Olympus and Panasonic were the first companies to launch compact, dSLR-esque cameras with interchangeable lenses. But Samsung's offering, the NX10, is the first such camera to use a dSLR-sized, APS-C format sensor, and one with a juicy 14.6-megapixel resolution at that. At around £490 with the 18-55mm kit lens, the NX10 could really stir things up.
Pow for your pound
The NX10 really does offer you plenty for your money. A 14.6-megapixel resolution isn't quite the highest you can go with an APS-C sensor, but it's not far off. These bigger sensors haven't yet reached the megapixel saturation of smaller cameras, so more megapixels are still worth having -- for now.
The NX10 is also the first example of a brand new camera type, and such models usually cost an arm and a leg. But that's not the case with the NX10. Price-wise, it's highly competitive, and, on the basis of its specs alone, it's ready to slug it out with conventional low-end and mid-range dSLRs.
The dimensions are a surprise, too. The sensor might be twice the size of those in Micro Four Thirds cameras from Olympus and Panasonic, but the NX10 itself isn't. In fact, if you put the NX10 side by side with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1, it actually looks slightly slimmer.
The NX10 looks good, it's well-made and the 18-55mm kit lens does a very impressive job. It's sharp right to the edges of the frame, and there's no sign of any chromatic aberration. It's certainly a long way from the rough old 18-55mm lens that used to ship with Samsung's GX-series dSLRs. If Samsung's other lenses live up to the promise of this one, the NX10 could prove something of a star.
The electronic viewfinder is good (as far as EVFs can be), the 76mm (3-inch) AMOLED LCD display on the back is sharp and clear, and the contrast-detection autofocus is quick -- conventional dSLRs with live view are hopeless in comparison with this.
There are downsides, however. The NX10 could really do with a tilt-and-swivel LCD display, as you get on Panasonic's G-series Micro Four Thirds cameras. There are also buttons everywhere. It's too easy to press them by mistake, and the menu button, for some reason, has been put way off at the top left of the camera. Our camera's orientation sensor had a few funny moments too, especially when the camera was pointed downwards to take a picture.
The main issue, though, is the camera's size. Yes, it's smaller than a dSLR, but is it enough to make any practical difference? By the time you've stuck the lens on, the NX10 isn't vastly different in terms of size to a Canon EOS 1000D, say, or a Nikon D3000 -- you'll still need to put it in a camera bag or hang it on a strap around your neck. It doesn't weigh as much, but we're only talking about a few tens of grams.
Samsung's done a good job with the NX10. It's the first mirror-less system camera with an APS-C sensor, but there's nothing at all rushed or half-baked about it. It works very well, delivers great pictures and offers real value for money too. The size savings compared to a dSLR aren't huge, but the full-time live view, lighter weight and simpler design could be enough to tempt users away from conventional dSLRs.
Edited by Charles Kloet