Samsung NX100 review
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.
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.
"the 20mm wide angle makes it more flexible than the kit lens that comes with most entry-level DSLRs"
Every other current entry level kit lens starts at 18mm. Did you mean to say less flexible?
By Mark_Thompson on 4 Feb 2011
You are, of course, correct Mark. I must have had my 35mm head on when I wrote that line (showing my age...). Now corrected.
By JonBray on 4 Feb 2011
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