Hands on with Samsung's NX10 interchangeable lens camera

We go hands on with Samsung's NX10 interchangeable lens camera at the UK launch in London.

22 Jan 2010

Samsung's newly announced NX10 mirrorless interchangeable lens camera wraps a 14.6 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor (1.5x crop factor) and eye-level electronic viewfinder with a 640x480 resolution into a relatively small body measuring just 122x86x41mm without a lens attached. We managed to spend some time with a couple of NX10 bodies with pre-release firmware and all three lenses at the UK launch in London.

Samsung said that it hopes to have the camera on sale in a month or two and is ironing out the final bugs in the firmware before it goes on sale at an estimated £599 inc VAT for the NX10 with the standard 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OIS lens - other versions will be available with the 30mm F2.0 pancake and 50-200 F4.0-5.6 ED OIS lenses.

Samsung said the NX10 is designed for those who don't want the bulk of a dSLR, but want more freedom than you'll ever get from a compact camera - that's how Panasonic and Olympus sell their Micro Four Thirds cameras. As Samsung put it, the NX10 is for "wannabe" photographers and the company expects this market to see massive growth this year.

Samsung NX10

Despite being an entirely new system with very little in the way of moving parts, the NX10 maintains that air of familiarity and looks very much like a dSLR on a diet. It's surprisingly small in your hand (not much larger than the Olympus EP-1) and the controls feel familiar, but the NX10 has the added benefit of a proper handgrip with a non-slip rubber coating. Admittedly, it's a little small if you regularly use a dSLR, but it still feels comfortable and well balanced with all three of the lenses attached.

The 3in AMOLED screen is undoubtedly the highlight of the camera, but what disappointed us was that there's no way to turn the rear screen's Live View mode off and use it as more of a control panel, leaving the electronic viewfinder for previewing and framing photos. Instead, the electronic viewfinder is activated (and the rear display disabled) when you move your eye up to the eyepiece.

Along the bottom of the display, there's a faux SLR viewfinder strip detailing basic shooting information (shooting mode, shutter speed, aperture, etc). You can also customise the display so that additional information which appears on the right and left hand edges, but it can get a little busy if you turn everything on.

Samsung NX10

Using the first of the two bodies, we were quite disappointed with the NX10's image quality at anything above ISO 800 (the event was held in the evening in a poorly-lit bar), but this was found to be using a much earlier firmware version than the current one Samsung is testing. We switched to a second body and noise at higher ISOs (up to ISO 1600) was much better controlled with very little in the way of banding; colour saturation didn't really suffer either like it can do on some cameras at higher ISOs.

Image sharpness was also pretty good and we were particularly impressed with how well the 30mm F2.0 pancake lens performed. The two zoom lenses weren't as impressive, but they were certainly adequate for their intended market. We can see the extremely compact 30mm pancake lens being very popular with enthusiasts looking for a relatively compact camera with dSLR-like capabilities if the NX10 lives up to its potential when it's released.

Overall, it's a promising start for Samsung in a new market segment, but we're going to have to reserve our final judgement until we've spent more time with a production NX10 body. We'll bring you a full review as soon as we can.

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