Digital camera with new concept, NX10
SAMSUNG NX10 | A-Mode | Auto WB | 1/800s | F2.0 | ISO 200 | 30mm
Prologue: Why Capture? Create!
The NX10 having created a lot of issues before its release is a mirrorless interchangeable lens digital camera after the GX20 which was a DSLR camera. However, the NX10 is not a DSLR, but a new interchangeable lens type camera. It has taken out mirror box and pentaprism which took a lot of volume and also has the same image quality with the body of smaller size and lighter weight. Mirrorless type was firstly introduced with Micro Four Thirds which was developed by Panasonic and Olympus together, and it has opened a new market of digital cameras. The NX10 is not a Micro Fourth Thirds system, but has the same size of APS-C sensor as DSLR cameras, so it’s a little different mirrorless interchangeable lens camera in its structure from others.
Like I mentioned earlier, the mirrorless interchangeable lens camera NX10 has APC-S standard 23.4 x 15.6mm CCD with 14.6M pixels. It also has 3.0” AMOLED which shows clearer and more vivid images than LCD, and also supports 1280×720 movie recording. Then, let’s take a closer look at if the NX10 is really a camera like a creating tool fitting the copyright ‘Why capture? Creat!’ or not.
SAMSUNG NX10 | S-Mode | Auto WB | 1/25s | F16 | ISO 800 | 30mm
SAMSUNG NX10 | A-Mode | Auto WB | 1/20s | F2.0 | ISO 1600 | 30mm
Design: A little different design, how is it?
After the mock-up of NX10 was released in 2009, there were a lot of talks about its unique design among a lot of users who waited for this camera. There were some positive and some negative opinions, and the design of the NX10 was the same as the mock-up design. The only difference was that it comes in only black and silver except wine color which had been included.
[Proto Type of the NX10 released in IFA 2009]
[The official NX10]
Because people reacted differently on the design of the NX10, I can’t actually evaluate the design, but in my opinion, it’s not bad. Of course, it could have been better if the design was a little more classical, but it wasn’t bad at all to me. However, the inconvenient power button and awkward location of the buttons has to be improved.
With the slim design and small size, the NX10 has been designed with better mobility than DSLR cameras. It has 123x87x39.8mm of size and 353g of weight which is not that light and is made of strengthened plastic. The grip of the NX10 was okay, but when turning it on/off with holding the camera, it wasn’t fully smooth.
Lens detach button, depth preview button, MIC, and AF assist light (Green light) are located on the front side. Inside the mount, 23.4×15.6mm CMOS without mirror box is located. And Focal plane shutter is outside the CMOS, but it’s only operated when a lens is attached.
Because the NX10 has its own NX mount, other lenses for DSLRs made by Samsung can’t be used with this. However, by using K-mount adapter, Samsung and Pentax lenses can be used, but it has to be used in Manual mode. Up to now, there are 3 lenses such as 18-55mm F3.5-5.6(OIS), 30mm F2.0, and 50-200mm F4-5.6(OIS), and 5 more NX lenses will be released later. That means that it doesn’t supports various lenses and even if you have K-mount lenses, they can’t be used yet, because there’s no NX adapter released yet.
[NX lenses and NX mount adapter]
As a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, it has been designed to be small, so various setting buttons on the camera are located in a narrow area, but there was no difficulty to control them. Its simple and easy interface to control various settings was very good. However, it could have been better, if the direction key was a wheel type for easier control. It has 1300mAh Lithuim battery and can take up to 400 pictures on CIPA standard. SD memory is applied.
We’ve been talking about the design and the part name of the NX10. As a matter of fact, when I showed the NX10 to my friends, women liked it more than men. Its curved line and great mobility with small size was the reason, I think. I also liked its button arrangement, convenient interface, and 3.0” vivid AMOLED screen. However, some inconvenience in control and the absence of basic accessories (A/V cable) have to be improved for users.
Feature (1): Mirrorless interchangeable lens camera NX10
The NX10 is an interchangeable lens camera like a DSLR, but it doesn’t have mirror and prism, so it offers users better mobility than DSLRs and great quality and performance than normal compact digital cameras.
Like the above picture, the NX10 shows the difference from DSLR cameras. Because it has taken out mirror box and prism, it becomes smaller. However, the distance between the image sensor and lens was also reduced, so only NX mount can be applied, not DSLR lenses. Moreover, while DSLR cameras has phase based AF, the NX10 has contrast AF due to the absence of AF sensor as a mirrorless camera.
Feature (2): The same standard CMOS as DSLRs
Before the NX10 was launched, it got an attention from a lot of users, because it was known as a mirrorless camera and especially APS-C standard CMOS like normal DSLRs not a Fourth thirds type. The NX10 has 23.4×15.6mm CMOS used in the DSLR camera from Samsung and 14.6M effective pixel with up to 4592×3056 resolution. 3:2 and 16:9 can be selected for screen ratio, and in 16:9 ratio, the maximum resolution is 4592×2580 with 12M pixels.
The image was taken by the NX10 with 30mm. Looking at the 100% cropped part, you can see the performance of the CMOS. The image is not enough to prove the performance of the CMOS in a word, but personally, I think it’s great, because the quality has already been approved through the DSLR camera from Samsung. However, that the CMOS of the GX-20 released in 2008 has just been applied isn’t that good.
Feature (3): Vivid and clean AMOLED
Like I mentioned in the design part, 610K pixels AMOLED has been applied, so it shows great quality and visibility compared with other digital cameras. Compared to other cameras applying the screen of 920K pixels, there’s no difference. The display of the NX10 is intuitive considering users’ convenient and by using Fn button while shooting, users can set the camera more quickly and conveniently.
Because the NX10 has no mirror and prism, it has EVF (Electronic View Finder) displaying the same screen of the AMOLED on the back. The EVF supports 920K pixels, but compared to the back screen, it’s not as great in vividness. Moreover, because it’s an electronic type, it has advantages in its convenience and accuracy in exposure. However, when it comes to studio shooting or shooting with flash, there’s some difficulty to check the subject, because the screen becomes brighter or darker according to the adjustment of aperture and shutter speed.
Feature (4): Easy and unique UI
Recently, cameras have their character not only in design, but also in their UI. Especially, the NX10 has convenient and unique UI.
[Fn button UI in Normal Shooting mode]
[UI in Smart mode and Scene mode]
[Movie mode UI]
For each mode, there’s some functional difference for Fn button, but most of the time, the same UI can be used. For your information, when using the 30mm F2.0 lens without OIS function, OIS function can’t be selected. The function selection of Fn button can be set by using Multi Selector and Dial on the top.
[Multi Selector and Picture Wizard UI]
SAMSUNG NX10 | A-Mode | Auto WB | 1/1000s | F2.0 | ISO 100 | 30mm
SAMSUNG NX10 | A-Mode | Auto WB | 1/180s | F2.0 | ISO 100 | 30mm
Auto Focus: Fast and accurate contrast AF
As you know very well, the NX10 has applied contrast AF (Focusing by sensing the location and contrast through the sensor), not phase based AF (Focusing by sensing the distance). When it comes to Phase based AF, even if the distance is the same, each lens has their own focusing area, so it has to be compensated for a lot of times. On the other hand, contrast FA has relatively accurate AF. The NX10 supports 3 types of AF such as Selection AF, Multi AF, and Face Recognition AF, and in addition, Self Guide AF making beep sound when taking a self shot is also supported.
When using Selection AF, the size of AF can be adjusted to 4 levels. When selecting the smallest Spot AF, up to 195 area can be selected for AF area. Multi AF can recognize up to 15 point area. Face Recognition AF can recognize up to 10 faces at the same time. However, when it’s dark, it might take a long time to recognize a face or fail to set the focus.
Using MF mode, an image is automatically zoomed in for more accurate focus. When using the 30mm lens, MF can be selected in the body, and for other lenses, a lens switch can be used to change it.
Using MF, because the image is automatically zoomed in, users can’t select this function. It’s very convenient for Macro shooting, but for other modes, it’s a little inconvenient.
ISO: Insufficient noise in High ISO
The NX10 supports ISO from 100 to 3200. Recent digital cameras have quite good quality in high ISO, but considering the noise, it’s better to use the NX10 in up to ISO 800. Even though Noise elimination function has been included, there’s not much difference, so I’d recommend taking shots in up to ISO 800.
Noise starts to slowly increase from ISO 400, and it’s not that bad up to ISO 800, but from ISO 1600, it suddenly increases much and there’s some color noise. There’s no pixel smearing, but due to the color noise, I can’t say that the noise reduction performance of the NX10 is good. Like I mentioned, for better image quality, you’d better take shots at ISO 800 or below.
[Comparison of Noise Reduction with Normal Shooting]
(Left) Normal / (Right) Noise Reduction
White Balance: One touch White Balance
White Balance of the NX10 isn’t that great. Actually, it’s getting better with the updated firmware, but it’s still one of the weak points of the NX10. Of course, in order to get this over, the NX10 provides 9 white balance modes including custom and user setting. Especially, when you want to use more accurate and faster white balance, you can use One Touch White Balance mode, and this function is to adjust White Balance by using the Depth preview button located on the front. It’s a function to adjust White Balance by using a grey card or white paper.
[Detailed adjustment and One Touch White Balance]
Auto White Balance One Touch White Balance
As you see from the above sample image, the performance of Auto White Balance is not as accurate, so you’d better set the White Balance by using a grey card or a white paper for different shooting situations. Like I mentioned, One Touch White Balance is the same as Custom White Balance, but it can be used more quickly by using the depth preview button.
RAW: For Higher Quality and More Various pictures
Nowadays, RAW file format is now being supported in normal digital cameras and has higher quality than JPEG format, so it’s kind of imperative format for better retouching and higher image quality. The NX10 also supports RAW format for this reason, and depending on compression rate, it’s divided into RAW-S.FINE, RAW-FINE, and RAW-NORMAL. Images taken as RAW format can be adjusted and converted by using the converter program Samsung RAW Converter 3.
Because Samsung RAW Converter 3 has quite good performance, it can adjust pictures taken as RAW format. Various Photo Styles can also be applied. For more detailed retouching like composing, you’d better store RAW images as TIFF or JPEG and use Photoshop or Light room. Moreover, the performance of Samsung RAW Converter 3 is not as great compared to other converting software, so it has to be upgraded for the NX10 and the next cameras.
Original RAW image
Movie: 1280×720 resolution
It’s important for cameras to have the camera function and also support high quality movie recording function, and users also have an interest in it. Given that, the movie recording quality of the NX10 is not that great. Even though it supports 1280×720 resolution, given that a lot of compact digital cameras have 1080p quality, 1280×720 HD quality is not great enough. However, its convenience and function is kind of good.
The movie of the NX10 can be recorded in 1024×720, 640×480, and 320×240 with 30fps. Exposure can be set to P or A mode and users can also manually set the appropriate exposure. Personally, I liked the Fader function the most for the movie function of the NX10, and it’s widely used for smooth playing when editing a movie clip. It’s very useful because it can be applied right away when recording a movie, so it’s very useful.
AF of a movie can automatically be applied by using the depth preview button on the top of the NX10. Pushing it once, it’s very convenient, since the camera sets AF continuously, but when using the 30mm lens with shallow depth, it fails to set the focus a lot. There was some progress by updating the firmware, but it’s still not perfect.
: The future of the Mirrorless interchangeable lens camera NX10
Since the GX-20 which was the first DSLR from Samsung, there has been a long blank time to reach the NX10, so the NX10 is what people have really been waiting for. However, the higher the expectation, the greater the disappointment. I couldn’t see much difference in performance from other Samsung digital cameras. In addition, a mirrorless camera was not the first time, so compared to other released mirrorless cameras, the performance was not as great as them. Of course, I understand that it couldn’t please everybody with the first model, but a lot people just can’t understand anything and wait for the next model any more these days, just because it’s the first model.
However, I’d like to give a high score in that Samsung’s brand new technology has been applied in the NX10 such as clear and vivid 3” AMOLED screen, user friendly UI, and various functions. Given that, I’m expecting the next or higher model of the NX10 rather than the NX10. If Samsung keeps updating the NX10 and fixing the problems, and launches a great mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, the NX10 will be remembered the most as the beginning of them, I think.