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Samsung NX100 review

Mark Peters
IFA Report
Wednesday 15th, September 2010
Posted by: Mark Peters

Review IFA Show 2010 - The system camera product group is steadily advancing. They were a bit slow to get going, but with the arrival of new manufacturers such as Samsung, the speed is increasing. According to Samsung, the system camera will conquer 4% of market share in 2010, but it is expected to increase five times in 2011 to 20% of market shares in the DSLR and system camera segment. It is clear that this will be at the cost of part of the digital SLR camera market. The new Samsung NX100 is expected to be part of that increase. The Samsung NX100 is a 14.6 Megapixel system camera with an APS-C format sensor and a friendly price tag. That makes for a remarkable combination.

Samsung NX100

Samsung NX100 review
The Samsung NX100 is certainly remarkable, even if it is only the fine design. While the Samsung NX10 still resembled a traditional DSLR camera a lot, though with smaller dimensions, the body of the Samsung NX100 resembles a compact camera much more. It is also one of the most important demands that are required for success. It has to be smaller and more compact in comparison with the DSLR, and has to maintain the user-friendly control of a compact camera. The Samsung NX100 system camera is comfortably light, weighing only approx.400 grams (including a 20m pancake lens and battery). Another remarkable feature of the Samsung NX100 is its unique control. In combination with new lenses with the so-called i-Function support, the Samsung NX100 camera offers a noticeably practical and unique ease of use. A bit of electronics and the newest firmware ensure for an extra piece of communication between lens and body. This communication makes it possible to adjust the camera settings manually via the lens. And that’s exactly as simple as it sounds. By pushing the i-Fn button on the lens, a tab appears in the display of the Samsung NX100 with a series of settings. Selection is done by turning the lens’ ring and this is activated by the same i-Fn button.

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Samsung NX100

Samsung NX100 test pictures
I was able to touch and try out the Samsung NX100, and I even took it with me in a helicopter flight above Amsterdam. The lens’ i-Fn system is very handy and I was immediately convinced of its practical value. If the Samsung NX100 is used with a lens without this i-Function, then it is also possible to adjust the camera settings in the ‘old-fashioned’ way. Moreover, Samsung will introduce firmware within a month after the introduction of the NX100, so that the Samsung NX100 gets a panorama function. According to Samsung, this will be a similar panorama function to the one that the WB2000 (TL350) megazoom camera has. The top of the Samsung NX100 system camera offers an easy overview, in terms of the limited amount of buttons that occupy space there. Next to the shutter release button, the most important button is the dial with the main programs.

Samsung NX100

Samsung NX100 video function
It is remarkable that the Samsung NX100 actually supports 720p HD video, but that is not really the key feature of this camera. Photography is the main core, and that is very clear, although 720p HD video in H.264 format will be sufficient for the majority of this target group, Samsung does not seem quite ready for camcorder-quality video integration in its system cameras. I do expect though that Full HD will play an important role in the coming year or years. Photo and video are saved on an SD format memory card, however, SDXC is not supported. The maximum storage capacity is 32GB (SDHC).

Samsung NX100 Lens kit
The Samsung NX100 will be delivered with a standard zoom lens of 20-50 mm f/3.5-5.6 ED. Additionally, we expect a new pancake lens, the Samsung 20mm f2.8 pancake. The new kit lens and the 20mm pancake lens support the new i-Function. Next year, around mid-April, Samsung is expecting to introduce the 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 zoom lens with i-Function. This will be an important lens for the Samsung camera system, for which there will be great demand. Later in the spring, a 60mm OIS f/2.8 lens will be expected. According to a Samsung spokesperson, the coming period’s aim is to introduce 5 new lenses every six months!

Samsung NX100

Samsung NX100 accessories
The Samsung NX100 system camera’s features and ease of use are certainly convincing. Without a doubt, the carrying comfort of this new Samsung system camera is very pleasant, and especially in combination with the pancake lens, it is remarkably flat. Samsung has several optional accessories available next to the NX100. An optional GPS tracker (Samsung GPS10) to capture your exact geographical location can be mounted on the camera’s hot shoe. There is also an optional electronic viewfinder available, the Samsung EVF10, with a resolution of 201.000 pixels (300x224). This is mounted onto the hot shoe via an interface on the back, just above the display. The optional Samsung SEF15A flash has a small guide number (15), and does not have the possibility of indirect flash. It is a fairly simple flash for just a bit of extra light.

Samsung NX100 does not have a built-in flash
The new Samsung NX100 does not have a built-in flash. Remarkably, this seems to be in less demand by the consumer. I would personally prefer having a small, built-in flash present. However, competing models such as the Sony NEX cameras also do not have a built-in flash and have shown rapid success in a short time. It is probably a typical ‘photographer’s thing’ to miss such a small detail. The beautiful screen on the back of the Samsung NX100 is an AMOLED type, and has a 3-inch format. Luckily, Samsung was smart enough to include the AMOLED quality, and thus the importance of such a display in the design of the NX100 camera. It may be desirable that the next generation has a tilting and rotating display. One of the advantages of AMOLED is the energy saving. It is immediately noticeable in the number of shots that can be made with a fully-charged battery. It is approx. 420 shots, measured according to CIPA’s standardized test methodology.

Samsung NX100 review
My first experience with the Samsung NX100 was an absolutely positive one. It is still too early to judge image quality, we will get back to that extensively when we receive the first technical test results from the DIWA Lab and I have thoroughly tested the Samsung NX100 in practice. For now, it seems that the Samsung NX100 has all the ingredients to score high. An intuitive and no-nonsense control, nice design, high quality AMOLED display, and a good retail price seem to be Samsung’s advantages. Slowly the Korean giant is waking up, which is something that the competitors have feared for some time now...

Samsung NX100

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