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Samsung NX100 Digital Camera Review

samsung20110211a.jpgDigital Camera Review by: Simon Vrantsis

 

Samsung has been quoted as having a plan to dominate the photographic industry. No doubt, though, if all the players in the industry were asked, they would all have dreams of making it to the top in one form or another. But for those relatively new to the photographic game, there are usually two paths to take, a traditional approach or an innovative one. With their initial endeavors falling short of the mark, Samsung has most definitely chosen the less classical tact with most recent releases, whether that be in there compact cameras or their interchangeable lens, NX range.

With the NX100, Samsung continues in its attempts to supply a pleasing user experience while engaging a few new techniques in delivering end results that look to compete with their more traditional counterparts.

At its core, the NX100 is truly an act of revision and reimagining on the part of Samsung than an evolutionary step forward. The camera is fitted with the same sensor, AF and drive system that made the NX10 tick with no technical internal changes to note. Fitted with a 14.6-megapixel APS-C sensor, the NX100 produces images that don’t fall short of detail especially in favourable shooting conditions. Having the ability to capture in RAW along with the common jpeg mode allows users to get the most out of the shooting experience but it must be noted that Samsung have puzzlingly chosen to use their proprietary SRW.RAW format meaning its necessary to use their own RAW converter with no option to use more common third-party software such as Adobe Camera Raw. The software is supplied with the camera but for those shooting with a variety of cameras, this can create some inconvenience within a traditional workflow.

As mentioned in our discussion about Samsung’s NX10, the NX100 performs well in all the key areas necessary in delivering great photos, in particular exposure, white balance and accurate reproduction of colour. Handling noise is an area in which the NX100 doesn’t perform quite as well, and the details expected from its 14.6-megapixel sensor starts to diminish due to the noise reduction used.

The design of the NX100 is no doubt the main area in which changes have been made to give users an obvious differentiation from the NX10 positioning the NX100 more toward the advanced compact market than the DSLR one. Removing the electronic viewfinder has lowered the height of the camera in comparison to its older brother but it must be said that the width and depth remains much the same. In saying this, the weight of the NX100 has decreased by around 40% and considering the dimensions haven’t changed majorly, bar that of the viewfinder removal, the weight drop is a sign that the overall building quality has possibly taken a slight backseat. The general feel in hand is a comfortable one but due to its lack of any type of rubberised grip, the camera seems to be missing that secure tactile feel that is wanted in a camera of this size or larger.


The one area that thankfully has remained of top quality is the fantastic 3” AMOLED display that has a resolution of 614k. With a viewing angle wider than is possible with LCDs and delivering a bright and high contrast image, the display is a pleasure to use both during composing and in playback mode. Again it’s worth noting how smooth the display reacts whilst panning across a scene, which shows signs of a great refresh rate that is also fast enough for smooth video playback.

A drawback to reducing the size of any camera is the reduction in the available space to add buttons to enhance the user experience. In most cases, this requires users to resort to working through menus to make adjustments that onboard dedicated buttons would normal make for a more intuitive experience. For the most part, this remains the case for many of the NX100 more advanced adjustments, such as changes to AF point location, but it’s also the reason for one of Samsung’s new innovations that will no doubt be utilised by all their future cameras. A button positioned on the new 20-50mm lens introduced with the NX100 activates the iFunction system. A simply depression of the iFn button paired with a twist of the focusing ring results in seamless changes to many of the most commonly used exposure settings. Depending of the camera mode your using, the iFn button allows for changes to Exposure Compensation, ISO, White Balance, as well as Shutter Speed and Aperture. Even though it is a sign of innovation, the iFunction system is there to make up for the lack of a second finger dials that still baffles considering how small these dials usually are, but its still a nice addition for those more manually minded photographers.

medal-platinum-r.jpgThe question that really needs to be asked when thinking about purchasing the NX100, is whether the slight reduction in size and noticeable drop in weight (excuse the pun) outweighs the benefits seen in the already novel NX10. You’d think that the removal of the viewfinder would result in a little more of a benefit than has been delivered here.

 

Lastly, grading the Value For Money section actually became a difficult task, as Samsung's own website quotes the RRP at $899, however the price at a number of bricks and mortar retailers has the item placed between $560 - $700, and that's including a kit! Samsung have assured us the price on their website is correct, which in that range would be worth a  3.5 star rating, but considering the consumer can pick this item for a couple of hundred dollars less at most good retailers the item recieves a 4.5 star with us.

 

So, if you’re after compact camera advanced, the NX100 is a fine option that should be tested along side Panasonic’s GF series, Sony’s NEX clan and the Olympus’ PEN range. But if its DSLR-lite that you’re looking for, perhaps the more ‘traditional’ NX10 is still the way to go.
 

Appearance rating 4.5 stars
Functionality rating 4 stars
Image quality
4 stars
Lens quality
4 stars
View finder / LCD screen 4.5 stars
Value for money 4.5 stars*
RRP (AUD) $899
SPACER.GIF  *see review conclusion for details
Effective Pixels Approx. 14.6 Mega-pixels
Sensor Type
CMOS
Image Sizes 9 Sizes
Lenses Samsung Lenses for Samsung NX Mount
Resolution Settings [RAW] 4,592 x 3,056 pixels
[JPEG] 4,592 x 3,056 pixels - 1,280 x 1,280 pixels
Shooting Modes Beauty shot, Children, Close Up, Text, Sunset, Dawn, Backlight, Fireworks, Beach & Snow, Night, Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Sound Picture
Face Detection Yes
Manual Focus Yes
Auto Focus Yes
Aperture Priority No
Shutter Speeds Auto:1/4,000 seconds - 30 seconds Manual: 1/4,000 seconds - 30 seconds (1/3EV step) Bulb (Limit time: 8 minutes)
Shutter Priority Yes
ISO Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1,600, 3,200 (1EV or 1/3EV step)
LCD Monitor Yes, AMOLED
LCD Size 3.0", VGA (640 x 480) 614k dots (PenTile)
Viewfinder EVF (Optional)
Flash Yes, External Flash Samsung External Flash available (SEF42A, SEF20A, SEF15A: Optional)
Hot Shoe Yes
White balance Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent (W, N, D), Tungsten, Flash, Custom, K (Manual)
Self Timer 2-30 seconds (1seconds step)
Movie Options

Yes. MP4 (H.264), 30fps
1,280 x 720, 640 x 480, 320 x 240 (Default: 1,280 x 720)

With Audio or without Audio (user selectable, recording time: 25 minutes)

Video Out Yes, NTSC, PAL (user selectable) HDMI 1.3: (1080i, 720P, 576P / 480P)
Storage Type SD, SDHC
Image / Audio Formats

RAW (SRW), JPEG (EXIF 2.21), DCF, DPOF 1.1, PictBridge 1.0

Movie: H.264, Sound: AAC, Mono Sound

Connectivity USB 2.0 High Speed, HDMI 1.3: (1080i, 720P, 576P / 480P)
Power Source Rechargeable battery: BP1,310 (1,300mAh) Charger: BC1,310 AC Adaptor: AD9NX01 (Optional)
Battery Options Rechargeable battery: BP1,310 (1,300mAh) Charger: BC1,310 AC Adaptor: AD9NX01 (Optional)
Dimensions 120.5 mm (W) x 71 mm (H) x 34.5 mm (D)
Weight 282g (without batterY and memory card)
















 


 

 
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