April 21, 2010: One of the features of the Photo Counter website is one-click access to a wealth of camera, lens and accessory reviews. (Click on the ‘Product Reviews’ tab on the masthead above.)
We have built the website with this structure as we reasoned the reviews were useful both as a way for readers to quickly get up to speed on the attributes and performance of specific new models, and as a selling tool – across the photo counter: (‘…But don’t take my word for it, check out this expert local review of the product.’)
In future, we will also run reviews of what we consider ‘landmark’ releases directly in our News section. The first of these is the Photo Review Editor’s Choice-winning Samsung NX10. This is a remarkable new camera on a range of criteria.
‘It’s an impressive first step into the new interchangeable lens category for Samsung,’ explained Margaret Brown, technical editor, Photo Review (Photo Counter’s stablemate publication).
‘We were also impressed with the price (RRP $849), which was very realistic and more in-line with overseas pricing, unlike manufacturers whose pricing simply encourages overseas purchases. It’s a wake up call to the larger players in the industry.
‘This is a very exciting category, with Panasonic, Olympus, Ricoh and Samsung already committed, and Sony flagging a large sensor interchangeable lens model prior to the FIFA World Cup.’
Samsung is making a serious commitment to its mirrorless interchangeable-lens compact (ILC) camera system with the NX10. Boasting a 14.6-megapixel APS-C-sized CMOS and Samsung’s latest DRIMe II Pro image processing engine, the new camera is released with three lenses: a standard 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 stabilised zoom lens ($849), a 50-200mm telephoto zoom, and a 30mm f2 prime lens with a ‘pancake’ design ($899). Additional bodies and lenses will follow.
Competing head-to-head with the Micro Four Thirds models from Olympus and Panasonic, the NX10 uses a new lens mount that’s incompatible with existing systems. A Pentax K-mount adapter will be offered for compatibility with Samsung’s GX lenses, although users will lose AE capability on the smaller body.
The control layout resembles a conventional DSLR, with a single mode dial and forward-positioned shutter button on the top panel, along with a command dial and pop-up auto flash. The rear panel boasts a 3-inch AMOLED (active matrix organic light-emitting diode) monitor with 614,000 dots, 100 percent field-of-view coverage, and wide viewing angles.
Perched above it is a 921,000-dot electronic viewfinder with an eye-start sensor. Despite its higher resolution, it lacks the contrast and saturation of the main monitor, which is disappointing. However, it’s bright and clear enough to allow manual focusing in very low light levels.
Right of the LCD monitor is a standard button array around a five-button arrow pad. Below the arrow pad are the Playback and Delete buttons, while above it are the Fn (function) button that provides quick access to key camera settings, including image size/quality, AF area, flash, colour space, Smart Range and OIS (stabilisation).
The NX10’s 23.4 x 15.6mm CMOS sensor boasts a total of 15.1 million photosites, with 14.6 megapixels effective. (The same as the Pentax K7, which also supports video recording.) It has approximately 50 percent more surface area than its Micro Four Thirds System rivals.
The NX10 can record still pictures in the universal JPEG format (Exif 2.21) or Samsung’s proprietary SRW.RAW format. Three JPEG compression levels are provided: Super Fine, Fine and Normal, along with two aspect ratios – 3:2 and 16:9.
The NX10 powers-up in Live View mode and provides a similar control suite and menu structure to most entry-level DSLR cameras. However, it lacks a direct movie recording button. Instead, the camera must be set to movie mode and recording is initiated and cancelled by pressing the shutter button. HD video clips are recorded at 1280 x 720 pixels, using H.264 compression and MP4 codec. SD video recording is available at VGA and QVGA resolution, and all video modes have a frame rate of 30 fps.
Pictures taken with the review camera were generally sharp, with a slightly warm colour bias in JPEGs, but plenty of detail. Exposure metering was accurate in all three modes and the contrast-detection AF system was as fast and accurate as most entry-level DSLRs for shooting stills, although a little sluggish for video (as expected).
Imatest (our camera analysis software) showed resolution to be close to expectations for a 14-megapixel with RAW files but slightly below expectations for JPEGs. Overall saturation was high in JPEG shots, particularly in the red, yellow and purple bands of the spectrum. Colour shifts were seen in yellowish greens and skin hues were slightly off the mark. RAW files showed more normal saturation levels.
Resolution held up well across the camera’s ISO range, with JPEG files coming in a little below SRW.RAW files, as expected, although not a huge gap between them. Very little noise was visible in high ISO shots, right up to ISO 3200 with flash. For long exposures, noise could be seen in shots taken at ISO 3200, but was barely visible at ISO 1600. Overall white balance performance was similar to most DSLRs we’ve reviewed and plenty of in-camera adjustments are provided for tweaking images as you shoot.
HD video from the review camera was generally clear and colour accurate and we found little evidence of the rolling shutter effect that plagues many large-sensor cameras, even in shots of fast moving subjects where the AF system had trouble keeping up. However, we did notice a lag of almost one second between when the shutter button was pressed and when recording actually began, and clips were cut short slightly before the recording ended.
There was a noticeable wait while the buffer memory was cleared – often of several seconds for clips longer than about a minute.
The review camera powered up in roughly half a second and shot-to-shot intervals averaged just under one second. Capture lag was 0.1 seconds with the viewfinder and 0.4 seconds with Live View mode but pre-focusing eliminated delays.
Overall, an impressive piece of gear!
– Margaret Brown,
technical editor, Photo Review
A more comprehensive review of the NX10 is available here.