Samsung NX100 Brief Hands-on Preview
Operations and controls
The NX100 is a subtle and simple camera to look at - the small, well spaced-out buttons make the camera seem rather larger than it actually is. In fact it's about the size of an NX10 attacked with a hacksaw and wilful disregard for the health of the viewfinder and flash.
The NX100 has two fewer buttons on the back of the camera, compared to the NX10 but this doesn't result in much loss of useful direct access - the Picture Wizard image parameter menu and metering mode are the two ousted features. Both of these now appear in the camera's function menu instead.
In your hand
The NX100 fits pretty well in the hand. When you pick it up you become away of the thumb rest on the rear and slight bulge on the front which provide better purchase than its smoothed-off appearance might lead you to expect. The top control dial can easily be reached with your shutter finger, though the rear dial requires a change of grip to properly control (as is usual for such designs - the thumb cannot both support the camera and accurate manipulate a dial).
The iFn button on the two current lenses is also well placed, meaning you can use the focus ring and top dial to control all the camera's key settings without moving your hands out of the shooting grip. We've not had a chance to shoot much with the NX100 yet but the first impressions are positive.
|Like the NX10, the NX100 offers three record displays - one with most shooting info, one with just primary shooting settings and a third, user-defined screen with a choice of histogram, grids and the settings icons.||There's also a well-populated function menu that makes it pretty strightforward to change most settings.|
|Functions such as White Balance, drive mode and ISO can be accessed via dedicated buttons (each bringing up their own selection list).||Many of these, such as white balance or self-timer duration, can be fine-tuned from their menu screens.|
The key new feature of the NX100 is iFunction, which allows the focus ring of compatible lenses to be used as an additional function ring. Pressing the iFn button on the side of the lens enters iFunction mode and re-purposes the focus ring to controlling one of a series of shooting settings. The default options (usually combinations of shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation) depend on the selected shooting mode. Pressing the iFn button again or rotating the camera's top dial cycles through the options.
In addition to two shooting parameters, iFn can also be used to provide quick access to ISO and White Balance, though these can be switched off in the menus to keep the iFn list streamlined.
|The iFn option lets you quickly adjust key parameters using the focus ring.||Pressing the iFn button again or rolling the top dial jumps between parameters.|
|White Balance and ISO can be removed to keep the iFn menu simple.|
New NX lenses - 20-50mm F3.5-5.6 and 20mm F2.8
Alongside the NX100, Samsung has launched two iFunction compatible lenses, including a retractable kit zoom, the 20-50mm F3.5-5.6. Its design is very much like the folding kit zoom for the Olympus - featuring a lock switch to prevent you collapsing the lens while shooting. It also mimics the Olympus in using a rotating front group as its focusing element. This design has sometimes inhibited the PEN series' focus speed, but initial impressions of the NX100 with 20-50mm are fairly positive.
Unusually for a kit zoom it covers only the 30-75mm equivalent range and offers no image stabilization - stabilization (either from the lens or camera body) is near universal in interchangeable lens camera kits, as are lenses that offer wide-angle capability equivalent to a 27 or 28mm lens on a film camera. However, once understood, the compromises aren't excessive and do allow the lightweight lens to collapse to an impressive 40mm deep.
Here's the NX100 sporting the second new lens, the 20mm F2.8 pancake. It's about the same size as the 30mm F2, and the iFn button can be clearly seen in this view. To be honest we're not quite sure what this lens is for - Samsung now has a lot of rendundancy at this focal length, with the two kit lenses as well, and it's not that much faster than either. It may make for a nice three-prime kit in concert with the 30mm F2 and the upcoming 60mm macro - especially if the image quality is in the same ball park as the excellent 30mm pancake. The company has said that a 16mm (24mm equiv.) and an 85mm (130mm equiv.) are also on their way, making the potential NX lens lineup look rather attractive.