample images captured with the Samsung NX10 during my review of the NX10. I have noted the basic shot info below each image. Feel free to download any of these sample images for your personal inspection (again, not for republication). You can get the original files by right-clicking on any of the images and choosing “Save link as…”


ISO 100 – f/11 – 1/180s


ISO 800 – f/8 – 1/2500s


ISO 800  – f/8 – 1/2500s


ISO 800 – f/5.6 – 1/15s


ISO 120 – f/5.6 – 1/45s

Samsung NX10 Accessories

Samsung 30mm f/2 Pancake

Available Lenses – At the time of this review, there are three lenses available for the Samsung NX10: the 18-55mm stabilized kit lens, a 50-200mm telephoto lens and a 30mm f/2 pancake, fast prime lens.  Samsung has announced five additional lenses that should be available later in 2010: an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 standard zoom, a 20mm f/2.8 pancake, a 60mm f/2.7 macro, a 20-50mm f/3.5-5.6 compact zoom, and an 18-200mm OIS f/3.5-6.3 superzoom lens.

Samsung SEF-42A and SEF-20A Hot Shoe Flashes – These two flashes are set to be available for the Samsung NX10, which will work as TTL flashes when attached to the NX10′s hot shoe.

BP1310 Rechargeable Battery – The Samsung NX10 comes with one of these rechargeable lithium-ion batteries; however, if you’re going to be away from power for an extended period, you can pick up spares.

Memory cards – I’ve used the basic Kingston SD cards in the NX10, which worked just fine. No need to go all out on fast memory cards with the NX10. Cheap cards from reputable brands will work just fine. The NX10 is compatible with all SD and SDHC cards – but not SDXC cards.

Memory card reader – If you don’t own a memory card reader, they make transferring images to your computer a world faster. I highly recommend picking one up with the NX10. They’re cheap and big time saver. Lexar makes a good card reader for about $15.

Conclusions

The NX10 is a great first effort for Samsung’s entry into the mirrorless camera market.  There are so many features that make the NX10 a pleasant camera to operate.  There’s no doubt that the NX10 is a user-friendly camera.  And, what’s more, is that it takes pretty good photos.  While the video quality leaves something to be desired, the core of the camera (as a still image camera) is solid.  If point and shoot convenience and DSLR-ish image quality are your key concerns, chances are that that NX10 will serve you well.

The Samsung NX10 is available from Photography Bay’s trusted retail partner, B&H Photo, at the following link:

Samsung NX10 at B&H Photo

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