Could a small, mirrorless camera that features a 14.6-million-pixel APS-C-sized sensor give the Micro Four Thirds format a run for its money? We find out
Build and handling
The first thing you notice about the Samsung NX10 is how small it is. Compared to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1, the NX10 is also just over 100g lighter with a shallower handgrip.
Most importantly, the camera’s body is extremely well built and solid. Impressively, given its size and price in comparison to the Olympus Pen range of cameras, the NX10 includes a built-in electronic viewfinder and a built-in pop-up flash.
This makes the NX10 feel very much like a miniature DSLR, perhaps even more so than the Panasonic G range of cameras.
The control layout of the NX10 is typical of a DSLR, with the only deviation being the positioning of the control dial. You would usually expect this dial to be on the front of the camera below the shutter button, but on the NX10 it appears on top of the camera behind the shutter-release button.
At first, whenever I went to change the aperture or shutter speed, I found that my forefinger defaulted to the front of the camera, but it wasn’t long before I became used to the placement of the dial on the top of the camera.
In fact, there is a good reason for the dial being where it is: given the small size of the camera, it would have been a little awkward to fit the dial onto the front and still make it comfortable to use.
Changing the exposure and image settings is also very fast and easy to do. The metering, focusing, white balance and sensitivity settings can all be accessed via shortcut buttons on the rear of the camera.
Image style is also accessed via a shortcut button, which is very useful, because when it comes to assigning shortcut buttons this oft-changed setting is commonly overlooked by manufacturers. To help those who are already familiar with Samsung compact and DSLR cameras, Samsung has continued to call the image-adjustment options the Picture Wizard. When using Picture Wizard, changing the colour, contrast and sharpness settings are made all the better by the bright and well-laid-out on-screen menu.
In fact, Samsung has put a lot of effort into making sure the on-screen menu and settings displays aren’t just simple lists of features. The simple but sleek iconography, and the colour scheme, combined with the excellent 3in AMOLED screen (more on this later), help to make the NX10 very intuitive and easy to use, regardless of whether you are used to compact cameras or DSLRs.
As Samsung is aiming the NX10 at those upgrading from compact cameras, it lacks many of the custom settings you would typically find on a DSLR. In fact, most of the custom settings have very little to do with adjusting images or how the camera operates, although there are a few adjustments that can be made to the User Display, such as the option to turn the live histogram on or off and to choose one of four different grid display overlays. One extremely user-friendly feature is the preview button on the front of the camera. This button can be changed to do more than just display an optical preview, which is similar to a traditional depth of field preview but with the advantage that the screen adjusts to the level of light. An alternative use for this button is to select One Touch White Balance. This works by pressing the preview button with the camera pointed at a neutral-coloured subject, and then pressing the shutter. As the name suggests, it is a much faster way of setting a custom white balance than accessing the white balance menu.