Conclusion - Pros
- Good image quality with very high resolution and good detail at base ISO
- Well-designed and intuitive user interface, suitable for point-and-shoot users and enthusiasts alike
- Good customizability including the useful iFn button
- Attractive all-metal body with good build quality
- 8fps continuous shooting at full resolution (but limited and slow buffering)
- Responsive overall operation, focus acquisition and startup/shutdown
- Good quality video capture
- Full manual controls in video mode
- Useful slow-motion video available at lower resolutions (0.25x at 480p, 0.5x at 720p)
- Good feature set with 30fps burst mode (at 5MP), panorama mode and image filters/frames
- Good focus magnification, allowing for precise manual focusing
- Good quality OLED screen with good visibility even in brighter light
- Comes with decent bundled raw converter (SilkyPix)
- Decent selection of NX system lenses available
- Built-in Wi-Fi capability allows for image sharing and upload on the go
Conclusion - Cons
- Longer than usual processing times after taking raw shots (but improved over NX200)
- Fairly aggressive noise reduction starts blurring detail at lower ISOs and mixes with high levels of chroma noise at higher sensitivities
- No live view feed in continuous shooting
- No access to battery and memory card when mounted on a tripod
- Limited highlight range with Smart Range feature turned off
- Excessive noise reduction when Smart Range is turned on
- No in-camera raw file conversion (and limited JPEG retouch options)
- No dedicated external viewfinders available
As previously described in this article the Samsung NX210 is, apart from the addition of a Wi-Fi mode and slightly faster continuous shooting rate, as good as identical to its predecessor Samsung NX200. Some of the text in this conclusion has therefore been taken over from our Samsung NX200 review. If you are thinking about buying a Samsung NX210 please make sure you read the full Samsung NX200 review in addition to this article.
The NX210 is the latest in Samsung's NX line of mirrorless system cameras, and the successor to the NX200 which was introduced only seven months earlier. The NX210 and NX200 are, with the exception of a Wi-Fi mode on the NX210 and a slightly faster continuous shooting rate (8 vs 7 fps), as good as identical in terms of design, operation and image quality.
The NX210's 20.3MP pixel-count is, after the Sony NEX-7, the second highest pixel count amongst all mirrorless system cameras, but it would be unfair to reduce the camera to its sensor. There is a lot more to like about this camera. The user interface is intuitive and offers a good level of customizability for this class. Video shooters will appreciate the 1080p HD movie mode with full manual control and fast playback and slow motion options (at lower resolutions). Add 8fps continuous shooting, a 30fps burst mode (at 5MP), a panorama mode and a selection of image filters and frames, and the NX210 has a really competitive feature set. All this technology is wrapped up in an attractively designed all-metal body which has got a solid quality feel to it.
In terms of image quality we found the NX210 to be identical to its predecessor. At base ISO it captures an impressive amount of detail in its JPEG files but at higher ISOs the camera uses pretty strong noise reduction that doesn't always battle the (chroma) noise in a very efficient way, resulting in images that lack low-contrast detail but also show the purple shimmer of blurred chroma noise in the shadow areas. If you want to get the most out of the camera's high ISO images it's a good idea (as always) to convert the raw files and apply custom noise reduction on a computer.
Continuous shooting and buffering
If high ISO performance is not on top of your priority list there is really only one other potential 'issue' you might have with the NX210. After taking a shot the camera takes longer than we would like to 'flush' the captured data through its imaging pipeline, and critically the camera locks up - ignoring all user input - while buffering. Fortunately, thanks to its compressed raw files (an ISO 100 raw file of our studio scene from the NX210 is approximately 36MB vs 46MB on the NX200) the NX210 has improved over its predecessor in this respect. Below is a table of our measurements with the NX210 in Continuous High drive mode.
|Frame rate||8.0 fps||8.0 fps||8.0 fps|
|Number of frames||11||8||8|
|Buffer full rate||-||-||-|
|Write complete||8 sec||14 sec||14 sec|
After a burst of raw files the camera now locks up for 'only' about 14 seconds (vs 34 on the NX200). This is a substantial improvement, but the delay can still feel annoyingly long if another photo opportunity is vanishing as you wait for the buffer to clear. The NX210's raw files are still rather large compared to other cameras in its class too; for example the Sony NEX-7's ISO 100 raw from our studio scene is ~24MB, despite its higher pixel count. In raw mode the camera can also briefly lock up in single drive mode, especially when taking several shots in rapid succession. It's therefore recommendable to always use a fast memory card with the NX210.
If you're not a raw shooter (or you're simply a very patient person) there's not a lot else to complain about. There is still no microphone jack but the NX210 is now compatible with Samsung's ED-EM10 external microphone which connects via the camera's hot-shoe. This is a good option for more serious videographers. Some users will no doubt wish that the NX210 offered the option to attach an external viewfinder but other than that most of the points in the 'cons' list at the top of this page are minor quibbles.
As mentioned above the NX210 is second only to the Sony NEX-7 in terms of pixel-count in the mirrorless system camera bracket of the market. It offers a generous 20MP in a sector of the market where 16MP currently appears to be the standard.
Fortunately, the NX210 makes good use of its high pixel count sensor. When shooting at base ISO and default settings, with the right lens (such as the fine Samsung NX 60mm F2.8 Macro), the camera captures an impressive amount of fine detail - a result of the combination of the high megapixel sensor, a comparatively weak low-pass filter and sensible default sharpening. The color rendition is natural, and the metering and AF systems work very reliably, even in low light and difficult high-contrast situations.
The picture changes a little when the ISO is pushed up, though. You immediately start loosing some fine low contrast detail, and this becomes very obvious beyond ISO 800, with both the smearing effects of noise reduction and a purple shimmer of chroma noise becoming much more intrusive, especially in shadow and low contrast areas of the frame. Noise reduction is pretty aggressive across the ISO range (although, when switched on, it officially only kicks in at ISO 6400) and at the highest settings the NX210 is only really good enough for small output sizes. At ISO 6400 and 12800 in particular, the remnants of the chroma noise which has been blurred by noise reduction can be pretty intrusive, and can end up almost looking like a purple layer on top of some image areas.
Be aware also that even towards the low end of the NX210's ISO sensitivity span, turning its 'Smart Range' dynamic range expansion setting on has a profoundly detrimental effect on shadow detail due to particularly aggressive noise reduction. This is unfortunate as with Smart Range turned off, the NX210 offers relatively limited highlight range compared to the best of its competitors.
Raw processing gives you a minimal increase in detail at base ISO (and the usual post-capture control over some shooting parameters) but it really comes in handy at higher ISOs where you have much better control over noise reduction. The NX210's JPEG engine gets good detail out of the raw data at low sensitivities, but at higher ISOs custom noise reduction can often yield better results than the out-of-camera JPEGs.
The metal-bodied NX210 is reassuringly weighty and gives you a feeling of quality when holding it in your hands. Despite the weight, with the kit zoom or a pancake lens attached to it the camera makes a nicely compact package that finds space in most coat pockets. The downside to the attractive styling is that some of the sharp edges at the bottom front can, depending on the size of your hands and shooting style, become a little uncomfortable when holding the camera for extended periods of time. That said, for many people this will be a non-issue, and the rubberized grip area on the camera front and back has a very pleasant feel to it.
The NX210's user interface follows the by now fairly established model of combining some external controls with a 'Quick' menu (Fn-menu in the NX210's case) that allows for access to a range of frequently used parameters. On the Samsung the end result is an intuitive interface that doesn't require much time to get used to and offers various customization options. Apart from a custom button on the back of the camera you can assign various parameters, such as aperture, shutter speed, exposure compensation, ISO or white balance, to the iFn button that's found on most NX lenses. It's an ergonomically clever and very quick way of changing key shooting parameters on the fly, which is currently only available on Samsung cameras in this form. Manual focus aficionados will appreciate the very precise focus magnification that is activated once you turn the focus ring.
For those not interested in customization options, or indeed any form of manual operation, the NX210 essentially functions as a point-and-shoot camera when the mode dial is set to the 'Smart' mode. Generally the NX210 is a very pleasant camera to handle in both fully manual and Auto modes.
The NX210's new Wi-Fi functions get a prominent position on the mode dial which is great if you use the feature frequently. Everyone else would probably prefer the mode dial to be reserved for more photo-centric functions, but in any case it shows how determined Samsung is to make Wi-Fi connectivity a standard feature in digital imaging.
The Final Word
With only an added Wi-Fi mode and reduced file write times thanks to compressed raw files as the major differences to its predecessor, the Samsung NX210 is not a huge step forward from the NX200. However, if you frequently upload and share images on the go and like to do so without transferring them to a computer first, the Samsung might be exactly what you have been looking for and even worth an upgrade from its predecessor.
Other than that the NX210 performs in pretty much exactly the same way as the NX200. It's enjoyable to use and an obvious choice for anyone who wants lots of pixels in a small package but doesn't want to shell out the big bucks for the 24MP Sony NEX-7. Samsung's NX lens lineup is also pretty well-established by now, with a range of optics good enough to show off the NX210's 20MP sensor including an excellent 60mm F2.8 Macro and a couple of pancake primes. However, if you're looking for a camera for low-light high-ISO work there are better options around, as in those conditions the Samsung is beaten by the best of its mirrorless competition.
The NX210 is a fine camera that offers the same image quality as the NX200 and, with its panorama and magic modes and Wi-Fi connectivity, offers one of the more innovative feature sets in its class.
Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category.
Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.
Ergonomics & handling
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Movie / video mode
Photographers who want to capture a lot of low ISO detail in a compact package, anyone who wants to share/transfer images on the go
Not so good for
High-ISO photography in JPEG mode, action photography
The Samsung NX210 offers you the high pixel-count and compact dimensions of the NX200 and adds WiFi-connectivity to the mix. The NX210 is slightly let down by long buffering times in raw mode and the JPEG engine's noise treatment at high sensitivities but overall it is a powerful photographic tool with a good feature set for its class and enjoyable to use.
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