With the NX10, Samsung introduces an interchangeable lens camera format that, like Micro Four Thirds, does away with the mirror assembly used in SLRs. What Samsung has done differently from the Micro Four Thirds cameras offered by Olympus and Panasonic, though, is retain the APS-C size sensor used in most digital SLRs, instead of the smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor, which is prone to higher image noise. They're also introducing a new lens format, which means limited choices for the near future, at least.

Without a mirror, you don't have an optical viewfinder. That means you line up your shots in Live View with the impressive 3-inch AMOLED display on the back, or use the electronic viewfinder for eye-level shooting. It also means the camera can be thinner than an SLR – the NX10 body is just 1.57 inches (39.8mm) deep. (The overall dimensions are 4.23 x 3.43 x 1.57 inches, 12.3 oz. /123 x 87 x 39.8mm, 353g).

Front


SAMSUNG-NX10-front.jpg

Back


SAMSUNG-NX10-back.jpg

Sides


SAMSUNG-NX10-sides.jpg

Bottom


SAMSUNG-NX10-bottom.jpg

Top


SAMSUNG-NX10-top.jpg

** Size Comparisons **


**In the Box **


SAMSUNG-NX10-boxshot.jpg

• Camera with body cap

• 18-55mm lens with lens cap, rear cap and lens shield

• Lithium-ion battery

• Battery charger

• Quick Start guide

• CD-ROM with software and full user manual

• USB cable

The camera kit doesn't include a standard-definition AV output cable, an unfortunate omission..

**Color Accuracy ***(9.07) *


The NX10 performed adequately in our tests of color accuracy, but the results were not outstanding. We test color accuracy by shooting an X-Rite color chart under studio lighting and analyzing the photos using Imatest software to determine how accurately the camera captured the range of colors that this chart contains. We found that the most accurate color was captured in the Standard color mode, but this had a few issues.

Although all of the colors were mostly accurately captured, we found that they were all overly saturated, making them look deeper than they are. This is particularly evident with the pale blues and oranges, which come out looking more like cartoon colors than the subtle originals. This will make your flowers look bright, but it might also mean that you miss some of the natural colors that make them look real. Fortunately, the color modes can be adjusted, and the results of your tweaking saved as custom settings. Click here for more on how we test color.

NOTE: Because of the way computer monitors reproduce colors, the images above do not exactly match the originals found on the chart or in the captured images. The chart should be used to judge the relative color shift, not the absolute captured colors. 

Compared to other cameras, the color accuracy of the NX10 was disappointing: with more deviation from the true hues than the Pentax K-x and the Panasonic GF1, and far worse than the Olympus E-P1.

Color Modes*(5.00)*


The NX 10 offers nine color modes, called picture wizards: Standard, Vivid, Portrait, Landscape, Forest, Retro, Cool, Calm and Classic. You can see examples of six of these modes below, and the complete range in the Picture Effects section. Most of the effects do what you would expect, with Retro producing a look that mirrors old film prints and Classic producing black and white images. Each picture wizard can be adjusted for color, saturation, sharpness and contrast. As for the oddball name, suffice it to say we would have gone a different way.

NOTE: Because of the way computer monitors reproduce colors, the images above do not exactly match the originals found on the chart or in the captured images. The chart should be used to judge the relative color shift, not the absolute captured colors.

Long Exposure*(11.06)*


The Samsung NX10 performed well in our long exposure test, which looks at both noise levels and color error when shooting at shutter speeds ranging from 1 second to 30 seconds. We shoot with and without the camera's long exposure noise reduction processing.  Click here for more on how we test long exposure.

Color error was quite low, and basically unaffected by either the length of the exposure or the presence or absence of long exposure noise reduction processing.  As for image noise, the results are impressive, with noise levels below 0.75% across the board with noise reduction turned off. Using long exposure noise reduction had a limited effect, and hurt the level of fine detail. 

In our comparison group, the NX10 scored slightly lower than the Nikon D5000 here, which had more accurate color reproduction but slightly higher noise. The Micro Four Thirds cameras suffered here primarily due to high image noise levels.

Noise*(7.01)*


One of the major issues with the Four Thirds sensor format, used in both Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds cameras, is noise. These sensors are roughly 50% smaller than the APS-C format sensor used in most DSLRs, but with about the same megapixel count. And squeezing lots of megapixels into a smaller area means these cameras are prone to image noise problems. Samsung claims this difference as a key advantage for the NX format, which maintains the APS-C-size sensor in a relatively compact camera. In our lab testing, we found that the NX10 did produce less noisy images than the Micro Four Thirds cameras, but there's a catch: other SLRs we've tested with APS-C sized sensors had lower noise than the Samsung. Click here for more on how we test noise.

Our first test looks at how the noise level rises as the ISO is increased, with noise reduction both on and off (unlike many other cameras, the NX10 offers only a single level of high ISO noise reduction). Also unusual is the fact that noise reduction is only available at the ISO 3200 level, despite the spike in image noise after ISO 800.

We also found that the different color channels have a very similar pattern of noise; there is not one color that is contributing more significantly to the noise in the images than the other. 

If we compare noise levels between cameras with noise reduction turned off (or set to its lowest setting), we see that the NX10 does very well; the amount of noise in the images is consistently equal to or lower than all of the other cameras, and clearly superior to the Micro Four Thirds cameras: the GF1 and E-P1 have very high noise levels here. This means that if you like to shoot with noise reduction off, to maximize image detail, the NX10 will serve you well.

 

If we compare the cameras with noise reduction set to maximum, the situation is a little different. In this case, the very aggressive noise reduction used by the GF1 and E-P1 brings the noise level down significantly, so the differences are much less pronounced. The NX10 still has lower noise, but the margin is reduced, and the Nikon D5000 has a lower noise at all ISO levels above 400.

Our overall conclusion is that the NX10 produces images with less noise than the Micro Four Thirds cameras, but that there is still a fair amount of image noise at high ISOs.

ISO*(6.00)*


The NX10 has an ISO range of 100 up to 3200, all at the full resolution of the camera. There is also an Auto ISO setting, which unfortunately doesn't provide a user setting for maximum acceptable ISO level, a feature found on many other cameras.

There are only two settings for high ISO  noise reduction: on and off. Some other cameras offer multiple levels of noise reduction, but Samsung decided not to bother with that sort of fancy stuff here. Below are 100 per cent crops of our still life taken at all of the ISO levels that the camera supports, along with samples taken under the same conditions using our comparison cameras. 

*NOTE: The images above are not used in our testing or scoring, but are included here to show real-world examples of the differences between cameras at the various ISO settings.

*

Resolution*(12.28)*


We were impressed with our tests on the resolution of the images that the NX10 captures; we found that they were sharp and had only a small amount of chromatic aberration. We did find that the 18-55mm lens that comes bundled with the camera has a fair amount of distortion, though. Click here for more on how we test resolution.

Distortion

Because interchangeable lens cameras like the NX10 can swap lenses like Paris Hilton swaps shoes, we don't include the distortion that the lens adds to the image in our scoring. But we do test it, as many people only use the lens that comes with the camera. The NX10 came with an 18-55mm lens that we found had moderate distortion, going from 1.78 percent barrel distortion at the telephoto end to 3.11 percent pincushion distortion at the wide angle end of the range. What this basically means is that straight lines will be squeezed inwards at the telephoto end of the zoom range and outwards at the wide end, as you can see in the examples below, which are taken from the bottom of our test chart.

Chromatic Aberration (8.69)

We saw only slight chromatic aberration from the 18-55mm kit lens. Especially at the wide and mid points of the zoom range, this was low enough that it would not be visible most of the time. We did see some more aberration at the telephoto end of the zoom range, especially at the edges of the frame with the aperture wide open at the maximum f/5.6 setting. But again, this was lower than many of the kit lenses that we have tested with SLRs before.

Sharpness (13.82)

We were favorably impressed with the sharpness of the images that the NX10 captured, across both the zoom and aperture range of the kit lens. The images were sharp at the center of the frame at each of the three zoom points and three aperture settings that we test. We did find that the images got a little soft at the edges of the frame with the aperture wide open, though, so we would recommend that you avoid using the wider aperture settings if possible.

At the widest zoom setting, the images are equally sharp across the frame and across the aperture range, although there is some slight loss of sharpness at the widest aperture setting. 

At the middle of the zoom range, the sharpness of the image is still pretty consistent, although the sharpness does fall off significantly at the widest aperture setting. Overall, still a strong performance here.

At the longest zoom setting, the sharpness of the images falls off a bit. Especially at the widest zoom setting; the blocks at the edge of the frame are significantly softer than the one in the middle of the frame.

Resolution is an area where the Micro Four Thirds cameras scored particularly well, but the Samsung NX10 still achieved a slim win here, and fared much better than the disappointing Nikon D5000.

Picture Quality & Size Options*(10.62)*


The NX10 offers four image size options when shooting JPEGs in the 3:2 aspect ratio, and another four sizes in 16:9 mode. There is also a 1.4-megapixel size used only in reduced-resolution burst mode.

There are three JPEG compression settings, Super Fine, Fine and Normal. RAW file shooting is supported, either alone or paired with a JPEG at any of the three available compression settings.

Dynamic Range*(5.73)*


Our dynamic range testing did not go well for the NX10. Here we're testing the camera's ability to maintain detail in both bright and dark areas of a high-contrast scene. The dynamic range inevitably decreases as ISO levels increase, but the NX10 displayed mediocre results even at the ISO 100 and 200 levels, and faded from there. The only bright spot for Samsung here: the Micro Four Thirds cameras fared even worse. Click here for more on how we test dynamic range.

Comparing cameras at the ISO 200 level,  we find the NX10 with a 5.62-stop range, barely ahead of the Panasonic GF1 and far behind the other APS-C cameras.

As seen in the following chart, there's a significant gap between the top performers and the also-rans in this category.

Image Stabilization*(4.46)*


The optical image stabilization system didn't make much difference, but on the plus side it improved rather than hurt sharpness at nearly every shutter speed (IS often impairs results at higher speeds).  Click here for more on how we test image stabilization.

The Samsung NX10 uses lens-based image stabilization. Of the three initially available lenses, the kit 18-55mm and the 50-200mm telephoto include stabilization, the 30mm pancake does not. Two stabilization modes are available, one which kicks in when the shutter is pressed, the other which is applied continuously. We used the first, which uses less battery power.

In our low shake testing, we found modest resolution gains at most speeds, both when the camera was moving horizontally and when it was moving vertically.

When we cranked up the level of shake to the point you might see if you were moving around while shooting, the improvement is more noticeable, particularly in the range between 1/125 second and 1/60 second.

Among our comparison cameras, only the Olympus E-P1, with its in-camera stabilization system, posted particularly strong results here, with the NX10 score about the same as the others in the group.

The following table offers representative same-size crops taken from our test images, to provide a visual demonstration of the sharpness improvement we experienced. These crops are taken from the horizontal shake testing, at both low and high shake levels.

*NOTE: As of May 2010 we have revised our image stabilization testing procedure to consider only horizontal stabilization. The scores shown here are up to date.

*

White Balance*(7.50)*


The results of our white balance testing were an odd mix. We examine performance under three light sources, daylight, incandescent and compact white fluorescent, first using the camera's automatic white balance system, then taking a custom white balance reading and testing again. With the Samsung NX10, when the system worked well, it worked exceptionally well. On the other hand.... Click here for more on how we test white balance.

Automatic White Balance (12.43)

The camera's overall score for automatic white balance is a bit skewed, since the NX10 proved strikingly accurate under compact white fluorescent lights and in daylight, and awful under incandescents (like the tungsten bulbs used in many homes).

Daylight white balance performance was far more accurate than the Pentax K-x or Panasonic GF1.

Shots taken with the NX10 using the automatic WB setting under incandescent lights looked a lot like sepia tones.

The NX10 turned in one of the most accurate results in our fluorescent lighting test.

 

Custom White Balance (2.57)

The good news here is that using custom white balance effectively solved the incandescent light problem we experienced when shooting with auto WB. However, we expect a high level of overall white balance accuracy after taking a manual reading, and the NX10 results were poor compared to other tested cameras.

The unimpressive custom white balance performance undermined what would otherwise have been a decent overall score here.

White Balance Settings*(10.00)*


In addition to auto white balance, the NX10 offers custom white balance, direct color temperature entry and seven presets, three of them for different types of fluorescent bulb.

Taking a custom white balance is quick and simple, even if the procedure isn't described with perfect accuracy in the manual. The manual tells you to press the Fn button to access the setting procedure, which in fact does nothing. You actually move the cursor upward with the four-way controller, point at a white object and press the shutter -- simple, once you learn to ignore instructions.

Advanced users can also dial in a white balance setting in degrees Kelvin. Since the effect is previewed live on-screen, this hands-on method may appeal to those interested in playing around freely with color effects.

There's a surprisingly usable white balance fine-tuning function, which brings up an on-screen grid with 14 settings along both the green-magenta and blue-amber axes. It's easy to adjust your position on the grid using the four-way controller. The changes you're making are reflected live on-screen, making this is an effective way to quickly tweak the colors in your photo without monkeying around with customizing picture wizard (color mode) settings. Custom white balance settings can't be manually adjusted, though.

White balance color bracketing is also provided, You set a 1-, 2- or 3-step bracket range on either the amber-blue or magenta-green axis. The camera then stores three versions of a single exposure, one with the unaltered white balance setting, the others with adjustments above and below. The occasionally accurate user manual says the camera takes three consecutive shots, which would be less desirable than the actual procedure of one shot, three versions.

Sample Photos


Each sample image below shows an unretouched version and three same-size crops. Clicking on one of the large photos will bring up the full-size original in a separate window.

 

 

 

 

Still Life Examples


The following shots were taken of our still life with each camera in its best color mode. Click on a thumbnail to open the full-sized image in a separate window.

NOTE: The images above are not used in our testing or scoring, but are included here to show real-world examples of the differences between cameras at the various ISO settings.

Noise Examples


The following full-size crops were taken from shots of our still life, taken with with each comparison camera in its best color mode, using automatic white balance.

NOTE: The images above are not used in our testing or scoring, but are included here to show real-world examples of the differences between cameras at the various ISO settings.

Playback Mode*(9.25)*


The basic viewing options here are simple but nicely designed, and the beautiful OLED screen makes the playback process particularly pleasurable.There are three screen display options, toggled by pressing the DISP button repeatedly:

Images can be magnified in eleven steps, with a maximum magnification 7.2x. The thumbnail display is alright, with 9 or 20 images displayed. Overexposed portions of an image can optionally be highlighted, but not underexposed areas.

A smart album feature is available during playback, accessed by pressing the button ordinarily used to set drive mode. You can then group the files into three categories, by date, week or file type (i.e., stills or movies) which are indicated by a strip along the bottom of the screen. This is potentially useful if you want to group all your movie files together, but otherwise nearly worthless, since there's no shortcut to jump quickly from date to date or week to week. Instead, you have to use the scroll wheel or four-way controller to tediously scroll through each individual file. Quick navigation is such an obvious feature here, we're baffled by Samsung's failure to include it.

 

The slide show utility has one feature that's particularly useful. You can create groups of images to be included, and save up to three groups. You can also play only shots from a particular date (but not a range of dates). The fancy visual effects (two choices) and background music (only one tune) are too aggressively busy for our tastes, but somebody will probably love them, and they're entirely optional.

Movie playback lets you pause, rewind, fast forward and adjust the volume, but doesn't let you move frame by frame, or jump immediately to the beginning or end of a clip, both options we value.

In-Camera Editing*(4.50)*


There are a handful of photo editing options. You can save a reduced-resolution copy of a photo, trim to one of the eleven image magnification settings, and rotate photos. There's an automatic red-eye fix, and a face retouch option with four layers of digital spackling. The backlight option is a heavy-handed attempt to bring up detail in dark surroundings. It does indeed make the dark areas more visible, but knocks the contrast down dramatically in the process. If there were intensity settings available, this would be a much more usable tool.

Finally, there are seven picture styles, related but not identical to the picture wizard options used during shooting, that alter the color tones of an image. Again, the effects are intense and there's no user adjustment that might make them more useful. There is something intriguing about the decision to name one of these filters 'Gloomy,' though.

During movie playback, simply pressing downward with the four-way controller captures a still image. We like this convenient feature, but it would be even better if you could move frame by frame through your video, to choose just the right moment for the capture. In-camera video trimming is also available, a nice way to remove the jostling that often occurs when you hit the shutter to start or stop recording. Your trimmed version is saved as a separate file.

Software*(6.50)*


The NX10 comes with two programs for Windows users. The image organizing and editing program is genuinely useful and delivers some entertaining effects and projects. The RAW converter is powerful but potentially intimidating. As for Mac users, you're on your own, which isn't much of an issue for JPEG shooters, but problematic if you want to process the Samsung .SRW RAW files.

Direct Print Options*(5.00)*


The DPOF system allows you to tag your files for printing at an outside service bureau, specifying which images you want printed, how many of each and at what size. There's also an option to request an index print of thumbnail images, which we always like to see. What's missing is the option to have date and/or file name information imprinted on the images, which is a fairly standard DPOF feature.

The PictBridge utility, which lets you output photos directly to a compatible printer without using a computer, is a full-featured and easy to use implementation. You can pick which photos to print, specify the size, printing quality, paper type, and whether you want the date or file name printed. You can have more than one image printed on a sheet of paper, and generate index prints.

Sensor*(2.00)*


The NX10 uses a standard APS-C format CMOS sensor, measuring 23.4 x 15.6mm. The gross resolution is 15.1 megapixels, the effective resolution 14.6 megapixels. There's a vibrating dust removal system, which for some strange reason is turned off by default. Turn it on and the sensor will be cleaned every time you turn the camera on, just like every other SLR we can remember that's equipped with a sensor-cleaning capability.

Viewfinder*(6.50)*


The electronic viewfinder offers approximately 100% coverage, with 0.86x magnification and VGA resolution (921,000 dots). There's a sensor below the EVF that automatically switches between the viewfinder and the LCD when you hold the camera to your eye. We found the sensor to be a bit finicky when shooting while wearing glasses, and there's no manual override. Brightness is good, even in dim environments, but there's a problem keeping up when you move the camera. The display stutters and blurs as you pan and scan, and it doesn't take  particularly fast movement to see this potentially stomach-churning effect. 

SAMSUNG-NX10-viewfinder.jpg

The EVF has problems keeping up with camera movement.

**

LCD***(7.30)*


Instead of using conventional LCD technology, Samsung offers a 3-inch AMOLED (active matrix OLED) screen, with a 614,000-dot resolution. It's a very sharp, good-looking display, particularly for reviewing photos and working with menus. We found the default configuration, with brightness set automatically by the camera, left us flying nearly blind when shooting in bright outdoor light. However, a quick trip to the setup menu let us turn the auto brightness off and crank it up manually (with five available settings). Now we could shoot even in the mid-day sun, though even then we prefer the EVF in the glare of direct sunlight.

The display color can also be finely adjusted, but we didn't see any reason to change from the default setting. 

LCD Panel

There is no separate monochrome LCD panel to display camera settings.

Flash*(6.50)*


The pop-up flash has a guide number of 11 at ISO 100. We found the illumination to be pleasingly even, but unfortunately underpowered. Also unfortunate is the way the flash is automatically deployed in low light when using the Smart Auto and scene modes unless you remember to turn it off through the menu system. We prefer requiring the user to raise the flash, to avoid accidental firing in areas where blasting away is unacceptable.

SAMSUNG-NX10-flash-open.jpg
SAMSUNG-NX10-flash-closed.jpg

The flash pops up a good distance above the lens.

 

Flash exposure compensation is available in a ±2 level range, with 8 available settings.

There is a hot shoe for connecting a Samsung SEF 20A or SEF 42A flash.

Lens Mount*(6.00)*


Samsung introduces a brand new lens mount with this camera. We used the kit lens for testing purposes, an 18-55mm  f/3.5-5.6 with optical image stabilization. With a conversion factor of approximately 1.54x, this makes it roughly equivalent to a 28-85mm on a 35mm camera.

Also available at camera introduction are a 50-200mm f/4-5.6 zoom with OIS (77-308mm equivalent) priced at $249.99, and a fast f/2 30mm pancake lens (46.2mm equivalent), without stabilization. for $299.99.

SAMSUNG-NX10-lens-closed.jpg

*Three lenses for the new NX lens mount

are available at camera launch..*

The following images were shot from the same spot using the kit lens, across the range of zoom settings.

Battery*(7.00)*


The camera is powered by a BP1310 7.4V 1300 mAh rechargeable Lithium-ion battery. Samsung estimates you will get approximately 400 shots, or be able to shoot 130 minutes of video, on a charge, which is reasonable. It takes about 150 minutes to fully recharge a depleted battery.

SAMSUNG-NX10-battery-open.jpg

The rechargeable battery.

Memory*(3.00)*


The camera accepts SD and SDHC memory cards, but not the newer SDXC high-capacity format.

SAMSUNG-NX10-memory-open.jpg
  *The SD/SDHC card slot.* **Jacks, Ports & Plugs***(4.50)* *** The I/O ports are located on the left side of the camera, behind a hinged door that pops open and, conveniently, stays open, though the fit isn't going to do much to keep out the elements. There's a DC-IN port at the top, for an optional AC adapter. Below that is the mini HDMI port for connecting directly to an HDTV (the cable is not included). Using HDMI, the camera can be controlled using a TV remote when connected to a Samsung HDTV set that supports the Anynet+(CEC) standard. Below the HDMI port is a connector for an optional remote control cable (there is no support for a wireless remote). Finally, the proprietary USB port supports both data and standard-def TV connections. The USB data cable is provided; the AV cable is not, which is annoying.
SAMSUNG-NX10-ports-open.jpg
   *The I/O ports* **Shooting Modes***(11.00)* *** We were happy with the Smart Auto mode, a scene recognition system that attempts to identify the subject you're shooting and adjust camera settings accordingly. The Samsung version has more potential matches than most similar systems, and was impressively accurate in matching modes to subjects.   **Live View***(3.75)* *** The same Live View layout appears on the OLED rear screen and in the electronic viewfinder. There are three Live View display options. All have a black strip with white type along the bottom, mimicking the look of a traditional SLR viewfinder, listing the current shooting mode, shutter speed and aperture settings, exposure compensation, the number of remaining shots available and the battery level.   Press DISP once and icons appear indicating picture size and quality, autofocus point mode, flash mode, color space, Smart Range status, drive mode, autofocus mode, white balance and ISO settings, metering mode and Picture Wizard status. An additional DISP press takes you to a screen that's customizable by the user. With optional features turned off, it simply adds the time and date to the basic screen display. However, you can choose to display the settings status icons here, a live histogram, and/or a grid line overlay. There are three rectangular grid options with 2-, 3- and 4-box patterns, and a fourth that adds intersecting diagonal lines. The OLED screen keeps up with the action perfectly, even when you're moving quickly to keep up with the action. The same can't be said for the electronic viewfinder, though. Even moving at low velocity, it stutters and smears as you move, a very unpleasant sensation. ** Scene Modes***(6.00)*   *** Three scene modes, Night, Portrait and Landscape, are included on the mode dial. The other nine are accessed via the SCENE spot on the dial. The Beauty Shot mode lets you adjust the effect in two ways, Face Tone and Face Retouch, each of which can be set to one of three levels. As for the difference between Sunset and Dawn, it's a mystery to us. **Picture Effects***(6.00)* *** The NX10 offers a set of nine 'picture wizard' settings, which affect color, saturation, sharpness and contrast, as shown in the samples below. Each of the preset picture wizards plus three Custom settings can be adjusted in four ways: color, saturation, sharpness and contrast. This is particularly good news given the mediocre color accuracy performance we found in our lab testing, with consistent oversaturation. By simply knocking saturation down a notch or two, results improve noticeably. The 20 color settings basically add tint effects to the image. Saturation, sharpness and control each offer 9 settings. As with other adjustments, the adjustments you make are previewed live on the screen but, given the amount of text, it isn't easy to see the changes.
SAMSUNG-NX10-pwadjust.jpg
  • *There's a bracketing option for picture wizard settings. You select three of the available picture wizard options. Like the white balance bracketing system, the camera takes one shot and saves three versions, with the specified effects applied. We can see situations where this capability could prove useful, producing three different looks with no extra effort on your part.

Focus*(2.00)*


Like other mirrorless cameras, the NX10 relies on contrast detect autofocus, using data directly from the image sensor, rather than the faster SLR-style phase-detect autofocus, which uses a mirror to bounce light to a separate autofocus sensor. On the plus side, the NX10 autofocus feels about as fast as the Panasonic Micro Four Thirds cameras, which are significantly faster than the Olympus models. At the same time, if you're doing a lot of sports or nature photography, the hesitation between pressing the shutter halfway and acquiring focus is still irritating, especially if you're used to shooting with a conventional SLR. For less action-packed scenes, like photographing guests at a party, it won't be a problem.

The camera supports three focus modes:

When using manual focus, the camera automatically enlarges the Live View display when you turn the focus ring, making accurate adjustment more practical. It would be better, though, if you could turn this behavior off if you find it annoying. And it certainly can be annoying, since you lose your view of the overall image every time the magnification kicks in.

There are two basic focus area options, one which lets the camera choose multiple points, the other which leaves the focus area selection up to the user. In addition, face detection and self-portrait autofocus are provided. 

There is a bright, green autofocus assist lamp located below the mode dial, which proved effective even in large rooms.

Exposure*(0.00)*


The exposure compensation range is ±3 EV, in 1/3 or 1/2 EV increments. You can also use 3-shot exposure bracketing, with the same ±3 EV range. The camera takes all three sequential shots automatically when you press the shutter once – there's no option to pause between bracketed exposures.

The Smart Range feature attempts to compensate for the loss of detail in bright areas when shooting contrasty subjects. It had some minor success in keeping highlights from blowing out, but didn't really make a lot of difference.

Speed and Timing


Shot to Shot (2.99)

The Samsung NX10 came in exactly where it claimed in continuous mode shooting, an an unexciting 3 frames per second (2.99 to be precise) for full-resolution superfine JPEGs. For RAW files (without JPEG) we still got about 3 frames a second, but it wasn't much of a run -- after just three shots the camera slowed to offload files to the memory card, and that was a fast class SDHC card.

If you need blistering speed, you can get it, if you're willing to settle for reduced resolution. The low-res burst mode promises up to 30 frames per second and delivered 28.6 (see below).

Here's how the NX10 stacks up against the competition:

Drive/Burst Mode (5.75)

The NX10 promises a so-so 3 shots per second and delivers on that promise, and a reduced-resolution burst mode delivered very nearly the blazing-fast 30 shots per second promised on the spec sheet. There are two stumbling points here, though. Those rapid burst-mode shots are limited to 1472 x 976 resolution (about 1.4 megapixels), which isn't bad for on-screen viewing but not suitable for printing at any decent size.The other oddity: press the shutter once and let go immediately, the camera still rattles off 30-plus exposures.

Depth of Field Preview*(2.00)*


We were pleased to find a dedicated depth of field preview button here, allowing you to stop the lens down to its shooting aperture and see how much of the scene will actually be in focus when the picture is taken.

Metering*(8.50)*


The Samsung NX10 provides the usual trio of metering modes:

When shooting in face detect mode, the exposure is based on the faces the camera finds. There is no option to use face detect for focus only.

Shutter Speed*(9.75)*


Available shutter speeds run from 1/4000 second to 30 seconds, plus bulb shooting up to 8 minutes.

Self-Timer*(8.50)*


The self-timer is unusually flexible, allowing the user to set duration anywhere from 2 to 30 seconds, in one-second increments.

SAMSUNG-NX10-self-timer.jpg

The self-timer duration can be set precisely.

Handling*(7.00)*


There have been two basic configurations in mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera design so far: those like the Panasonic G1 and GH1 that look like slightly shrunken SLRs, and those like the Olympus E-P1 and the Panasonic GF1 that are more like overgrown point-and-shoots. The NX10 is definitely in the first category, with a straightforward SLR-style design done up small. That's not much help if your goal is to stuff the camera in your pocket; even with the nifty pancake lens, that's not going to happen. However, when it comes to maneuvering the camera, the nicely designed front grip and rear thumb rest offer a solid hold that the more compact designs can't match. We tend toward large hands around here, but found the midsized right grip quite comfortable, while still being accessible to the small-pawed.

Controls*(8.75)*


The camera has a reasonable number of dedicated controls for quick access to frequently changed shooting settings, and the Fn button accesses a quick menu with the remaining major options. There's also a Green button, used to return camera settings to their default values.

There isn't a lot of programmability in the control configuration. The button labeled 'Fn' is not a programmable function button, as you might expect, but limited to quick menu access while shooting and a menu of editing options during playback. The depth of field preview button, located on the front of the camera, can be set to an alternative function, directly accessing the manual white balance setting, but that's all she wrote where control customization is concerned.

There is a single control dial, on the top of the camera, directly behind the shutter. This works reasonably well when setting exposure compensation, with the button on the back of the camera and thumb-accessible, but less well when trying to adjust drive mode, which is side by side with the dial.

 

 

**

Menu***(7.75)*


The NX10 offers a decent quick menu system while shooting, which includes settings for photo size and quality, autofocus area, flash control, color space and smart range (i.e., dynamic range adjustment). For lenses without an optical image stabilization switch on the barrel but with the feature, OIS is also controlled from here.

SAMSUNG-NX10-quickmenu.jpg

The quick menu screen

 

Pressing the MENU button brings up the traditional in-depth menu system, which is relatively short and sweet. Each of the seven tabs is a self-contained unit, so you don't have to scroll down to find hidden settings. Of course. one reason for the lack of clutter is the limited number of available customization options.

SAMSUNG-NX10-menu.jpg

*The main menu system is easy to use.

*

 

Manual & Learning*(3.25)*


The NX10 ships with an 88 page Quick Start Manual, in English and Spanish, and the full 125-page user manual on CD-ROM. For a more complex camera, the lack of a full printed manual would bug us more profoundly. In this case, while we prefer having a printed manual that can be carried for reference without lugging along a laptop, bookmarked and scribbled upon, it's less mission-critical than for a high-end SLR. A pdf-format copy of the manual can be downloaded from the Samsung support site by clicking here.

Unfortunately, the manual has some flaws, perhaps caused by a budgetary decision to save on hiring an English-speaking proofreader and just run the thing through spellcheck. Here's a favorite phrase plucked from the movie recording instructions on page 48:  'When changing the shooting angle of camera is suddenly changed while in shooting a movie, it may not be possible to take the images accurately.' Clear as mud, and far from unique. The manual also contradicts itself on the question of whether or not the standard-def video cable is included with the camera (it isn't, more's the pity).

Meanwhile, back on the camera, there's a built-in help function, accessed by pressing and holding the DISP button while in the menu system. It's a nice idea, but the text that's accessed lacks enough detail to be really useful.

**Video: Color Performance***(10.70)*


The Samsung NX10 did very well in our color test. Its 3.27 color error was better than any of the other models we used as comparisons, although the Panasonic GF1 was not far behind. The NX10 also managed a decent saturation value in our color test, clocking in at 84.18%. Click here for more on how CamcorderInfo.com tests color performance.

Looking at the Color Error Map above you can see the NX10 was very accurate in its rendering of blues, browns, and most red colors, while certain greens and yellows gave the camera trouble. The sample color images below show off the NX10's various Picture Wizard effects, which are all available in video mode. The images labeled Auto, as well as all of our test images, were shot using the Standard color mode on the camera.

In the comparisons below, the Samsung NX10 doesn't look all that much different from the other models, but you should be able to notice more differences if you look at the close-up comparisons further down. The Samsung rendered its blue tones much darker and more saturated than the other cameras in this set.

 

While all of these cameras captured fairly pleasing colors, it was really the Samsung NX10 and Panasonic GF1 that stood out in our testing. Both rendered deep, vivid colors with strong accuracy. Keep in mind, however, most video-capable DSLRs have multiple options for adjusting color settings like saturation, tone, etc. So, if you don't like the colors produced in auto or standard mode, you can always tweak them to your liking.

 

**Video: Noise Performance***(11.85)*


The NX10 averaged 0.4075% noise in our video testing, which is a decent score. Most video-capable DSLRs do extremely well in this test, so the NX10's performance isn't anything different than what we're accustomed to seeing from a camera of its class. Click here for more on how CamcorderInfo.com tests noise performance.

The crops above do a good job showing off how well each camera can capture sharpness and detail in their video images. All of the models shown above record at a maximum resolution of 1280 x 720, so their images are not nearly as sharp as what you'd get from a device that records Full HD (1920 x 1080). You can see the Samsung had a problem with blur and aliasing in the image above—many of the lines in the vertical trumpet appear to blend together. All of the cameras above showed signs of this, but the Samsung was one of the worst.

 

 

**Video: Motion Performance***(6.00)*


The Samsung NX10 records all video using a 30p frame rate, so it captures motion in a very different way than a traditional camcorder would (most regular camcorders record using a 60i frame rate). 30p frame rates are quite common amongst video-capable DSLRs, however, as are 24p record modes. Click here for more on how CamcorderInfo.com tests motion.

Samsung NX10

*Click Here for large HD Version *

 

Artifacting on the NX10's motion video wasn't terrible, but we saw lots of trailing and blur. The video captured by the camcorder also wasn't very smooth and we noticed some interference in both of the rotating pinwheels in our test. The NX10 also showed signs of a rolling shutter that created a wobbly effect when the camera was quickly moved from side to side. We usually only see this issue on actual DSLR cameras—not mirror-less cameras like the NX10 (none of the Micro Four Thirds cameras showed signs of a rolling shutter issue).

Panasonic GF1

*Click Here for large HD Version *

 

The GF1 can record 720p HD video using a 60p or 30p frame rate. The camera's 60p mode gave us some trouble when we tried to import the footage into our computer (this was likely an issue with the camera's AVCHD Lite compression system). We noticed more artifacting, pixelation, and choppiness with the 30p mode, but the files were much easier to work with (the 30p mode uses MJPEG compression).

Olympus E-P1

*Click Here for large HD Version *

 

Like the NX10, the Olympus E-P1 records HD video using a 30p frame rate. We found the camcorder to render decently smooth motion with an average amount of blur. There was some very prominent artifacting around the borders and edges of lines and we consistently saw pixelation on the rotating pinwheels in our test.

Pentax K-x

*Click Here for large HD Version *

 

The Pentax K-x didn't have a huge problem with artifacting in our motion test, but its video wasn't that smooth. The motion video captured by the camera looked jerky compared to what you'd get from a dedicated camcorder. The Pentax K-x records video using a 24p frame rate.

 

**Video: Sharpness***(9.34)*


The Samsung NX10's horizontal and vertical sharpness were both measured at 600 lw/ph in our video testing. These numbers are similar to the other cameras we used as comparison models, which makes sense as they all record at a maximum resolution of 1280 x 720. One thing we noticed, however, is that the Samsung showed a lot more aliasing and discoloration in our sharpness test than some of the cameras we compared it to. So, while the sharpness of the four models may be roughly equivalent, the actual quality of the image rendered by the NX10 was below average. Click here for more on how CamcorderInfo.com tests video sharpness.

 

 

**Video: Low Light Sensitivity***(1.99)*


The Samsung NX10 required 19 lux of light to reach 50 IRE on our waveform monitor, which is a disappointing performance overall. Since all the video-capable DSLRs in this set did poorly on this test, however, the NX10's performance doesn't seem all that bad.  Click here for more on how CamcorderInfo.com tests low light sensitivity.

Of course, when determining a camera's low light sensitivity the results are heavily influenced by what kind of lens you have attached to the camera. We did all our video testing with the NX10's 18-55mm kit lens. Using a faster lens will most likely get you a better low light sensitivity.

 

**Video: Low Light Color Performance***(9.67)*


The Samsung NX10 actually produced more accurate colors in our low light test than it did in our bright light test — something we have seen before from a video-DSLR. The camera managed a color error of 2.96 and a saturation level of 93.21% in this test, both of which are excellent numbers Click here for more on how CamcorderInfo.com tests low light color performance.

The Samsung NX10 rendered colors more accurately than the cameras we used as comparison models, but all of the cameras shown below managed to produce vivid colors in low light. Every one of them had a saturation level above 90%, with the Pentax K-x recording the highest level at 101.2%. The NX10 produced a darker image than the other models, which you can see by looking at the comparisons below. This darker image gives its colors more pop, but it also shows less detail in the darkest portions of our test chart.

 

 

**Video: Low Light Noise Performance***(9.97)*


The Samsung NX10 averaged 1.1175% noise in our low light test. This is a decent performance for a video-DSLR, but if you look at the cropped images below you'll see that the Samsung NX10 did not produce a very clean image in our low light testing. In fact, all of the cameras in this set were sub-par low light performers, although the Panasonic GF1 managed to render a decent image. Click here for more on how CamcorderInfo.com tests low light noise performance.

You can see a lot of artifacting, discoloration, and general murkiness in the NX10's cropped image shown above. It really looks bad, particularly in comparison to some of the other models in this set (or any decent HD camcorder). The Olympus E-P1 measured the most noise in this test, but its image is also quite a bit sharper than that of the NX10.

 

 

**Video: Compression***(7.00)*


The Samsung NX10 uses the H.264 compression system and saves its video files in an MP4 container. This is a similar compression system to what is used on Samsung's HD camcorders, but we had more trouble working with the files from the NX10 in Final Cut Express. In addition to the NX10's 1280 x 720 HD record mode, the camera also has two standard definition recording options (all three settings record using a 30p frame rate).

In addition to the three recording modes, the NX10 also has two quality settings for shooting video: Normal and High Quality. We assume the only difference between these two settings is recording bitrate.

 

**Video: Manual Controls***(4.25)*


You can only shoot video on the NX10 when the camera's mode dial is set to video mode. When in video mode you have the option of shooting with auto exposure or in aperture-priority mode. Neither mode offers manual shutter speed or ISO control.

Auto Mode

There is a continual autofocus setting on the NX10, but it doesn't work nearly as well as the autofocus function on a regular camcorder. It is much slower, louder, and you must press a button to activate it.

Auto exposure wasn't bad on the NX10, but we did notice some choppiness when moving between light and dark scenes. The transitions were gradual for the most part, however. Exposure metering can be set to spot, center-weighted, or multi.

Zoom Controls and Zoom Ratio

The zoom controls on the Samsung NX10 are located on the camera's lens (just like every other video-capable DSLR). The zoom ratio is, of course, determined by what lens you have mounted to the camera. We did all our testing using the camera's kit lens, which is an 18 - 55mm lens (roughly a 3x optical zoom).

Focus

The Samsung NX10 does have a continual autofocus feature, but it doesn't work very well. The camera often takes a few seconds to achieve focus in video mode, and the process is rather loud (the sound will definitely be picked up by the camera's built-in mic). To perform a live autofocus (while recording video) you must press the depth of field preview button on the front of the camera.

You can always use the manual focus ring on the camera for a quieter, more efficient focus, but this will require the use of two hands. You can also autofocus prior to recording by pressing the shutter button down halfway (just like you would for taking a photo).

Exposure, Aperture, and Shutter Speed

Exposure can be set on the Samsung NX10 and the camera has a range of adjustment from -3 to +3 in 1/3 EV steps. You can set exposure when the camera is in auto mode and you can do so during or prior to video recording. Shutter speed cannot be set manually in video mode.

If you switch the camera to aperture-priority mode you can set the aperture for video recording. This action can also be performed while recording video, but the noise of rotating the aperture dial will definitely be picked up by the camera's built-in mic. Allowing for manual aperture control is very important for video-capable DSLRs, as it enables the user to play around with depth of field when recording video.

ISO/Gain and Other Controls

The Samsung NX10 has no manual ISO control in video mode, but you can use any of the camera's picture wizard effects when shooting video. There are also a number of white balance presets on the camera—as well as a custom white balance setting—and you can add faders to your videos.

**Audio Features***(1.50)*


The NX10 isn't loaded with audio features. In fact, all the camera has is a built-in mic that records mono audio and a basic wind cut feature. The built-in microphone has the same issues that plague most video-capable DSLRs—it picks up tons of extraneous noise when you're shooting. This essentially renders the audio recording on the NX10 unusable. The built-in mic will pick up noise from the camera's autofocus mechanism, as well as any noise associated with pressing buttons or rotating dials (these noises sound a lot louder than you'd expect when they're picked up by the built-in mic).

 

If you're serious about getting clean audio, then you should definitely use a separate audio recording device when shooting with the Samsung NX10. This same theory applies to all of the video-capable DSLRs we compared to the NX10  (see the table below). Some of the higher-end DSLRs have external microphone ports, which allows you to record much cleaner audio than the tiny built-in mics on these devices.

 

**Video: Handling***(4.25)*


The Samsung NX10 is fairly small for an interchangeable lens camera, but it isn't any more compact than the competition. Some of the Micro Four Thirds models from Olympus and Panasonic are as small or smaller than the NX10. We did like the grip on the NX10, however, and the camera felt rather comfortable in our hands. Its design isn't that useful for shooting video — mainly because of its stationary LCD. When you use a camera like the NX10 to shoot video you really start to notice how helpful a rotatable LCD can be, which is probably the main reason the feature is a staple of the camcorder industry.

Unlike most of the larger video-capable DSLRs, the viewfinder on the NX10 can be used while recording video. This is due to the fact that the camera has a mirror-less design (which technically means it isn't a DSLR — much like the Micro Four Thirds cameras from Panasonic and Olympus). The NX10 also features a live autofocus mechanism that works continuously in video mode, but we found the system to be extremely slow. If you're used to the quick, snap-like autofocus on traditional camcorders prepare yourself to be very disappointed.

 

 

Like most video-DSLRs, the Samsung NX10 has a variety of handling issues that make it very difficult to use as a replacement for a dedicated camcorder. According to Samsung, the NX10 will overheat after extended use of video mode, and clip lengths are limited to 25 minutes or 2GB when recording HD video (you can always start a new clip after this limit has been reached). Video mode also eats up the battery on the NX10, so prepare to have a backup with you if you're planning a long day of recording. There's also the aforementioned rolling shutter problem that produced a wobble effect whenever we did a quick horizontal pan with the camera.

 

 

There is a pause record feature on the NX10 that is rather interesting. If you simply want to stop recording for a moment, you can press the OK button until you are ready to record again. This pause feature works nearly instantaneously, and it is a lot quicker than actually stopping the recording completely and starting it back up again (that can take a few seconds). We're surprised more DSLRs don't come equipped with a useful feature like this.

The Samsung NX10 has two image stabilization settings in video mode (as long as you use the OIS-enabled kit lens), but we didn't run any video stabilization tests on the camera. You can read about our photo stabilization results here.

 

 

 

 

Performance

The GF1 offered better color accuracy with default color modes, though you can tweak and save these settings on the NX10. Both cameras scored well in resolution and poorly in dynamic range. The GF1 isn't exactly a speed demon, but it was slightly faster than the NX10 in continuous shooting mode. When it comes to image noise, though, there's no contest, with the GF1 stumbling badly and the NX10 scoring well.

Components

The key difference is the APS-C-size sensor in the Samsung NX10 versus the significantly smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor in the GF1; the smaller sensor makes for a smaller camera and lenses, but there's a performance price to pay when it comes to image noise. We like the 3-inch 460,000-dot GF1 LCD, though we'd have to give the edge to the brighter, slightly sharper OLED on the NX10. As for shooting at eye level, the GF1 accepts an optional electronic viewfinder, but that's a $200 add-on, pushing the camera price above $1000, where the NX10 has an onboard EVF, even if it does have problems keeping up when you pan the camera. Both of these cameras offer built-in flash with a nice even illumination pattern and so-so power, and have similar battery life (about 350-400 shots per charge).

Handling

The GF1 body is actually a bit wider than the NX10, but the Samsung is taller and deeper (especially with lens attached), making the GF1 both more portable and more easily stowed in a jacket pocket. When it comes to shooting, both are easy to hold and maneuver, and feel substantial and well constructed. We prefer the GF1 buttons and dials, both for layout and tactile response, plus a dedicated movie record button, plus a flash that the autoexposure system can't pop up by itself. The playback mode is better on the Panasonic, with higher on-screen magnification, a calendar and frame-by-frame movie control, though we do like the easy video frame grab on the Samsung.

Controls

So far, Panasonic has the fastest autofocus system among mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, and while the NX10 performs quite well, we still give the GF1 a modest edge here, both for speed and the incorporation of an effective AF tracking system. The NX10 also offers a higher degree of user customization, including three custom settings slots for storing shooting configurations for rapid access. Both cameras provide a nice range of scene modes along with adjustable color modes.

NOTE: The images above are not used in our testing or scoring, but are included here to show real-world examples of the differences between cameras at the various ISO settings.

 

 

 

Performance

The E-P1 rocked our color accuracy test, but otherwise failed to impress compared to the NX10, particularly in noise and long exposure (which includes both color accuracy and image noise testing). While we were unimpressed with the dynamic range performance of the NX10, the Olympus fared even worse. Shot to shot speed for the Samsung is a sore point, where the Olympus turned in a passable three shots per second. As for video, the Samsung proved superior on color, noise and low light performance, though the Olympus captured motion more smoothly, and was free from the rolling shutter effect (a wobbly look when panning) that afflicts the NX10.

Components

With a handsome metal body and sleek retro design, the E-P1 makes a great impression. There are some key items missing from a practical point of view, though: no pop-up flash and no port for connecting an electronic viewfinder. The NX10 includes both flash and EVF, and while it's not our favorite viewfinder incarnation, it will do when shooting in bright outdoor situations. The 3-inch 230,000-dot LCD does use Olympus' HyperCrystal technology to take advantage of reflected light for a more legible display in difficult conditions, but it literally pales by comparison to the beautiful 3-inch AMOLED screen on the Samsung. Give props to Olympus, though, for its ingenious collapsible 3x zoom lens. When you're not shooting, it retracts down into itself until it's about as thick as a pancake lens, saving about 1.25 inches in camera depth for enhanced portability.

Handling

Both cameras feel comfortable and secure in your hands. One-handed shooters may prefer the balance of the E-P1, but it's a marginal difference. The E-P1 does have an edge when it comes to button and dial design, starting with a dual-dial system that makes manual exposure settings much more fluid than the single-dial approach on the NX10. We also like the unusual 'sub dial' on the back of the Olympus, a vertically mounted rolling cylinder that falls naturally under your thumb and makes navigation fast and accurate. Embedding the mode dial within the camera body, though, doesn't work as well; we prefer the straightforward mode dial on top of the NX10 for easy access. The quick menu system on the Olympus is exceptionally complete and nicely laid out, a more useful tool than the more limited Samsung approach. The Olympus live view shooting displays offer more variety, and feature a useful on-screen level gauge. And when it comes to customization, the Olympus is far superior. Basically, the NX10 is more point-and-shoot oriented in its approach, the E-P1 more SLR.

Controls

Both cameras offer scene-recognition-based auto shooting modes, but the Samsung is more flexible and precise. The Olympus offers a wider range of scene modes, and supports multi-frame panorama shooting. Some shooters will also appreciate the E-P1's half dozen elaborate Art Filters, a few of which (a hyper-intense Pop Art, the black and white Grainy Film) are interesting if used sparingly. The major difference, though, between the two cameras when shooting is autofocus; the Olympus autofocus system is noticeably slower than either the Panasonic GF1 or the Samsung NX10.

NOTE: The images above are not used in our testing or scoring, but are included here to show real-world examples of the differences between cameras at the various ISO settings.

 

 

 

Performance

The Samsung NX10 trails the Nikon D5000 by a significant margin when it comes to color accuracy, white balance, dynamic range and burst-rate shooting, but the Nikon's lack of sharpness is cause for concern. Both cameras offer low image noise shooting.

Components

Shooting at eye level with the Nikon optical viewfinder is a much more pleasant experience than using the Samsung EVF, which has stutter and blur problems when you move the camera. Shooting in Live View mode, the 3-inch AMOLED screen on the Samsung is far brighter and more attractive than the 2.7-inch Nikon display, though the face that the D5000 screen is hinged at the bottom does have some value when shooting at odd angles or taking self-portraits. Both cameras seem reasonably well built, though the Samsung feels more solidly constructed than the larger Nikon body. Of course, when it comes to access to a library of lenses, Samsung is introducing a brand new lens format here, with only three choices at launch and a single body that supports them, versus the second-to-none Nikon lineup.

Handling

While the Nikon is a reasonably compact SLR, it's much larger than the Samsung in every dimension, most notably depth, where the D5000 is nearly double the size of the NX10, and weight (Nikon body 19.8 oz., Samsung 12.3 oz.). This difference in more a factor in portability than shooting comfort, though. Both cameras are comfortable and highly maneuverable, with the Nikon grip a bit deeper and more substantial, but the Samsung textured surface less prone to slippage. We do prefer the Samsung button layout, with direct access to key shooting settings such as ISO and white balance. On the Nikon, buttons are kept to a minimum, with the complete quick menu serving as a functional but slower alternative. A key question to ask yourself when comparing the two cameras: are you primarily an eye-level or a Live View shooter? If you like Live View, the Samsung has a superior display and a faster autofocus system. If you prefer eye-level shooting, the electronic viewfinder on the Samsung is tough to take for extended periods, and Nikon's autofocus much speedier.

Controls

The Nikon D5000 offers an extra ISO stop as an extended setting, and five stops of exposure compensation versus three for the Samsung, plus three choices for high ISO noise reduction versus a single on/off setting. The Nikon system also offers a greater range of customization options and in-camera editing tools; even similar capabilities, like dynamic range enhancement, offer finer control on the Nikon 

NOTE: The images above are not used in our testing or scoring, but are included here to show real-world examples of the differences between cameras at the various ISO settings.

 

 

 

Performance

Interestingly, the Pentax K-x shined in two areas where the Samsung is lacking; burst rate shooting (a snappy 4.2 shots per second is impressive in an inexpensive camera) and dynamic range. Color accuracy was better out of the box for the Pentax, but neither camera aced this test, and both offer the color mode controls to jigger the output to your liking. The Samsung has a decided edge when it comes to image sharpness and both bright-light and low-light image noise.

Components

Part of the Pentax plan to contain costs was skimping on the LCD screen, which at 2.7 inches and 230,000-dot resolution is distinctly ordinary where the Samsung OLED literally shines. The Pentax optical viewfinder is no great shakes compared to the Nikon D5000 or other low-cost SLRs, but stacked up against the disappointing Samsung electronic viewfinder it's definitely a more comfortable choice. There are plenty of Pentax lenses available compared to the newbie Samsung's slim selection. Unusual for an SLR, Pentax decided to power the K-x using AA batteries. If you stick with buying off-the-shelf alkalines, this is a bad thing. However, if you invest about $30 in a set of rechargeable AAs and a charger, you have the best of both worlds: the rechargeables last for hundreds of shots, and if you're stuck without a charge, you can pop into a convenience store and power up your camera for a few bucks. Less acceptable, though, is the lack of high-def output on a camera that shoots 720p video. The Samsung NX10, like most cameras in this category, provides a standard mini HDMI connector for hooking up to a high-def TV for still and video playback. The only way to view HD video shot with the Pentax is using a computer.

Handling

While quite small for an SLR, the Pentax is still a substantial handful compared to the Samsung NX10, particularly when it comes to depth. Of course, part of that depth measurement is a rubberized right hand grip that fills your palm more securely than the stubby NX10 grip. Both cameras offer reasonable control schemes, with direct access buttons for key shooting settings, though the Pentax use of the control dial to enlarge or reduce magnification in playback mode is a better solution than Samsung's repeated button-mashing. The Pentax quick menu is another point in its favor, with ready access to nearly every relevant setting and all current settings visible at a glance. The setup options are also more extensive on the Pentax though, frankly, many choices just seem to be there because the engineers knew how to program them, rather than offering any particular benefit to the user.

Controls

Samsung did particularly well in designing its scene-recognition-based full auto mode, while the Pentax system is fine, but nothing special. The Pentax K-x color mode customization is more extensive than the Samsung NX10, but there's a catch: you can't save your tweaked modes as new settings, a useful option on the NX10. The Pentax also offers eight highly customizable filter effects while shooting and another 15 as in-camera editing options that, to be honest, we kind of like. Simulating a soft focus effect can be a welcome option, especially when you can adjust the degree of softening. Same goes for color extraction (creating a black and white image with only a single color retained) or an ultra-high-contrast image. The star burst effect, not so much.

Pentax pushed the envelope when it comes to ISO, with settings up to ISO 12800, though as seen below the top setting is more appropriate to marketing materials and modern art projects than actual photographs. The Pentax also offers in-camera high dynamic range shooting, an unusual option, especially in an inexpensive camera. Unfortunately, though, we didn't find it particularly useful, largely because the self-timer is locked out during HDR shooting, resulting in camera jiggle that blurs the final composite. The Sony A550 HDR system, with the added benefit of shooting handheld or on a tripod, is much more impressive.

NOTE: The images above are not used in our testing or scoring, but are included here to show real-world examples of the differences between cameras at the various ISO settings.

Meet the testers

DigitalCameraInfo.com Editorial Staff

DigitalCameraInfo.com Editorial Staff

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We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.

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