By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla
Samsung’s NX10 hybrid camera is one of the most exciting interchangeable lens EVF (Electronic View Finder) cameras in the market today. It has the power and versatility of a DSLR without the bulk plus it offers a lot of the conveniences of a point-and-shoot as well as the ability to record HD video at 720P resolution.
Together with Olympus and its Digital PEN line, Panasonic and its G1, G2, GF1 and GH1 cameras and Sony with its upcoming NEX 3 and NEX 5 compact cameras, Samsung is betting big on the next gen hybrid camera party. These smaller cameras and lenses are challenging the older, bulkier DSLR cameras
What quickly sets the Samsung NX10 apart form the other non-DSLR hybrid cameras is that it uses a full sized APS-C sensor which is the same as those found in regular DSLR which are twice the size and weight. The APS-C is significantly bigger than the Four-Thirds Sensors found in the Olympus and Panasonic lines. Larger sensors mean more photographic information for clearer, more accurate and larger photos.
The Samsung NX10 is exceptionally well designed and fabricated. It feels solid and with all the controls in all the right places. Despite a smaller footprint and a reduced grip, the camera feels balanced even for one-handed operation. You also get a pop-up flash on top of the camera, an HDMI port for playing back photos and videos on an HDTV screen, and a supersonic dust-removal system for the APS-C sensor. Battery life is good for 600 shots.
Let’s just say this early on, this Samsung NX10 feels and operates like well-designed and meticulously built camera. It certainly feels more solid and rugged than Panasonic’s similarly styled GH1, which cost $1000 more.
The included lens, while completely made out of plastic except for the glass lens elements, feels a little cheap but this isn’t uncommon. The kit lens that ships with the Olympus E-PL1 is similarly scaled down in quality. Maybe this was done to keep weight down but we still feel metal mounts should be standard.
Anyone questioning the pedigree of Samsung in the camera space needs to know that they collaborated heavily with Pentax in the design and development. Sadly, the mount of the Samsung NX10 is the proprietary NX mount instead of Pentax K-mount.
This may prove problematic for users who want to go beyond the18-55 kit lens the camera ships with. Sure, adaptors probably be bought but you lose autofocus which can be troublesome. So consider your lens needs and whether this system will meet them anytime soon.
Currently the Samsung NX10 can be used with a 30mm pancake prime, a 50-200mm zoom and the kit 18-55 lens that is stabilized.
Shooting with the Samsung NX10 on a clear day is a real treat. We’re not big fans looking through the rear LCDs of cameras and prefer to use the viewfinder. Well the AMOLED LCD of the NX10 is bright, clear and superior to what we’ve seen in any digital camera out today. AMOLED is new and expensive technology but Samsung developed a lot of it and has smartly integrated it into this product.
The EVF (Electronic View Finder) is also superb, far better than what we’re used to in this form factor. The result is a small and capable camera that works a lot like a DLSR.
One thing to get used to with these new hybrid cameras is that the autofocus speed is slower than DSLR which means you really need to have steady hands or use a tripod to shoot moving subjects or in low light.
For street photography on a bright spring day, the Samsung NX10 produced accurately coloured and well-exposed photos that looked simply amazing. We even shot in a ravine by a small stream and the camera managed accuracy even with the varied light conditions and moving leaves and shadows.
For action photography, the multi-shot drive mode was reasonably quick and Samsung promises 4.5fps performance.
As with most cameras, we suggest customers try before they buy. Cameras, after all, are tools and everyone has different expectations. We would definitely consider the Samsung NX10 as an option over a traditional DSLR but would think twice if our lens requirements exceed those that Samsung offers.
For new photographers not invested in any lens or camera system, the Samsung NX10 looks like a promising option provided size and portability are key requirements.
The NX10 will launch in Canada on June 25, and will retail for $800, including an image-stabilized 18-55mm standard-zoom lens.
Rating: 4 out of 5