Samsung passed me the kit lens, 18-55mm f3.5-5.6, over the weekend for a review. This kit lens’ specs is no different from the majority of the kit lens out there offered by most camera makers.

If 30mm makes NX10 perform beyond expectations, 18-55mm relegates the NX10 to mere mortal. Here’s why:

– small aperture, and varies with zoom length.
– problems focusing, probably because it’s not as bright as the f2.0 on the 30mm lens.
– the lens mount to the camera is plastic, while the 30mm is metal.
– less sharp, noticeably more optic artifacts like chromatic aberrations when viewed from the AMOLED screen. I don’t get that razor-sharp experience like I did from the 30mm.
– focusing ring less responsive than 30mm one. I seem to need to turn a lot more.
– due to small aperture, the live monitor is more grainy, as the monitor auto-gains to show the live images.
– standard 18-55mm zoom range is neither here nor there (converted to 35mm, the zoom range is 27-82mm).
– variable aperture reduces shooting experience. I abhor that. I like to shoot in manual exposure, but zooming in and out changes the aperture, and thus my exposure.

But hey, I do like the lens for:

– AF/MF switch allows me to toggle quickly
– zoom allows flexible framing compared to 30mm
– Optical Image Stabiliser

My personal view is that one of the key success of gaining market share in the hybrid camera market is lenses availability. Despite having early-mover advantages, Panasonic and Olympus still do not have sufficient lenses to win the buyers votes. Many DSLR users are looking to “downgrade” to hybrid cameras but they are still waiting to find out which makers provide better lenses and variety. The APS-C sensor doesn’t necessarily pose any selling advantage at this point because buyers who are concerned with sensor size would be just a particular with lens quality and variety. And looking at the sheer number of DSLR users walking around in shopping malls, I’d say the hybrid camera market has great potential in winning this segment over.

With the hands-on experience I get from Samsung NX10, the lines between compact camera and DSLR has finally become indistinguishable. I am really using the NX10 with the mindset of a compact camera, but with the added advantages of changing lenses and superior image quality given the right lenses. It still possesses limitations not uncommon for compact cameras, but its performance is closer to the DSLR.

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