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Performance

In many respects, the NX10 is a speedy enough camera. Its focus is fast and the interface is usually good and responsive. Indeed in JPEG mode the experience is very pleasant. It's RAW shooters who are most likely to be frustrated. The NX10's buffering doesn't appear to be very sophisticated, meaning the camera frequently locks up for around four seconds as it writes the information to your card. In Samsung's defense, the camera will (initially at least), still allow you to take another shot during this time, but trying to access playback mode or certain camera settings (particularly ISO) will leave you confronted with a 'Processing!' warning screen.

Timings & File Sizes

Timing Notes: All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 4592 x 3056 JPEG Super Fine (approx. 3,500 KB per image).

The media used for these tests was:

  • 8 GB SanDisk Extreme III 30MB/s SDHC card
Action
Details
Time, secs
(8 GB SanDisk)
Power Off to On *1   0.8
Power Off to Shot   0.9
Shot to shot time (JPEG) Manual Focus 0.7
Shot to shot time (JPEG) *2 AF-S 1.0
Shot to shot time (RAW) *2 AF-S 1.1 *3
Power On to Off   1.7

*1 This is the time from turning the switch to the 'On' position to the status display appearing on the LCD monitor (as soon as you would be able to verify camera settings). You cannot turn off the sensor cleaning, which adds substantially to this startup time.
*2 Single AF point, focus distance for this test was 0.5m - obviously exact timings will depend on the time taken to focus.
*3 The camera takes the first four shots with a 1.1 second gap. There's a 2.2 second pause for the fifth and a 3.3 second delay for subsequent shots, during which time the camera locks up with the word 'processing' appearing. Clearing the buffer takes around 12 seconds.

Continuous Drive mode

To test continuous mode the camera had the following settings: Manual Focus, Manual Exposure (1/500 sec, F4), ISO 100.

The tests carried out below measured the following results for JPEG and RAW:

  • Frame rate - Initial frame rate (+/- 0.05 fps)
  • Number of frames - Number of frames in a burst
  • Buffer full rate - Frame rate if shutter release held down after burst (buffer full)
  • Write complete - How long after the last shot before the card lamp goes out

Burst of JPEG Large/SHQ images

Timing
8 GB SanDisk
Frame rate 3.0 fps
Number of frames 15
Buffer full rate ~1.6 fps
Write complete ~6 sec

Burst of RAW images

Timing
8 GB SanDisk
Frame rate 3 fps
Number of frames 3
Buffer full rate ~0.3 fps
Write complete ~12 sec

In JPEG continuous shooting the NX10 does quite well, rattling off a longer burst of images than most people will ever need. It then settles down to a fairly steady 1.6fps with the occasional pause and 3.0fps pair that still averages out to 1.6fps. After such bursts the buffer takes a not-unreasonable 6 seconds to clear (locking up the camera during this time is rather less reasonable but in JPEG mode, it's only continuous shooting that really does this).

RAW shooting is quite another issue, however, with the camera's poor buffering meaning that certain functions, including playback, are unavailable for around 12 seconds. This is an unbearable amount of time to have to wait almost every time you wish to change ISO, or check an image in playback mode.

Autofocus speed / accuracy

Focus speed is one of the NX10's strong points. Like Panasonic, the company has designed all its NX lenses to focus quickly with contrast detection autofocus and the result is focus that's suitably fast that you rarely notice it - which is one of the most positive things you can say about any such system. There are occasions in low light when the NX10 has to hunt for focus but it's not bad, and no worse than the DSLRs in its class.

Indeed, in side-by-side testing, there's little to choose between the NX10 and, for instance, the Nikon D5000, with each taking it in turns to beat the other to achieve focus, depending on the situation. With several people within the office using the NX10 for extended periods of time, none of us had any concerns about the AF speed accuracy.

The only disadvantage of using a contrast detection AF system appears when you switch to continuous AF mode. Because, unlike phase detection systems, it cannot tell whether a moving object has got closer or further away from the sensor, it has to do another scan through various focus distances to establish where the object has gone. This isn't a problem unique to the NX10 but does mean that, although achieving AF lock is DSLR-fast, its attempts to refocus on for instance, a moving child, are likely to be less swift than a conventional DSLR design could be.

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