Samsung NX10 User Report By Shawn Barnett
The third entrant into the Single-lens Direct-view (SLD) category of small, interchangeable lens digital cameras comes to the party with a fairly complete set of optics, and an excellent design aesthetic, both inside and out. The Samsung NX10's 14.6-megapixel sensor puts it ahead of its current SLD rivals in the megapixel department, and a 3-inch AMOLED display puts it ahead in the acronym department. Overall design is elegant and well-thought-out. With the 18-55mm kit lens, the Samsung NX10 weighs 21.5 ounces (1.3 pounds, 610g) with card and battery, and without the lens it weighs 14.5 ounces (0.9 pounds, 411g). For comparison, with the 30mm pancake lens -- as pictured at right -- the Samsung NX10 weighs 17.4 ounces (1.09 pounds, 493g) with card and battery, while the E-P1 with its 17mm pancake lens weighs 16.01 ounces (1.0 pound, 454g) with card and battery. Look and feel. The Samsung NX10 manages to look like an SLR, like the Panasonic G1, without being quite as large. While the G1 has a larger grip, the NX10's grip is small, yet still functional. Because it's smaller, it cuts a more narrow profile, much like its other rival, the flatter Olympus E-P1. The Samsung NX10 still has a viewfinder hump, but that's not as tall overall as the E-P2 is with either of its optional optical viewfinders. As such, the Samsung NX10 splits the difference between its two SLD rivals. The Samsung NX10's body is dense and hefty, with a rock-solid feel. The finish is also very good, with a refined texture. What the grip lacks in depth, it makes up for with width: just enough for the pads of your fingertips to find a comfortable home as you press the camera into your palm. Your thumb, likewise, finds a perfect home on the rear, where a textured rubber grip sits to assist your hold on the camera. It's all just right for the size and weight of the camera. With the 30mm lens mounted, the weight is set a little to the left of center, but that's understandable, and really helps push the camera snugly into your palm. Mount a heavier lens, and the effect increases; you shouldn't shoot one of these one-handed too often anyway, so it's not a problem. The shutter button has a nice forward cant to it, resting as it does out on an overhang that protrudes further than the grip itself. Just right of that is an AF-assist lamp that glows a very bright green and projects quite a long distance. Straight below that is the Depth-of-field preview button, a nice touch. And of course the lens release button appears right of the lens, where it is on most SLRs. Three small holes appear beneath the NX10 logo for the microphone. There is no external mic jack, which limits the NX10's usefulness for movie making.
From the top, you see the flash popup button with seven holes for the speaker. The flash doesn't pop up very high, but exposure is wellcontrolled. The hot shoe has a slide-in plastic cover. The NX10's Mode dial has just the right balance of tension and slack that it is more likely to either stay put or quickly click to the next setting, rather than resting in-between. The Power switch that surrounds the shutter button is difficult to activate, but is less likely to activate accidentally. I like the Control dial and use it often when in semiauto modes. The last two controls are odd. The green dot button works the same as it did on the Samsung and Pentax SLRs, recentering most settings, including Program shift or EV setting. Think of it as a quick way of getting back to zero without a lot of fuss. The button behind it controls Drive mode. Both buttons also zoom in and out, as the blue icons indicate. It's a little unusual at first, but it's pretty obvious zooming in on the image with the front, and out with the back. Menus Kudos, too, for the well-designed Menu and Function menu. The main menu (shown to the right) is very much like everyone else's menu. Following the leadership of some other recent designs, you move up and down each menu page with the up and down arrows, and move between tabs at any time with the left and right arrows. No matter where you are on each list vertically, you can always go to the next menu page; and the Samsung NX10 has the courtesy to remember which vertical item you had selected last.
The Samsung NX10 flash exposure system works better than the Olympus E-PL1, throttling back well for near portraits, while the E-PL1 tends to blow out faces even further out. The Samsung NX10's flash range is excellent, good from about six feet to 12 feet in our standard ISO 100 testing, but it also continued to look reasonably good out to 16 feet at wide-angle. At telephoto, though, with the 18-55mm kit lens, the flash was slightly dim at six feet and got dimmer, yet it really wasn't a bad performer at all, especially considering its size. Samsung currently offers two flash units for the NX10, the SEF 42A and the SEF 20A. The SEF 42A is a larger unit that has a guide number of 42, covers a range of 28-105mm, includes an AF illuminator, and uses 4 AA batteries, retailing for around $299. The SEF 20A is smaller, has a guide number of 20, uses two AA batteries, and retails for $149 -- if you can find it. The pinout on the hot shoe seems different enough that I don't think Pentax flashes will work with the Samsung NX10. Exposure modes The Samsung NX10 has a small mode dial with fewer settings than average, though more than its SLD rivals. Full Manual, Program, and semi-auto modes are present, as are Night, Portrait, and Landscape Scene modes. The nine additional Scene modes are available on the SCENE setting, and Movie mode also has its place on the dial. Smart Auto, the final setting, analyses the scene and selects from among 16 scenarios; more than the actual Scene modes available.