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I know it’s not that important, but I feel this category of camera needs a name. How about MILC? Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera.
Along with models from Olympus, Panasonic and Sony these radical MILCs have attracted many followers, willing to forgo a turret viewfinder so that the camera’s form factor and weight can be shrunk, along with partnered lenses. The end result is an easily pocketable camera that, even with a full brace of lenses in your carry kit, can be taken painlessly anywhere.
The aim is to bring high quality photography to many more people, those willing to embrace a more complex camera and enjoy the expanded picture making horizons this provides… but unwilling to involve the heavy lifting (both physical and metaphorical) that DSLRs bring to the game.
You can use a MILC exactly like a budget priced compact digicam, simply, quickly and enjoyably but, when the time comes, employ it just like a professional level snapper.
Enter the NX100.
For the record, the camera’s APS-C sized CMOS sensor offers a maximum image size of 4592X3056 pixels or, as a print, 39x26cm output. MPEG4 movies are captured at a maximum resolution of 1280×720 pixels, up to 25 minutes in length.
Samsung introduced its pioneer NX10 camera earlier in 2010 and now feels the time is right for it to move onto the next level with the NX100.
Unburdened by tradition, the company does do things very differently with this camera’s layout.
From the kick off, I’m ashamed to admit it, but I had to scan the instruction manual to find the power button and eventually discovered a tiny black slider hidden away at the camera’s right edge.
The usual things are where they should be: the mode dial is on top, providing entrée to auto, Program AE, shutter or aperture priority options — plus manual and a brace of scene modes. The top deck also has the selector jog dial and shutter button.
The rear houses a 7.6cm AMOLED screen, four way rocker wheel and sundry menu and function buttons. There is not a forest of external controls, which may faze some people but control freaks can still have their day with the exceptionally clear LCD menus that take you into detailed control of picture options.
And then… Samsung’s big contribution to easy image making: the i-Function Lens; at this stage, there are two i-Function lenses available.
The review camera was supplied with an unstabilised i-Function Samsung f3.5-5.6/20-50mm zoom; on the lens’ left flank (viewed from behind) was a tiny button which, depending on exposure options (Program AE, etc) took you immediately into the parameter controls like ISO, shutter speed, white balance, aperture, etc. You can do this without need to access the menus or to put the camera down. The i-Function recognises what type of lens? and so varies the options available. Once accustomed to it, I loved the feature.
From top to bottom: ISO 100, 400, 800, 1600. Great quality, little noise.
Still OK at ISO 3200 but ISDO 6400 is a little too far!
The review camera’s 20-50mm zoom presented no distortion at either the wide or tele end of the zoom… a good performance, but it is a short range zoom.
Quick: from power on to first shot, about a second; follow-ons, a little over a second apart.
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Quality: exceptionally sharp images were the result of my shooting foray and I must say it was an enjoyable task to quickly slip the camera out of my pocket and fire away when needed.
However, no matter whether you call it LCD, LED, AMOLED or whatever, these screens are useless in bright sunlight. Better to take on an accessory finder!
Why you would buy it: you want to shoot better pictures than a compact can capture; you need a light and easy camera to use.
Why you wouldn’t: you don’t want a camera that feels ‘plasticky’; some lenses are not stabilised.
Some extra notes: there is an accessory K-mount lens adaptor; additional accessories include flash, a GPS module and an electronic viewfinder. The camera is available in white or black; there is a depth of field preview button at the side of the camera.
And finally, Samsung’s implementation of RAW requires that you use the supplied application (Samsung RAW Converter) to process and save files in TIFF or JPEG etc for later use in Photoshop or similar. This has a wide range of controls to process the image but some may feel it gets in the way!
Image Sensor: 14.6 million effective pixels.
Metering: Multi pattern, centre-weighted and spot.
Sensor Size: APS-C-sized CMOS (23.4×15.6mm).
Lens Factor: 1.5x.
Lens: Samsung NX mount.
Shutter Speed: 30 to 1/4000 second, Bulb.
Continuous Shooting: three/ten JPEG shots/second (LCD on/off); three RAW shots/second.
Memory: SD, SDHC cards.
Image Sizes (pixels): 4592×3056 to 1280×1280.
Movies: 1280×720, 640×480, 320×240 at 30 fps.
Colour Space: sRGB, Adobe RGB.
LCD Screen: 7.6cm LCD (614,000 pixels).
File Formats: JPEG, RAW, JPEG+RAW, MPEG4.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 6400.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI, AV, DC.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC input.
Dimensions: 120.5x71x34.5mm WHDmm.
Weight: 340 g (inc battery and card).
Price: Get a price on the Samsung NX100 with a Samsung NX 20-50mm lens at Amazon.