Samsung NX100 review

3 Feb 2011

A competent SLD camera with an excellent lens, but disappointing everywhere else

Price when reviewed: 
387(£387 inc VAT)
4

Cameras that hark back to the rangefinder designs of the 1970s are nothing new, but the Samsung NX100 takes things a step further than most. As well as offering SLR-like features in a compact-style body, Samsung adds controls to the kit lens of this 14.6-megapixel camera, which allow you to change ISO, aperture and shutter speed with a twist of the focus ring.

It sounds great on paper, and for a moment or two it’s actually quite fun to use. Hit the iFn button on the barrel, and a menu pops up on the camera’s glorious 3in AMOLED screen; keep pressing the button until you reach the setting you want to change, and spin the focus ring to adjust.

It’s a system that was originally designed for, and worked well with, cameras that had optical viewfinders. Alas, it doesn’t work so well here. When you have to hold the camera out in front of you to see the screen, clawing your hand around the front to reach the lens isn’t very comfortable. Using the controls on the rear of the body doesn’t prove much more responsive or comfortable either.

Samsung NX100

In manual mode, the dial on top of the camera is used to adjust shutter speed, with the spinning d-pad used for aperture, and trying to move quickly between both is an exercise in contortion. Despite having a larger body than our current favourite SLD (single lens direct view) camera, the Sony NEX-3, the NX100 manages to be less comfortable to use.

What’s worse, though, is that the inclusion of the iFN system appears to have come at the expense of optical image stabilisation, and that means flexibility in low light suffers. This is exacerbated by a lack of built-in flash and mediocre low ISO performance. Up to ISO 800 images are clear and finely-detailed.

At ISO 1600, shots are usable but noise is noticeable, with small purple spots scattered beginning to appear across our test images; and we wouldn’t recommend shooting at ISO 3200 or the camera’s maximum of ISO 6400. It isn’t a patch on the Sony NEX-3 or the Sony NEX-5, despite boasting a DSLR-rivalling APS-C sensor.

Details

Price ex VAT £323
Price inc VAT £387
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 3
Image quality 5
Value for Money 3

Basic specifications

Camera megapixel rating 14.6mp
Camera screen size 3.0in
Camera optical zoom range 3x
Camera maximum resolution 4592 x 3056

Weight and dimensions

Dimensions 121 x 71 x 35mm (WDH)

Battery

Battery type included Lithium-ion
Battery life (CIPA standard) 420 shots
Charger included? yes

Other specifications

Built-in flash? no
Aperture range f3.5 - f5.6
Shortest focal length (35mm equivalent) 20
Longest focal length (35mm equivalent) 50
Minimum (fastest) shutter speed 1/4,000
Maximum (slowest) shutter speed 30s
Bulb exposure mode? yes
RAW recording mode? yes
Exposure compensation range +/- 2EV
ISO range 100 - 3200
Selectable white balance settings? yes
Manual/user preset white balane? yes
Progam auto mode? yes
Shutter priority mode? yes
Aperture priority mode? yes
Fully auto mode? yes
Burst frame rate 2.8fps
Exposure bracketing? yes
White-balance bracketing? yes
Memory-card type SD
Viewfinder coverage N/A
Secondary LCD display? no
Video/TV output? yes
Body construction Plastic
Tripod mounting thread? yes
Data connector type Proprietary USB

Manual, software and accessories

Software supplied Samsung RAW Converter 4