Samsung NX100 Mirrorless Camera

A mirrorless camera is an alternative to a DSLR. Mirrorless cameras are compact cameras with large ASP-C sensor. These cameras bring image quality, speed, interchangeable lenses and portability to the hands of advanced  photographers. Samsung is another company to enter the market with a new mirrorless camera, the NX100. The Samsung NX100 is intended for both beginner and advanced photographers. As the market share of mirrorless cameras gets bigger, Samsung wants to become one of its eaders.

Samsung has promised us new innovations, and hopefully it will impress us with its new digital camera. In this preview I want to take a closer look at the Samsung NX100 camera, hopefully to finish this preview with a good impression. This is the second mirrorless digital camera from Samsung. The first one was the NX10. The NX10 was already packed with great features, including 720p HD movie capture, 3.0" 921K-dots AMOLED screen and high resolution EVF.  Even so, Samsung wanted to take this camera to a new level. Let's see what Samsung was managed to come up with this time.

Camera Design

The first big change with the NX100 is the size and shape of the camera. The NX100 has a compact (120.5 (W) x71.0 (H) x 34.5 (D) mm) curved body shape. Actually, it looks more modern than other mirrorless cameras on the market today. This mirrorless camera doesn't have a "vintage" look like Olympus PEN cameras. On the back of the NX100 you can find a stunning 3.0-inch VGA AMOLED display. The advantage of AMOLDEN display is bright colors, wide viewing angles, high contrast and faster response times, when compared to other displays. 

Samsung NX100 Mirrorless camera
Stylish and Modern Mirrorless digital camera

I think that Samsung wanted to keep the look clean, sleek and simple. After all, if it wanted to capture a the heart of amateur and family photographers, the camera needs to have a stylish and clean design. Samsung will need to convince consumers, that they'd better buy the NX100, rather than a conventional digital camera. You can see from their NX100 page that they emphasize the image quality aspects of the new camera. They used slogans like "Stunning photos in style" and "Perfect picture". The NX100 is all about image quality and modern design as you can probably see.

However, Samsung needs to convince the advanced photographers, that they'd better bought the NX100, rather than a camera with a small sensor. Personally, I think that Samsung came to a more mature market, which understand the differences between a cheap compact camera and a DSLR. There are many families of have both DSLR and consumer cameras at home. Advanced photographers can better comprehend the advantaged of having a large sensor inside the camera. When they become aware of this advantage, and don't want to carry a bulky camera, mirror-less cameras are the only way to go.

Samsung emphasizes the fact that the sensor size matters, quote: "Super large image sensor...".  So yes, it is about trendy camera design, portability and of course, superior image quality.

OK, enough of the marketing overview stuff, let's get right to the heart of the Samsung NX100...

Let's start with Samsung NX100 advertisement video:

Another introduction video of the camera's key features:

14.6-megapixel ASP-C CMOS Sensor

The NX100 employs a 14.6 (effective) ASP-C CMOS sensor (23.4 x 15.6mm). This is technically the same sensor that was used in the NX10. With a large sensor and high pixel count, you will be able to print large pictures and have more room for cropping.

i-Function - Controlling the NX100 through the Lens

This is a unique and innovative approach from Samsung. The i-Function let you increase or decrease the composition parameter's value, by using the i-Function focus ring on the lens. Composition adjustments are now very easy to accomplish. The alternative was to dive through the menu system and change the settings. It's like having a speed control  on a steering wheel in your car. The i-Function lens is recognized by the camera built-in i-Scene mode. When you attach the i-Function lens to the camera (NX-mount), the camera automatically recognized the lens, and optimizes the camera for that particular lens.

Brown NX100 with a iFunction (iFn) compatible lens

On Samsung's i-Function compatible lenses, you can find a dedicated iFn button. This button lets you change the ISO, shutter speed, aperture, EV and White Balance settings, using the lens. Maybe soon, we will see this kind of functionality on DSLR interchangeable lenses.

Here is a video introduction to the world's first i-Function lens and other various NX100 features:

i-Function lens in action:

The main advantage of having a professional DSLR camera, is the fact that you have a quick access to different camera settings, So now this kind of functionality is brought to mirrorless digital cameras. Of course there isn't enough room for many buttons in mirrorless cameras, because its compact. So the i-Function is a good alternative (in some aspects) to what professional photographers have on their high-end DSLR cameras.

You can test the i-Function Simulator (iFn) online on website.
Right now, there are two i-Function compatible lenses: 20-50mm f3.5-5.6 ED (kit) and the 20mm f2.8 panckae lens.

Sound Picture - Pictures with Sound

With the Samsung NX100 mirrorless camera, you can record surrounding sounds, before and after to taking the picture. Wouldn't it be great to listen to 20 seconds of recorded audio while flipping through your digital photo album?
This is a useful feature for family photographers. With a touch of a button, you can record a "Happy Birthday!" sound while watching a photo of your child putting out the candles in his birthday. The "Sound Picture" feature is limited to 20 seconds of sound recording. It will capture 10 seconds of sound before the camera shutter is pressed, and 10 seconds after you release the image has been captured.

720p HD Movie Capture

If you want the ultimate photographic experience, try Samsung's HD movie recording functionality.  The Samsung NX100 offers 720p@30fps videos for recording HD video clips in H.264 format and manorial  sound. If you are a beginner photographer, you should know that the main advantage of the NX100 in capturing video clips, is that it has a large sensor. With large sensor, you have better control over depth-of-field. It means that you can (with the right lens) blur the background and emphasize the subject in the picture, This blurry optical effect is much less emphasized with consumer-level digital cameras. The small sensor is the reason for that. Who have thought that we would capture HD movies with compact digital cameras a few years ago?

Here is a Samsung NX100 video test sample shot int 720p/30 (taken from a Helicopter):

Now a low light 720p 30fps video sample:

More NX100 Specs

  • 3.0fps continuous shooting (10 JPEG/3 RAW)
  • Fast 15-point contrast-detect AF (modes: Single AF, Continuous AF, MF)
  • 247 segment metering
  • ISO 100-3200 (ISO 6400 in extended mode)
  • Hot shoe for an external flash (SEF42A, SEF20A, SEF15A) and external GPS receiver (GPS10 module, optional)
  • Battery life: 420 images
  • Apply in-camera filters to the image
  • Super Sonic Drive dust reduction system
  • 1/4000 sec maximum shutter speed
  • Self timer: 2 - 30 sec (1 s step)
  • Scene modes: Beauty shot, Children,  Text, Sunset, Dawn, Fireworks, Beach & Snow, Night, Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Sound Picture, Close Up, Backlight.
  • HDMI 2.0 port
  • SD/SDHC compatible
  • Available in Black,White and Brown colors
 I have seen the external GPS receiver for automatically geotagging photos in camera. It is a bit awkward when you snap it to the Samsung NX100 hot sho. Why Samsung couldn't come up with in-camera GPS receiver like the one in the Sony A55.

Samsung NX10 vs. NX100

When you compare the Samsung NX10 vs. NX100, you can see that the NX100 is somehow a smaller version of the NX10.

Bot the NX10 and the NX100 have an identical sensor and imaging processor. The NX10 is bigger in size (123 x 87 x 40 mm) compared to the NX100 (120 x 71 x 35 mm). The NX10 has an EVF, whether the NX100 EFV has an optional camera accessory (via SMART SHOE).  The NX100 has a built in flash, while the NX10 has it as an optional accessory. 

The Samsung NX10 also has a higher resolution (921K-dots) AMOLED display, compared to the 614K-dots of the NX100. The NX10 is also bulkier and heavier in comparison to the NX10 digital camera. In terms of prices, the NX10 is approximately $100 more than the NX100.

In terms of which one is better, the NX10 or the NX100, in terms of image quality, I think that they both wil perform the same. The NX100 is targeted to different markets than the NX10. The NX100 has the i-Function advantage, that allows controlling the camera settings using a the lens i-Function button and lens ring. If you are after a small, slim and feature rich mirrorless camera, the NX100 is a great choice for you.

Compared to Olympus E-PL1 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-G10

Both Olympus E-PL1 and Panasonic DMC-G10 cost around the same as the Samsung NX100. Both the EP-L1 and the DMC-G10 are using the Four-Thirds format, which was invented by Olympus and Panasonic.  Furthermore, The Oly and Panasonic have a 2x focal length multiplier, compared to 1.5x of the NX100.

The DMC-G10 is equipped with EVF (202,000-dots), while the E-PL1 EVF is an optional accessory and need to be bought separately.  The Olympus E-PL1 has 324 area AF system vs. 144 zone of the Panasonic. Both cameras have an internal flash, while the NX100 flash is also an optional accessory. All mirrorless cameras shoot 720p videos, but the Olympus E-PL1 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G10 shoot in Motion JPEG vs. the H.264 (MPEG-4) codec of the NX100.

The NX100 has its gorgeous 3" 912K-dots AMOLEd dispaly vs. the Olympus E-PL1 2.7-inch 230K-dots and Panasonic Lumix DMC-G10 3-inch 460K-dots display (both are not AMOLED displays).

Again, the advantage for the NX100 is the i-Function, stylish & slim camera design, together with an amazing sharp LCD. Bofore deciding which one to buy, try the cameras in the store, play with the menus and the dedicated functions. In my opinion, the Samsung NX100 looks more stylish, and I am sure that there will be many photographers (men and women), that will base they buying decision on that factor.

I personally though that Samsung will employ a DualView LCD like in the TL210, but this feature wasn't embedded in the NX100. 

A "Mirrorless" Conclusion

Samsung NX100 mirrorless camera  is a truly unique camera, thanks its i-Function compatible lens' support. It is a small, light and stylish mirrorless camera. Samsung promised new technology innovations, and Samsung delivered it. The NX100 offers 720p/30 movie clip capture, gorgeous AMOLED display and easy-to-use manual controls. The mirrorless market keeps expending. Advanced family photographers better understand the advantages of mirrorless cameras over DSLRs.

The NX100 is a perfect camera to take to your next vacation. Of course there are some photographers who will prefer a high-end digital camera (like the Nikon P7000) over a mirrorless one. Furthermore, as the image quality of superzoom cameras (like theCanon SX30 IS) keeps getting better, mirrorless is not an absolute "must-buy" option. If you want to dig even further into the NX100 features, you can check out Samsung NX100 hands-on preview on dpreview, preview on Steve's digicams and sample images on, 

Some reasons why you probably should prefer a mirrorless camera over high-end and super-zoom cameras:
  • Control over DOF (blurry background)
  • Better image quality (with large sensor)
  • Better low-light performance (due to a larger sensor)
  • Interchangeable lenses for better flexibility for various shooting habbits
  • Upgrade the camera body and keep your lenses
  • Overall the same price range (maybe a bit higher)
  • High quality Telephoto-zoom lenses
  • More advanced optional accessories
There are many reasons why you should pick up a mirrorless digital camera. I think thatin the future, the mirrorless market will continue to expand.on the expense of the DSLR market. Overall, the Samsung NX100 really addresses both perosumers' desires and needs.