Samsung’s first mirrorless interchangeable lens camera NX10
Released in a complicated situation
Samsung had made Pentax K mount DSLR with HOYA-Pentax (Receiving bodies and providing sensors), but not anymore. And the camera part belonged to Samsung Techwin at first, separated as Samsung Digital Imaging, and it has been declared to be merged with Samsung Electronics this year.
For those who were waiting for new cameras from Samsung, there were only bad news in 2009, but finally, in January, 2010, the mirrorless interchangeable lens camera NX10 and 3 types of lenses were released.
I’d like to introduce the new model of Samsung Digital Imaging NX10 which is expected to take a lot of market share like Panasonic G1, GH1, GF1, Olympus E-P1, and E-P2.
Micro Four Thirds and mirrorless interchangeable lens NX10
In a word, they have the same concept. The biggest feature is the absence of mirror box which is regarded as a symbol of SLR cameras. SLR means Single Lens Reflex, so it was the representative part of SLR cameras with Penta Prism (or Penta Mirror).
It has the advantage to use phase based AF which is now the fastest AF, but due to them, there’s a limitation when it comes to the reduction of the size and weight.
Micro Four Thirds which was invented by Panasonic and Olympus is a camera without a mirror.
Shortened flange back can reduce the size and weight, and it’s also good for a minimized lens. Sometimes, phase based AF might be needed, but for normal situations, contrast AF is good enough. This also can be a good choice for those who dislike the quality of compact digital cameras and the mobility of DSLR cameras.
This explanation of Micro Four thirds is exactly the same as the concept of mirrorless interchangeable lens camera from Samsung. In my opinion, they didn’t come up with this idea prior to Panasonic or Olympus, and when they failed to get the original technology of the phase based AF through the technical cooperation, they tried to use the previous technology used for compact digital cameras.
The only difference between Micro Four thirds and mirrorless interchangeable lens is the size of the sensor. I think Samsung has been on their own, not become one of the Micro Four Thirds lines, because they couldn’t just give up the image sensor they provided during the technical cooperation with HOA-Pentax, and there’s an advantage with the relatively large sensor in high ISO noise.
Micro Four Thirds could successfully enter the market, but they have some difficulty due to the insufficient number of the lenses, so I think Samsung will have also the same difficulty. It’s great that Samsung released 3 lenses at the first launching, but will not be enough.
I think jPeople are going to use various K mount lenses by using K mount adapter from HOYA-Pentax for some time.
Appearance of the NX10
As I mentioned, Samsung has released 3 lenses with the NX10. I don’t know how it will be sold exactly, but I think it will be a kind of package and the single or standard zoom lens will be the basic package rather than the telephoto zoom lens.
Mounted Samsung lens is the NX lens 30mm F2, NX lens 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OIS on the left, and NX lens 50-200mm F4-5.6 OIS on the right. The size of the telephoto zoom lens couldn’t be reduced much even by decreasing the flange back.
The NX lens 30mm F2 is probably the smallest one among pancake lenses with AF function., and also has the great performance, so I think this would be the most popular lens.
The NX lens 30mm F2 is mounted on the NX10. Actually, this is a small lens and fits well in the small camera, so this will be the most frequently used lens, I think.
It’s the NX lens 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OIS mounted which will become another representative lens of the NX10. Compared with the 30mm F2 lens which is smaller than Micro Four Thirds lens, due to the size of format, zoom lenses are a little bigger than Four Thirds lenses.
However, given that it’s much smaller than the bundle lenses of DSLR cameras, we can see how much Samsung has tried to reduce the size.
The NX lens 50-200 F4-5.6 OIS is mounted. It’s a little big, because it’s a telephoto zoom lens.
Size Comparison with other cameras
I thought it’s not easy to guess the size of the NX10, so I compared it with other cameras. Please refer to the pictures.
It’s comparison with D3000 which is Nikon’s entry level DSLR. Due to the short flange back, it’s slimmer, but the size is not that different. The problem is there are not many lenses for this small camera from Nikon. AF-S NIKKOR 18-55mm F3.5-5.6G VR and AF-S NIKKOR 55-200mm F4.5-5.6G ED VR are all of them, but when it comes to the NX10, they looks preparing small lenses for the small body.
I also compared it with the Micro Four Thirds GF1 which is more expensive. The GF1 is lighter, but the NX10 looks slimmer because of the NX 30mm F2 lens. The LUMIX G 20mm F1.7 ASPH mounted on the GF1 is also a great lens, but the NX 30mm F2 lens is also. Personally, I usually used the NX 30mm F2 lens, because of its great mobility and image quality when going out to take shots.
It’s the NX10 and the EOS 1D Mark IV with EF 24-70mm F2.8L USM mounted. These 2 new cameras released at the similar time have totally different sizes.
This is my main body with my main lens mounted. When collecting news, the NX10 was very comfortable for snap shots.
I asked a lot of questions about the NX10 to my sister. She is 172cm tall and taller than the average 160 of Korean women.
Q1. How is the camera design?
A1. I like the design of the NX10, because I like curved lines. (Micro Four Thirds camera) The GF1 white was cute, too, but I prefer the design of the NX10 with a lot of curved lines. For the same reason, ii prefer the EOS 1D Mark IV + EF 24-70mm F2.8L USM to the D3 + AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm F2.8G ED N.
Q2. How is the weight of the camera?
A2. It’s definitely heavier than my camera (Samsung i8), but actually it’s lighter than I thought, so good enough to hang on my neck. (I walked around Hosu Park for 90 minutes.) It could be held in one hand.
Q3. How do you feel after 90 minutes with the NX10?
A3. It was good to take pictures, because the light weight, fast AF speed, and neat AMOLED screen. It was easy to take shots. I like that Looking through the EVF, the AMOLED is off. Buy the way, how much is it? (I told less than 1,000 dollars.) She said women buy cameras of 400~500 dollars.
It might be because of I didn’t tell her I bought the GF1 white Kit at 1,200 dollars.
Picture Wizard of the NX10
Like other brands, Samsung also has a various color setting modes called Picture Wizard. It consists of 9 Picture Wizard modes provided by Samsung and 3 custom Picture Wizard modes. Here is the color difference by each Picture Wizard applied.
I personally used Standard or Landscape.
Burst mode of the NX10
As you might know by the specifications, the NX10 supports Burst mode which is a high speed continuous shooting mode taking 30 shots at 1 sec. Images are stored in 1472 * 976 size fixed. It is available by using the mechanical feature of the NX10 used for video recording. However, because it can’t follow a moving object and the image quality is fixed, I recommend this for certain situations.
The below animated GIF was made by 30 images at 1 sec. It was not by Samsung Software, but by Adobe ImageReady. There are freeware programs to make animated GIF, so by using them, you will be able to make interesting things.
Noise and detail comparison of the Samsung NX10 and Nikon D3000
Let’s start the noise and detail comparison with the D3000 using Sony 10.1M pixels CCD which is the same size as the NX10, but old.
The body of the Nikon D3000 is not that big, but the NX mount lenses from Samsung are samller than the Nikon F mount lenses, so in size and weight, the NX10 is better.
Let’s start the comparison.
Aperture, Shutter speed, and ISO were the same. Red rectangular is noise reduction, and the blue one is the camera detail. The results by ISO are the NX10 on the left and D3000 on the right side.
It was a similar to the Sony A550. In up to ISO 400, both cameras showed good details and noise reduction, but from ISO 800, they were different in the noise reduction. The NX10 tired to reduce the noise, even though it marred the details, but the D3000 has a priority to details. Of course, in ISO 3200, both cameras made unsatisfactory results.
If detail is more important, the D3000 is better, but noise reduction is more important, the NX10 is better. For web sites, given that users usually upload pictures after resizing, the NX10 might be better. However, given that the NX10 uses a quite big image sensor, it was not great enough like the Sony A550. Given that most of the users didn’t like the noise reduction of the Sony A550 in high ISO, I think the Samsung NX10 will be similar.
Noise and detail comparison of the Samsung NX10 and Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF1
I’d like to compare the noise and detail of the LUMIX DMC-GF1 which has a smaller size of the sensor with the NX10. The LUMIX DMC-GF1 might have a handicap, because it has a smaller sensor size with high pixels, but because these 2 models might become a rival, I compared them.
The NX lens 30mm F2 is lighter and smaller than the LUMIX G 20mm F1.7, but the body of NX10 is a little bigger and heavier than the LUMIX DMC-GF1. I think this is because of the sensor size.
Let’s compare the noise and details. Here is the setting of each camera.
NX10: F8, shutter speed adjustment by ISO, lens: NX lens 30mm F2.
GF1: F10, the same ISO and shutter speed as the NX10 (In ISO 100, 1/6s), lens: LUMIX G 20mm F1.7 ASPH
Aperture, Shutter speed, and ISO were the same. Red rectangular is noise reduction, and the blue one is the camera detail. The results by ISO are the NX10 on the left and LUMIX DMC-GF1 on the right side.
Like the Nikon D3000, the NX10 showed the better result in high ISO noise, but worse in details. It was impressive that the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF1 struggled not to mar the image details with the small image sensor. It depends on users’ preference between noise reduction and details.
IS function of the NX10
Samsung added OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) function to the 2 zoom lenses. I hope it could have been Sensor Shift, but the NX10 decided to supports IS function in the lens.
In order to find out the performance of IS function, I compared it with the D3000 TAMRON 17-50 VC lens. Here are the settings of 2 cameras.
ISO 1600, M mode, and F5.6, 50mm (or 55mm)
That’s why the images taken by Samsung NX lens 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 are a little soft. Therefore, please look at the image blur caused by hand blur.
Let’s take a look at how much it prevents hand blur by focusing on the letter TAMRON.
The IS function was not as great as the TAMRON VC (Vibration Compensation) which is regarded as the best. There was about 1 stop difference. However, given that the small camera was more difficult to have a stable pose than the combination of the D3000 and TAMRON 17-50 VC, the result was that bad, I didn’t think. Of course, once deciding to use OIS, the performance needs to be at least the same as the TAMRON VC or better, I suppose
Beauty Shot/Sin Compensation of the NX10
The NX10 supports Beauty Shot mode and skin compensation function as an editing function. Beauty Shot also adjusts the brightness to make it brighter, while skin compensation just corrects pictures. Skin Compensation is made by 3 levels. Let’s take a look at the effect of the Skin compensation by looking at the sample face.
There was a time that I thought I had a quite good skin, but not anymore. It’s me. Let me just apply the skin compensation.
Skin Compensation level 1
Skin Compensation level 2
Skin Compensation level 3
It seems taking out the skin tone, but looking at the marred details around hair, I think the area is a little ambiguous for fast processing. However, it’s a very popular function for women users taking a lot of self shots, so I recommend this for women users.
By connecting a photo printer like Fuji Pivi MP-300, users can print out pictures via USB, so this will be very useful for work, I think.
Movie recording of the NX10
During the beta test, I claimed a lot of dissatisfaction, and now it seems improved a lot, even though there’s still something to be improved. According to the specifications, it supports HD quality 720p 30fps in MP4 format. It took some decoding time when trying to upload on YouTube. I’m not sure there’s a different decoding for MP4.
The NX10 supports AF while recording a movie. However, because the lens is not for a movie recording, it’s not appropriate to capture a fast moving object, but it can capture a slowly moving car. By pusing Depth preview button, it automatically starts tracking AF.
Only P and A modes are supported for Exposure mode. Personally, it could have been better, if it supported M mode, but exposure can be fixed by AEL, so this might be better. One thing I didn’t like was there’s a jello effect caused by rolling shutter. There was no gello effect in the EOS 1D Mark IV and GF1. I think in development stage, they didn’t fully consider this, I think. I hope this will be improved in the next model.
I prepared 5 sample movies. All of them were uploaded on YouTube.
Sample Photos of the NX10
Let’s take a look at the images taken by the NX10 with 3 lenses. They are only resized without correcting. Most of them were taken by the NX lens 30mm F2 and some of them were by NX Lens 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OIS and NX Lens 50-200mm F4-5.6 OIS.
Reduced size with unsatisfactory design
I don’t know the reason, but it has quite good noise reduction in high ISO. Gradation is also very good. However, the problem is the worse quality and jello effect in the movie recording.
The design depends on people, but for me, it’s just like a smaller DSLR. I don’t know why the great design in compact cameras became worse in the NX10 which was their ambitious model.
I reviewed the WB1000 before, and of course it had great FOV and quality, but I liked the design the most. I hope mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras have also this design. However, the launching with 3 lenses from the beginning was a great decision, and I hope they will keep being improved.