Cameras

Samsung NX10 Digital Camera Review

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Introduction

Samsung introduced a brand new camera format with the NX10, a mirrorless interchangeable lens system with the same APS-C-size sensor as conventional DSLRs. But while the NX10 is less noisy than Micro Four Thirds cameras, it's also bigger, and launched with only 3 lenses.

Design

Front

Front Tour Image

Back

Back Tour Image

Sides

Sides Tour Image

Top

Top Tour Image

Bottom

Bottom Tour Image

In the Box

Box Photo
  • 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.

Lens & Sensor

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

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.

Display(s)

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.

Secondary Display

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

Secondary Display Photo

The mono LCD display is small and disappointing.

Flash

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.

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.

Flash Photo

The flash emitter pops up from the top of the body via a mechanical release.

Connectivity

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.

Battery

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.

Battery Photo

Memory

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

Memory Photo

The K2000 accepts inexpensive, easy to find SD cards.

Media Photo

Image Quality

Sharpness

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. More on how we test sharpness.

Image Stabilization

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).

Color

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. 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

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.

White Balance

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....

Automatic White Balance ()

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

Custom White Balance ()

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 Options

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.

Long Exposure

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. 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 Reduction

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. More on how we test noise.

ISO Options

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.

Dynamic Range

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. 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.

Noise Reduction

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. More on how we test noise.

ISO Options

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.

Focus Performance

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: Single, Continuous, and Manual.

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.

Long Exposure

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. 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.

Video: Low Light Sensitivity

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.

Chromatic Aberration

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.

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.

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.

Motion

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. More on how CamcorderInfo tests motion.

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).

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).

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.

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

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. More on how CamcorderInfo tests video sharpness.

Low Light Sensitivity

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.

Usability

Buttons & Dials

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.

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.

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.

Instruction Manual

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.

Handling

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.

Handling Photo 1
Handling Photo 2
Handling Photo 3

Buttons & Dials

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.

Buttons Photo 1
Buttons Photo 2

Display(s)

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.

Secondary Display

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

Secondary Display Photo

The mono LCD display is small and disappointing.

Viewfinder

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.

Image Stabilization

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).

Shooting Modes

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.

Focus

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: Single, Continuous, and Manual.

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.

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.

Recording Options

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.

Speed and Timing

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.

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.

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

Focus Speed

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: Single, Continuous, and Manual.

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.

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.

Features

Recording Options

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. Find out how the performed in our video image quality test./r:link_to_content

Video Controls

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 Controls

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

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 Controls

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.

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

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.

Mic Photo

In the Box

Box Photo
  • 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.

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