Samsung NX10 review

An impressive first stab at a brand new camera system. Not quite as polished as Panasonic’s G-series, but not as expensive either

19 Apr 2010
Samsung NX10 with 18-55 OIS lens
Our Rating 
4/5
Price when reviewed 
480
inc VAT

Specifications

23.4x15.6mm 14.0-megapixel sensor, 3.0x zoom (27-82.5mm equivalent), 353g

Last year’s arrival of Micro Four Thirds, a new camera system developed by Panasonic and Olympus, blurred the distinction between compact and SLR camera designs. These cameras use interchangeable lenses and big SLR-style sensors but lack optical viewfinders, allowing them to be smaller than SLRs. It hasn’t taken long for other manufacturers to follow suit. The first of the rival systems coming from Samsung.

The NX10 introduces a new lens mount, Samsung NX, and uses an APS-C sensor – the same size that’s used in most consumer digital SLRs. Its handgrip and viewfinder hump make it a little bulkier than the smallest Micro Four Thirds cameras, but the grip feels reassuringly secure to hold. The 18-55mm kit lens means this isn’t a pocket sized camera, but there are already two other Samsung NX lenses available: a 30mm f/2 pancake and a 50-200mm telephoto. With the 30mm lens fitted, the NX10 is compact enough to carry around all day.

There’s an electronic viewfinder (EVF) but it’s not as impressive as the one on the Panasonic G1: it’s smaller, it lacks contrast and the insubstantial rubber surround failed to cut out light, making it tricky to use in sunlight. The 3in AMOLED screen is superb, thankfully, practically making the EVF redundant.

Viewfinder aside, the NX10 feels like an SLR in use. There are plenty of buttons and a command dial for quick access to settings. Advanced functions such as bracketing and RAW capture are in place, although there’s not the degree of operational customisation offered by SLRs. It’s also tricky to focus manually with complete confidence, as the on-screen digital magnification isn’t powerful enough. Performance is generally excellent, with fast autofocus and a 2.8fps continuous mode, but there’s a slight delay between taking a shot and being able to adjust settings. In RAW mode, this turns into a big delay.

Image quality comfortably lived up to SLR standards. Details were crisp and smooth, and although the kit lens suffered from distortions, its focus was generally up to scratch. We also tested the 30mm lens, which was distortion-free and extremely sharp. Colours had a subtle hint of warmth that’s reminiscent of Nikon DSLRs, and flattered most subjects. Automatic exposure modes were well balanced, although slow ISO and shutter speeds sometimes resulted in blurred shots in low light – the lens’s stabilisation performed adequately but not as well as rival systems. Noise wasn’t as low as with the best APS-C SLRs, being on a par with Micro Four Thirds cameras.

Video is recorded at 720p and 24fps in AVC format. As with many SLRs’ video modes, continuous autofocus is unavailable during recording, and the big sensor’s narrow depth of field meant moving subjects or camera positions often resulted in out-of-focus shots. That’s annoying for casual use but potentially useful for creative projects. Creative users will also appreciate the ability to lock the exposure. However, videos suffered badly from rolling shutter, which limits its appeal as a serious video tool.

The NX10 doesn’t break new ground compared to Micro Four Thirds cameras but it’s competitively priced. Its features are closest to the recently announced Panasonic G10, which is due to sell for around £500. Meanwhile, Samsung’s lenses significantly undercut Panasonic’s. The 30mm lens costs around £200, while Panasonic’s roughly equivalent 20mm f/1.7 lens costs £300. The NX10 with both 18-55mm and 30mm lenses is available from Jessops for £599.

These prices are expensive compared to larger SLRs such as the Canon EOS 1000D, though, and neither Samsung’s nor Panasonic’s lens ranges can compete on price or breadth with Canon’s. There’s also a risk that further Samsung NX lenses may be few and far between – something that seems less likely with the more established Micro Four Thirds system. However, when paired with its 30mm lens, the NX10 delivers an excellent balance of quality, portability and value. On that basis, the future looks promising for the NX system.

Basic Specifications

Rating ****
CCD effective megapixels 14.0 megapixels
CCD size 23.4x15.6mm
Viewfinder electronic, VGA resolution
Viewfinder magnification, coverage 0.86x, 100%
LCD screen size 3.0in
LCD screen resolution 614,000 pixels
Articulated screen No
Live view Yes
Optical zoom 3.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent 27-82.5mm
Image stabilisation optical, lens based
Maximum image resolution 4,592x3,056
Maximum movie resolution 1280x720
Movie frame rate at max quality 30fps
File formats JPEG, RAW; MP4 (AVC)

Physical

Memory slot SDHC
Mermory supplied none
Battery type Li-ion
Battery Life (tested) 400 shots
Connectivity USB, AV, mini HDMI, DC in, remote
HDMI output resolution 1080i
Body material plastic
Lens mount Samsung NX
Focal length multiplier 1.5x
Kit lens model name EX-S1855SB
Accessories USB and AV cables
Weight 353g
Size 87x123x122mm

Buying Information

Warranty one-year RTB
Price £480
Supplier http://www.amazon.co.uk
Details www.samsung.com/uk

Camera Controls

Exposure modes program, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed 30 to 1/4,000 seconds
Aperture range f/3.5-22 (wide), f/5.6-22 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution) 100 to 3200
Exposure compensation +/-3 EV
White balance auto, 7 presets, manual, custom
Additional image controls contrast, saturation, sharpness, colour, colour space, dynamic range
Manual focus Yes
Closest macro focus 28cm
Auto-focus modes multi, centre, spot, face detect
Metering modes multi, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flash auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, rear curtain red-eye reduction
Drive modes single, continuous, self-timer, AE bracket, WB bracket, Picture Wizard bracket