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
It is, of course, the size of the Samsung NX10 that is its standout feature. Instead of relying on a traditional optical reflex mechanism, a rear 3in screen or a built-in electronic viewfinder is used to compose images. This greatly reduces the size of the NX10 compared to a traditional digital SLR.
The image displayed on the rear screen and in the viewfinder is captured by a 14.6-million-pixel APS-C-sized CMOS sensor. For more details on this, see Features in use.
As with Micro Four Thirds, Samsung’s NX system required a new lens mount – the logically named ‘NX’. With no mirror, the distance between the rear of the NX lenses and the camera’s sensor (the flange depth) is much shorter than that on a conventional DSLR. This also helps to reduce the size of lenses, but it also means that the NX10 can offer another interesting feature.
As the flange depth is shorter, it is easier to produce mount adapters that allow third-party lenses to be used on the NX10. By creating a mount adapter, which is similar to a small extension tube, third-party lenses can be mounted without losing the ability to focus to infinity. This same lack of a mirror box by-product has also helped the popularity of Micro Four Thirds cameras.
Samsung has itself said that it will introduce a Pentax K-mount adapter that will allow the use of compatible lenses. Novoflex has also launched no fewer than 12 lens adapters for the NX mount, including those for Nikon, Canon, Minolta/Sony and Pentax lenses. There are even Hasselblad, Contax and M42 adapters. Sadly, there is currently no Leica M adapter available, but I would imagine this will be resolved in the not-too-distant future.
So, although much of the marketing of the NX10 will be aimed at photographers looking to progress from a compact or bridge camera, it may actually be of more interest to those who are looking for a secondary camera to accompany an existing DSLR system.
Unlike the Olympus Pen range of cameras, the Samsung NX10 does not have in-camera image stabilisation. Instead, Samsung will use optical lens stabilisation in some of its lenses. So far, the optical stabilisation features in the two zoom lenses but not in the 30mm pancake lens.
As the sensor is exposed when lenses are changed, it is very important that the Samsung NX10 features in-camera sensor cleaning. When there is dust on the sensor it is clearly noticeable in the Live View image shown on the rear screen, particularly when the depth of field preview is used. I noticed a large dust particle while I was taking measurements from a grey card. I only had to use the in-camera cleaning function once to shift the dust off the sensor and I then set the sensor cleaning to take place every time the camera was switched on.
Features in use: ASP-C-sized sensor
Samsung’s NX system is the first interchangeable-lens, mirrorless, hybrid camera system that offers a real alternative to the Micro Four Thirds system of Panasonic and Olympus.
The NX system uses the more common APS-C sensor size, which is larger than the Four Thirds-size sensor currently found in rival cameras.
In fact, the 14.6-millon-pixel sensor of the NX10 is designed and manufactured by Samsung, having evolved out of the sensor originally used in the Samsung GX-20, Pentax K20D and Pentax K-7.
When we originally tested these cameras we were impressed with the amount of detail they were capable of resolving, and the NX10 continues this trend. The JPEG image (above ) was taken at ISO 100 and had the slightest touch of Unsharp Mask applied in Photoshop. It reveals an impressive amount of detail in the final image.