Samsung NX10 User Report

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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
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 well-
                                               controlled. 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 semi-
                                               auto 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.


                                          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.

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Description: 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.