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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Samsung NX10

Samsung Digital Cameras


Samsung NX10 Review

Review Date: May 17, 2010

Category: Beginner to Serious Amateur

Samsung NX10

Photoxels Editor's Choice 2010 - Compact DIL/DSLR
Photoxels Editor's Choice 2010 - Compact DIL/DSLR


The Samsung NX10 is a technological tour de force for Samsung: it has succeeded in building a mirrorless DSLR that is as small and light as its micro FourThirds competition. And that feat is even more spectacular when you realize it is using an APS-C size image sensor with approx. 50% greater surface area than the FourThirds image sensor.

As the first 100% Samsung-made Digital Interchangeable Lens camera (Samsung calls it a 'Hybrid'), the NX10 feels like it's been designed and built by a company that has been successfully building DSLRs for many years. Either Samsung has learned fast from its competitors, or it does not seem to have been fazed, much less challenged, by the technological hurdles in building such a camera.

Though compact and with a hard plastic body, the NX10 feels very well built and handles very well for its small size. Though the grip looks small, don't let it fool you: it allows you to hold the camera securely and a rubber coating at the front of the hand grip and at the thumb rest adds to that security. With the 18-55mm lens attached, your left hand supports the lens barrel comfortably. Your right thumb is positioned against the Mode Dial. I like the fact that the back of the top plate has been smartly smoothened over so you are not resting your thumb against a hard corner. The result is a compact DIL camera that handles extremely well.

Like the micro Four Thirds cameras, the compactness of the NX10 is achieved by cleverly removing the mirror and prism mechanisms and using full-time Live View and EVF. The Live View and Contrast Detection AF on the NX10 are fast, precise and, in actual field use, we feel they easily match the reliability and performance of the optical viewfinder and Phase-detect AF of an entry-level DSLR.

As with all mirrorless DSLRs, when you remove the lens, the sensor is exposed. Well, there is a filter in front of it and it will vibrate when Sensor Cleaning is working to shake off any dust that may have collected on it when you change lens. Sensor Cleaning can either be performed manually via the Menu [Menu - Setting 3 - Sensor Cleaning] or set to work automatically every time the camera starts up [Menu - Setting 3 - Start-Up Action - On]. Since Sensor Cleaning adds about 2 long extra seconds to the startup time, we would have preferred an option to perform it at shutdown instead.

The NX10 uses a mechanical shutter, which means that it is not totally quiet in use. However, the shutter sound is very pleasant.

The little circular lamp besides the Shutter Release button is the AF-assist light / Self-timer lamp. Note that if you use the lens hood, the AF-assist light may be partially blocked.

The NX10 is, by design, features, and positioning, solidly in the DSLR camp. The NX10 is designed to work as closely as possible like a traditional DSLR. We like the fact that it uses a consistent approach to selecting options using its control buttons. You press a control button to bring up the available options for that function, then rotate the well-placed Dial to select an option. Press OK (or simply touch the Shutter Release button) to confirm your choice. This removes any confusion as to whether you need to press a button twice or use the directional keys or rotate the Dial.

The NX10 display (the EVF shows the same display as the AMOLED screen) for shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation is one of the nicest we've seen on a DSLR. Instead of tiny numbers and barely legible icons that you need to squint at, the NX10 shows the shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation clearly in 2 distinct and attractive windows at the bottom of the screen. I like the color scheme also: In P mode, the shutter speed and aperture values display white letterings on black; in A mode, the aperture value gains an additional blue background highlight; in S mode, it is the shutter value that now has the blue background highlight; and in M mode, the shutter speed or the aperture has the blue background highlight, depending on which one you're changing when scrolling the Dial. The exposure compensation window is also clearly legible black letterings on a white background.

Startup time is fast at 0.5 sec. from power on to LCD turning on. If Sensor Cleaning is set to work at power on, startup time increases to approx. 2.5 sec. Shot to shot time is about 1 sec. (I was able to take 10 pics in 10 sec.), and there is no practical shutter lag. Autofocus is fast and precise in both good and low light (though you may need to adjust the AF Frame sizesmaller to obtain focus lock in low light).

The NX10 uses the Secure Digital (SD) Card (including the large capacity SDHC cards).

Here's how the entry-level DSLRs measure up against one another, without lens attached and without battery and card:

Camera W
Nikon D5000 (DSLR) 127 104 80 560
Pentax K200D (DSLR) 133.5 95 74 630
Canon T2i/550D (DSLR) 128.8 97.5 75.3 530
Sony A-230 (DSLR) 128 97 67.5 452
Olympus E-620 (DSLR) 130 94 60 475
Nikon D60 (DSLR) 126 94 64 475
Olympus E-450 (DSLR) 129.5 91 53 380
Panasonic GH1 (DIL) 124 89.6 45.2 385
Samsung NX10 (DIL) 123 87 39.8 353
Olympus E-P1 (DIL) 120.5 70 35 335
Panasonic GF1 (DIL) 119 71 36.3 285
Panasonic FZ28 (Ultra Zoom) 117.6 75.3 88.9
(incl. 18x optical zoom lens)

As you can see, the NX10 is just a little smaller in size than the Olympus E-450. Just for fun, we have also thrown in a non-DSLR, the Panasonic FZ28, an 18x optical ultra zoom digital camera, for comparison.

- Colors: black or silver
- Looks: attractive and professional

Good non-slip handgrip, stable one-handed hold.
Dial is well positioned behind shutter release button

- Controls are on the small side but click well
- Carry using shoulder/neck strap or just hold in hand
- Dimensions: 123 x 87 x 39.8 mm /
4.8 x 3.4 x 1.6 in.
- Weight: 353 g / 0.78 lbs (Body)
- Takes 1 rechargeable Li-ion battery BP1310 7.4V 1300mAh 9.6Wh (400 shots/charge)
- Startup and LCD turning on in about 0.5 sec. (2.5 sec. with Sensor Cleaning)
- Shot to shot time approx. 1 sec.
- No practical shutter lag

Included in the box is a rechargeable Li-ion battery BP1310 that can take about 400 shots (Samsung numbers) on a fresh charge and a Battery Charger BC1310 that will recharge a new battery in approx. 150 min.


Samsung NX10 Top View
Mouseover for closeup view of top controls

Samsung NX10 Top View (with 30mm [46.2mm equiv.] F2 pancake lens)

The top of the camera has, on the right side: the Shutter Release Button, Power ON/OFF switch around the Shutter Release Button, the Dial just behind the Shutter Release Button, the Green Button, the Drive mode button, and the Mode Dial; on the left side are the Flash Button and the speaker behind it.

The Image Stabilization is optical, i.e. lens based. The NX10 accepts interchangeable lenses and the optical image stabilization feature is found on the lens itself. On the 18-55mm lens, the OIS switch is on the left side of the lens. Switch it to the ON position, then go into the MENU [Menu - M3 - OIS] to select one of 2 possible modes: set it to MODE1 for the most effective stabilization, which takes place just before the image is taken; or to MODE2, if you want to see the effect of image stabilization at all times, useful when using a long telephoto lens when it is difficult to keep subject centered on the screen. IS seems to gain about 2 stops.

Manual Focus is also set by a switch on the lens. Note that the display is magnified only about 2x.

Just like on a DSLR, there is a Dial to set shutter speed and aperture, to change Menu settings in Shooting mode and to scroll thru pictures in Playback. I like that it is on top just behind the shutter release button instead of in front under the shutter release button or at the back under your thumb. Rotate it using your index finger and you can quickly change the aperture in Aperture-Priority mode, the shutter speed in Shutter-Priority mode, and both in Manual mode (defaults to shutter; press the Exposure Compensation button to set aperture). In P mode, rotate it to engage Program Shift.

The Green Button is a bit of a mystery at first and the User Manual is cryptic about it. Press it and nothing happens, not even a display on the screen. Turns out it is a RESET button (green is a strange color choice and Samsung should just label it properly). When you are in Program Shift mode, Exposure Compensation, WB Adjustment or AF Area, press the Green Button to immediately reset to their default values. Nice.

The Mode Dial rotates freely clockwise and anti-clockwise. It has 10 shooting modes on it: Smart Auto, the PASM modes, Night, Portrait and Landscape, Scene, and Movie.

There is a Drive Mode Button besides the Green Button. Options are: Single, Continuous (3fps), Burst (30 shots in approx. 1.5 sec. at 1472x976 pixels), Timer (2 - 30 sec.), AE BKT, WB BKT, PWiz BKT.

The Picture Wizard (PWiz) has 9 Preset values for Standard, Vivid, Portrait, Landscape, Forest, Retro, Cool, Calm and Classic, plus you can further finely adjust color, saturation, sharpness and contrast. PWiz BKT will take 3 shots with different picture wizard settings that are defaulted to Standard, Vivid and Portrait but that you can specify whatever you want in Setup [Menu - Shooting 3 - BKT Set - PWiz BKT Set - select 3].

Samsung NX10 with built-in flash opened

Samsung NX10 with built-in flash opened

The pop-up flash automatically pops up when needed in Smart Auto mode. In other modes, the pop-up flash must be manually opened when needed.

You can attach an optional external speedlight in the hot shoe. Currently there are two optional external speedlights: SEF 20A and SEF 42A. Both have a bounce head.

Other useful optional accessories include: Cabled Remote Shutter Release (SR9NX01); HDMI cable (CBHD15C); various filters; AC Adapter (AD9NX01); and a Lens Mount for Pentax K Mount lenses (MANXKM).

On the left side, the hinged plastic Terminal door is plastic and opens wide to conveniently give access to the DC-IN port, HDMI port, shutter release connection port, and USB/AV OUT port. No need to struggle with rubber covers.

Samsung NX10 Back View

Samsung NX10 Back View

FUNCTIONS ACCESSIBLE BY CONTROL BUTTONS (clockwise starting from the MENU button)

MENU button to the left of the EVF.


Diopter adjustment dial on left side of EVF (quite difficult to adjust).

- Eye Sensor. Automatically switches between the EVF and the display monitor when you bring your eye to the viewfinder or away from the viewfinder.
- EV button. Press and hold down with thumb while rotating the Dial. In Manual mode, use to set the aperture value.
- AEL button. Can be set to AEL (lock exposure only), AFL (lock focus only) or AEL+AFL (lock both). [Menu - User setup - Key Mapping - AEL]. In Playback mode, protects/unprotects a picture.
- DISPLAY button. In Recording mode, press repeatedly to cycle thru No Display, Normal, Grid. In Playback, press repeatedly to cycle thru No Display, Info, RGB Histograms. When the Menu has been activated, pressing the DISP button displays a short description of the highlighted function.
- FN button. Conveniently brings up Photo Size, Image Quality, AF ARea, Flash, Color Space, Smart [HDR] Range, OIS.

Directional buttons: UP (AF mode), RIGHT (WB), DOWN (ISO), LEFT (Metering).

OK / AF Area button in the middle accepts a screen choice when Menu is activated or calls up the AF Area in Shooting mode.


DELETE / Picture Wizard button. In Playback mode, allows you to delete one or more pictures. However, to delete all, you must unfortunately go into the Menu. In Shooting mode, displays the Picture Wizard.

- Playback button. Use RIGHT and LEFT or rotate the Dial to scroll thru the pictures. Press the Green button to enlarge, the Drive button to reduce view and to view thumbnails.
- Exposure compensation is accessed by pressing and holding down the EV button and rotating the Dial.
- Once set, the Exposure Compensation Indicator conveniently stays displayed on screen until it is reset to "0"
- Range: -3 EV to +3 EV (in 1/3 EV increments)
- The screen brightness will increase or decrease to reflect the value you use
- Note: the exposure compensation value selected is retained even when the camera is turned off. When you turn it back on, exposure compensation is still set but does not display until you touch the Shutter Button to take a picture. So remember to reset to "0" after using it or the next time you turn the camera on, your shots may be over- or under-exposed.
- PASM: 30 - 1/4,000 sec.
M: B (approx. 8 min.)

The 3.0-in. AMOLED display has a high 614k-dot resolution while the EVF has 921k-dot resolution. Both are very clear with a bright and smooth display. How much better is the AMOLED versus a traditional LCD? You can view the display at an extreme angle and still see a bright contrasty image. In other words, top notch. The user interface is simply beautiful with the right choice of graphics.

The high resolution EVF is bright and clear with the easiest to read display I've seen. It is much better than the optical viewfinder found on many entry-level DSLRs. An eye sensor allows you to switch seamlessly between the EVF and LCD.

Because the AMOLED and viewfinder are electronic, it is possible to display a Live Histogram on both. The EVF/AMOLED gain up very well in low-light situations.

The control buttons are small but are precise with good tactile feedback. If, like me, you are used to an OK/Menu button, the Menu button on the NX10 will at first feel oddly situated in its current location: to the left of the viewfinder. The OK button on the NX10 brings up the AF Area in Shooting Mode. One improvement suggestion I have concerning the controls is to make the Diopter adjustment dial (which is on the left side of EVF) easier to adjust.

There is a very nice Battery/Card door and the battery has a latch to keep it from accidentally falling. You may be able to change battery when the camera is on a tripod. The tripod socket is metal and inline with the lens.

Samsung NX10

Preview is possible by pressing the Depth Preview button located just besides the lens. This button can be reset to perform One Touch WB instead.

The Samsung NX10 is further proof that the heavy and cumbersome mirror and prism contraptions in a traditional DSLR are not needed anymore, at least in entry-level DSLRs. The NX10 delivers DSLR image quality and features in a compact and lightweight body with superb handling. If you are tired of the bulk of a DSLR (even the compact entry-level ones), give the NX10 a try. You might be very glad that you did.

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