Camera

Samsung NX10: More Review and Photos

In my last NX10 post, I blogged about the immediate experiences on the first 24 hours. During that review, I focused on what matters to me. In this review, I shall continue to talk more about the camera and the other areas that I got to experience more over the week.

I would like to make it clear that like most other reviews in my blog, it is not a technical review. If you want to know how fast the NX10 switches on down to the millisecond, or how much ISO noise the NX10 exhibits compared to the peers, or the entire list of features in the NX10, these are available on the professional review sites like DPreview.com . What I am offering here are real experiences when using the camera and how the features work and doesn’t work in certain situations.

1. How compact is NX10?
It’s so much smaller than my Nikon D300, considering they are using the same sensor size, and NX10 has a 14.6mp sensor compared to D300’s 12mp. But it’s not compact enough to fit nicely in the pocket, despite mounted with the smallest 30mm “pancake” lens. I find it hard to carry around without a bag, unlike the ST550, where I can easily slip into my pocket.
(I don’t have the other hybrid cameras with me to do side-by-side comparison, but you can find out from DPreview.com. Sorry for keep mentioning that site, but I absolutely love the information they provided for the photographic community.)

2. Can the NX10 handle fast subjects – like children?
The NX10 can only be as fast as the user who demands it. Simply put, it depends on your expectations. For me, it’s certainly not fast enough. To shoot children, you need fast continuous AF, fast shutter response, and immediate refocus after a shot is taken. Such demands can only be fulfilled by a DSLR. When using the NX10 to shoot my child, she has to be quite still when I half-press to lock the focus, and has to be at the same focal length that I locked when I press the shutter. This didn’t happen half the time. However, I can still capture images of her that are slightly out of focus. 

3. The AF speed seems slow.
I would want to reserve my comment on this one against NX10 since the AF speed depends on the lens. DSLR users should know this dependency. What I experienced is that the NX10 requires to fine-tune focus before it locks, unlike DSLRs where it locks the moment the focus point is reached.

4. Oops, the focus-shutter-lag syndrome.
I forgot to test this during my first 24 hours, and now that I tested, it’s unfortunate that NX10 has this. Basically, if you full-press the shutter before the focus is locked, the shutter will only fire once the focus is locked a few milliseconds later. Basically, no change of mind once you hit the shutter. The workaround is simply to half-press every shot, make sure the focus is locked, the subject is where you wanted, then full-press.

5. No review on the ISO noise?
I might set something up next week, but from what I see, ISO 800 is good enough for non-professional use, ISO 1600 might get you some chroma noise, and ISO 3200 is still usable for monotone or casual shots (it’s better to catch something grainy but sharp than clean but blur).

6. Photos, please.
OK, here are some photos representative of the qualities of NX10. To conserve space, I have resized them to 1200 pixels on the long side using Picasa, certainly not the best resizing tool, but it should be representative of a web user. All shots are taken with 30mm lens, without any post-processing image adjustments, unless otherwise specified.

Top: ISO 100, 1/800s, f10. Processed to increase saturation and colour.

Above: ISO 1600, 1/80s, f2. The only way to shoot this while driving is to set everything in manual, including focusing. So I just snapped without requiring the camera to do any focusing or metering.

Above: ISO 1600, 1/4000, f2. The only way I could get this shot is manual focus and fast shutter. The NX10 allows me to get sharp focus reliably via the 3″ screen.

Below: ISO 800, 1/80s, f2.8. Only kids room can get so colourful. Slight saturation boost.

Below: ISO 800, 1/180s, f2.8. Shallow depth-of-field. Slight saturation boost.

Any chance that hybrids can be better than DSLRs?
I guess most of the other camera features could be evolved to match the current DSLR standard, but of course the DSLR would not wait for competition. By the time hybrids make it, the DSLR would have evolved with better features.

The “flaw” that DSLR will always face is the need for image and shutter blackout due to the mirror mechanism (unless they become hybrids themselves!). The advantage of a mirrorless camera – apart from size – is the mirrorless mechanism. Technically-speaking, there should not be any blackout, since there is no blockage whatsoever. I envision one day that hybrid cameras will be able to stream live view continuously even when a shot is taken. It’s like capturing a still image during video recording on a camcorder, where some good models are capable of.

Until then, there is no substitute for a real DSLR. And face it: quality comes in a big package.

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