Samsung has jumped into the not-quite-SLR maelstrom. But can the NX10's bigger sensor help it to float?
The Samsung NX10 is the latest attempt to compete with the Micro Four Thirds brigade from Panasonic and Olympus. Its body is similarly compact but houses a 14.6MP, DSLR-size APS-C sensor.
Add to that 720p HD movies, an eye-level VGA resolution viewfinder and a 3in OLED screen, and you have a promising snapping recipe.
The NX10’s DSLR-cred gets a boost from the fact that it’s possible to change lenses, just like on a conventional DSLR camera. So, included with the package is an 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens but if you wanted to add other options, such as a Samsung 30mm f2 lens (£200), then at least you have the choice.
Micro Four Third cameras use a standard Four Thirds sensor but remove the through-the-lens optical viewfinder (the bit that makes an SLR an SLR), so the body can be smaller and thinner.
The Samsung NX10 takes the same approach, but using the larger APS-C-size sensor should theoretically capture better images – a larger surface area means more sensitivity to light – but in return needs bigger lenses.
The "proper" SLR styling and electronic viewfinder do perhaps make the NX10 look chunkier than it is, but the size is certainly similar to that of the Panasonic GF1 and Olympus PEN E-P2. The main difference is that it's actually comfortable to hold.
There are some very nice touches, such as a memory card slot on the side, rather than hidden in along with the battery. The sharp viewfinder automatically turns on (and the main LCD turns off) when you put your eye to it, and is much neater than the add-on extras needed by the GF1 and PEN series.
The bigger sensor does mean slightly bigger lenses, but the 18-55mm kit lens won't really take up more room in your bag than the standard Olympus and Panasonic jobbies, and autofocus is super-snappy – a little quicker than the Panny's and certainly less shuffly than the Olly's.
Image quality from the APS-C sensor is very good. Perhaps it’s not as detailed as we'd like, but with very realistic colours and decent low-light performance. Sadly, there's no built-in image stabiliser - there's OIS built into most of the available lenses.
When it comes to competition, the Panasonic GF1 steals the Olympus E-P1’s thunder, coming in with a better performance and a built-in flash. It’s also a little dinkier than the NX10, but lacks its spot-on viewfinder – so if this is high on your camera wishlist, Samsung’s newbie is definitely worth an audition.
Samsung NX10 review
A sober but dinky almost-SLR offering excellent performance. A worthwhile alternative to the Micro Four Thirds crew
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