Samsung NX10 Camera: Product of the Day, Day 7, 2010

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Samsung NX10 Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera

As photographed by Don at Pepcom Digital Experience, CES 2010

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Regular readers of my column and this site know I am a fan of the Micro Four-Thirds digital camera format.  For those who are unfamiliar, Micro Four-Thirds is an digital camera format that features interchangeable lenses and live view, rather than the optical prism and mirror of a digital SLR.  This leads to more compact bodies and smaller lenses.  Some, like the Olympus E-P1, work as a high-def camcorder as well. I have an E-P1 myself and love it.

The long-rumored Micro Four-Thirds competitor from Samsung, the NX10, was launched at CES 2010 and I got a bit of hands-on time with it at the Pepcom Digital Experience event at The Mirage.  The Samsung NX10 looks very promising and I plan on reviewing a production unit soon.

As I see it now, here is how the Samsung NX10 stacks up compared to Micro Four-Thirds:

Positives

Sensor: The most noteworthy positive for the Samsung NX10 is the large sensor, which is the same size as digital SLRs like the Pentax K-x or the Canon Digital Rebel series.  These sensors are significantly larger in physical dimensions than a Micro Four-Thirds sensor.  A larger sensor usually means better performance overall and especially in low-light conditions.  Many serious photographers will flock to the NX10 just for this reason.

Build quality: The Samsung NX10 feels like the proverbial brick in your hand.  It has heft and solidity approaching that of a pro camera body.  I was quite surprised when I first held it.

Screen:  The Samsung NX10 has an OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) screen on the back.  OLED is considered to be the holy grail for its amazing image quality and extremely low power consumption.  The NX10 screen has stunning image quality.  If you prefer to use the viewfinder when you raise the camera to your eye the screen turns off and the viewfinder turns on… nice touch, and no fumbling with an EVF/Screen button to switch between them.

Pentax K Lens Adapter: It has been leaked that there will be an adapter to mount Pentax K-Mount lenses, though electronic functionality is lost.  I think the Pentax pancake lenses would make a great match to this camera!

HD Video Recording:  The Samsung NX10 records 720p video in H.264 format.

Negatives

Size: The Samsung NX10 is somewhat larger than Micro Four-Thirds models.  It is not much bigger, but it is by enough to possibly make a difference to someone looking for something small.

Lenses: The lenses are an unknown quantity.  I was told by a Samsung rep they were developed in-house and not in conjunction with their usual partner, high-end lens manufacturer Schneider.  Without sharp lenses the large sensor meaningless.  It could be that the Samsung lenses will be excellent (and I expect them to be at least competent) but with Olympus and Panasonic there is an established track record of excellent optics.

No Camera-Based Image Stabilization: I prefer sensor-based image stabilization, especially for this type of camera and the Samsung NX10 doesn’t have it.  There will be optically stabilized lenses though, so it is almost a wash.

How much?

Preliminary info is pointing towards a $699 price tag for the Samsung NX10, complete with 18-55 lens.  If that holds and the pictures it produces are good, this camera should be a home run.

In the final analysis…

In the end it will come down to whether the camera can create images that are competitive with its Micro Four-Thirds and digital SLR competitors.  I have not been thrilled with Samsung’s compacts in the past, and their digital SLRs were just re-branded Pentaxes.  Still, I have a very good feeling about the Samsung NX10 based on my own impressions and sample images I have seen.  If I had to place a bet, I would bet that it is going to be a winner and open up the digital camera market for Samsung.  Not all that long ago Samsung was considered a budget TV manufacturer.  Now Samsung is considered a cutting-edge top-tier television manufacturer.  This could be the start of something similar for their digital photography division.

See the NX10 on Samsung’s website .

Questions? Email Don

See you tomorrow for the Product of the Day!

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