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Samsung NX100 Brief Hands-on Preview

September 2010 | By Richard Butler


Preview based on a pre-production Samsung NX100

Samsung was the first company outside the Micro Four Thirds consortium to release a mirrorless interchangable lens camera. The distinctly DSLR-like NX10 made little fuss about its mirrorless construction, concentrating instead on offering familiar capbilities and behavior in a smaller body with smaller lenses. Now its sister model, the NX100 takes a slightly different approach - it eschews the traditional styling of the NX10 and instead embraces the simpler silhouette of a compact camera. And, although its stylistic minimalism makes it appear somewhat monolithic, it's almost identical in size to its obvious peers - the Panasonic GF1 and Olympus E-P2.

The camera's more compact dimensions make sense of Samsung's previously announced 20-50mm F3.5-5.6 'compact zoom lens' that arrives alongside the NX100. It's a retractable zoom that is immediately reminiscent of the Olympus 14-42mm kit zoom for Micro Four Thirds. It isn't image stabilized and, starting at 30mm equivalent, isn't quite as flexible as most kit zooms (which tend to start at 27 or 28mm equiv), but it does mean the camera package remains nice and small even with the zoom mounted.

The underlying specification is pretty similar to the NX10 - it utilizes the same 14.6 megapixel sensor, battery and lovely VGA-equivalent OLED screen but it gains a range of features and tweaks that NX10 owners will hope to receive in future firmware updates. However there's one notable omission - the NX100 doesn't have a built-in flash.

Probably the biggest gain is a feature Samsung has called i-Function. The two lenses launched alongside the NX100 - there's a 20mm F2.8 prime as well as the 20-50mm - both feature an 'iFn' button on their left flanks that allow the focus rings to be used to control various camera functions. Depending on shooting mode iFn can be used to adjust shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation with the option to add ISO and white balance, depending on how you plan to use the camera.

In addition there are a series of changes that help make the camera more customizable - the option to select the highest ISO value the camera will use in Auto ISO, for instance. In themselves these are small changes but they're the kinds of options that allow users to better tailor the camera to their way of working, which we like to see.

The NX100's unadorned design makes it look rather large but it's of a similar size to the Olympus E-P2 (and, consequently Panasonic's GF1), despite using a larger sensor. It can't compete with the whittled-down minimalism of Sony's NEX-5 though.
When the standard kit zooms are taken into account, the NEX loses some of its size advantage, particularly against the Samsung and Olympus which have retractable zooms. However, while the Olympus and Sony both offer ranges of around 28-82mm equivalent, the Samsung offers the more restrictive 30-75mm. It's also worth noting that both the other combinations here offer image stabilization, either in the camera or in the zoom lens, which the Samsung doesn't.

Accessories

Alongside the NX100, Samsung has launched a range of accessories, including a flashgun, GPS unit and EVF that slots into the back of the camera.

The SEF-15A flash has a guide number of 15 (at ISO 100), giving it a similar output to the built-in units in most DSLRs.

It's powered by two AAA batteries and, though it can cover focal lengths as wide as 28mm equivalent, it cannot be tilted or bounced.
Samsung has gone down the now familiar sub-hot shoe accessory port route.
This allows connections of the optional EVF10 viewfinder. It's a 201,000 dot unit, giving an effective resolution of 320 x 224 pixels. It offers 0.83x magnification and 98% coverage.
There's also a GPS unti available that slots into the hot shoe. There are a series of menu options on the camera to control it but, having only seen a mockup it's not clear the degree to which the unit will communicate with the camera.

Foreword / notes

If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read some of our Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / recommendation / ratings are based on the opinion of the author, we recommend that you read the entire review before making any decision. Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of them, click to display a larger image in a new window.

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Dpreview use calibrated monitors at the PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally also A, B and C.

This article is Copyright 2010 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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