Is the new Samsung NX10 the future of Micro System Cameras? The What Digital Camera Samsung NX10 review sees how it stands up against the established Micro Four Thirds system...
Samsung NX10 review – Tone & Exposure
The Multi, Centre-Weighted and Spot metering options are quickly accessible as required as are exposure compensation and AEL (exposure lock) buttons. The AMOLED screen reciprocates images extremely well on the camera itself, which avoids surprises when looking at images on screen. Tones can be a touch on the flat side, though in print this can lend to realistic results.
Exposure proved accurate throughout, with the Smart Range option offering a shadow and highlight exposure boost, like the dynamic range optimising modes in many other cameras. However, the lack of user-definable options from the Smart Range option did lead to limitations.
Samsung NX10 review – RAW/JPEG
The provided NX10 software offers no Mac support and there are currently no plans to introduce a Mac OS version. With Photoshop in tow this won’t be an issue, though at the time of writing an ACR update to offer Raw compatibility hasn’t yet been released.
Working on PC using Samsung’s Raw Converter 3 to compare the Raw files against their JPEG counterparts and the difference is fairly considerable. JPEGs are heavily processed by default, with a mid-tone ‘push’ pulling out more detail than the Raw counterpart, yet the two seen side by side on screen look like different bracketed exposures (when this is not the case). While this does mean the Raw file retains more detail for user-tweaking, the default of JPEG levels processing may not be preferable for all users, especially new or step up users handling the Raw file type for the first time.
However, even if there is some apparent over-exposure on screen, the likelihood is that the Raw file will have preserved the highlight detail, so this may be a comfortable fallback for some other users. Further in-camera options do allow for contrast, saturation and sharpness processing adjustment however, though this can’t be previewed prior to shooting.
Samsung NX10 review – Colour & White Balance
Auto White Balance can become inconsistent between ISO settings for the same scene, and not only at the higher ISOs where image noise can ‘dull’ colour. Ignoring this relatively subtle inconsistency, however, the general AWB read is good, with images proving generally bright and well balanced.
Colour can look a little washed out in Jpegs, though the addition of in-camera saturation options are highly customisable and the Picture Wizard presets lend well to creative control from ‘Retro’ to ‘Classic’ (black and white) and many between.
Samsung NX10 review – ISO Sensitivity & Image Noise
The 14.6 megapixel sensor is densely populated, which appears to have surrendered some image noise quality for the sake of resolution. Images throughout the ISO range exhibit some image noise, though it becomes more significant from ISO 800 and above. Although ISO 3200 is available the noise-level is considerably prominent and destructive; even with High ISO Noise Reduction activated the image detail becomes softened.
The extra size of the Samsung sensor should have been strong enough to ‘out-do’ Micro Four Thirds with their smaller sensors. However the latter have been relatively conservative with pixel count and, as such, separating the two systems in terms of picture quality is a tricky one to resolve. On paper the NX10 should walk away with the picture quality prize and yet, due to image noise, it can’t take that crown…
Samsung NX10 review – Sharpness & Detail
The 18-55mm kit lens provides sharp centre-image detail that’s well resolved, yet softness does creep in toward the corners, especially at the wider end. The prime 30mm f/2.0 provided better results, though the latter’s lack of image stabilisation limits exposure times to more traditional handheld values.