The Samsung NX100 sits above the NX10 in Samsung's interchangeable lens camera line up and while it offers the same great image quality as the NX10, the NX100 lacks the built-in features that made the Samsung NX10 a five-star product. However, the NX100 digital camera does bring something new to the table: the i-Function lens.

Samsung NX100: image quality

We love the image quality from the Samsung NX100's 14-megapixel APS-C sensor, which captures very clear photos. It gives a similar level of low-light performance as an entry-level Canon EOS 1000D) or Nikon D3000 digital SLR. After ISO 400 you should expect to see some discolouration and noise creeping in to your photos. Images shot at up to ISO 400 can be viewed at their full size without many imperfections being visible.

This image was taken at ISO 400. We had to boost the contrast a little because at higher ISO levels the pictures start to look too pale.

This is the same image cropped at 100 per cent. You can see that it retains great clarity.

With built-in image stabilisation, you can try using a lower ISO speed with a slower shutter speed in order to minimise noise — we were able to shoot with a shutter as low as 1/5th of a second without getting blurry results while holding the Samsung NX100 camera, although we had to hold the NX100 very steady with two hands and support it with our body mass.

The Samsung NX100 performed well in bright conditions and its colour reproduction was pleasing. We used the 20-50mm zoom lens for our tests, which has a maximum wide aperture of f/3.5 and which closes to f/5.6 when you are zoomed in all the way. The camera uses NX-mount lenses, and other options include the T50200SB 50-200mm Tele Lens and S30NB 30mm Pancake Lens. There is also an adapter that allows K-mount lenses to be used.

The Samsung NX100's colour reproduction was accurate and it performed well in very bright sunlight.

An example of the depth of field of the 20-50mm zoom lens. You can see the strip of in-focus text in the middle while the surroundings are blurred.

One of the things we love about the Samsung NX100 is its menu system, which is logically laid out and easy to understand. Regularly used functions such as ISO, white balance, focus mode and shooting mode all have their own dedicated buttons on the body of the camera. The Fn button can be used to bring up more of the camera's settings. A handy focus point button allows you to pick from one of 143 positions on the AMOLED screen to focus on. It comes in very handy when you want the focus of an image to be in a corner, for example.

We used the manual focus point selection to being the flower in focus at the top-right of the screen.

Samsung NX100: i-Function lens

The main new feature in the Samsung NX100 camera is the lens' built-in function button, which allows you to change exposure settings (aperture, shutter, ISO and white balance) by pressing it and then moving the lens ring. Samsung claims this is a better way of changing exposure settings as you don't have to look away from the screen in order to change those settings. However, we beg to differ with that thinking.

When you first use the Samsung NX100, trying to change the aperture or shutter speed by using the on-lens button and ring control is very unintuitive. In fact, you have to take your eyes off the screen to find the button that you need to press; we didn't have to do this when using the conventional controls. We found ourselves using the conventional thumb control on the back of the camera to change the aperture and the little ring at the top of the camera's body to change the shutter — it just felt more natural. Furthermore, having to rotate the lens ring in order to change the exposure settings means that the camera can't always be held steady — with the conventional controls, your left hand is always holding the camera steady as you change settings.

NEXT: design and controls >>

Group test: what's the best digital camera?

The Samsung NX100 sits above the NX10 in Samsung's interchangeable lens camera line up and while it offers the same great image quality as the NX10, the NX100 lacks the built-in features that made the Samsung NX10 a five-star product. However, the NX100 digital camera does bring something new to the table: the i-Function lens.

Samsung NX100: Design and controls

The shape and feel of the Samsung NX100 are a little like the Olympus PEN E-PL1: it is long and it lacks both a handgrip and a built-in viewfinder. Unlike the PEN E-PL1, the NX100 doesn't have a built-in flash, but it has a hot shoe (which Samsung calls a Smart Shoe). The Smart Shoe allows not only an external flash to be attached, but also an optional electronic viewfinder (EVF). The 3in AMOLED screen is very bright and crisp though, and you can use the camera effectively on bright days. What you see on the screen is what you get and this can make taking photos a lot easier and a lot more fun. However, when shooting in direct sunlight, the screen will be a little hard to see, so an EVF will still be required.

The lens has a feature called i-Function, which allows you to change exposure settings, but it's unintuitive.

By virtue of the omitted EVF and flash, the NX100 is smaller and lighter compared to the NX10. Instead of a proper handgrip, your hand rests around subtle contours and there is plenty of room on the rear of the camera for your thumb. We like the shutter button, which has a distinct two-step operation, and the buttons all feel solid and are easy to press. There is a dedicated thumbwheel for changing settings such as the aperture when the camera is in manual or aperture priority modes, and there is a little wheel at the top of the body that can be used to change the shutter speed in manual or shutter priority modes. As mentioned earlier, we prefer using these controls to manipulate the exposure rather than the controls on the lens itself, which we could not get used to all during our test period.

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

Group test: what's the best digital camera?

Samsung NX100: Specs

  • Exposure Modes: Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Picture Modes, Manual
  • Effective MegaPixels: 14.6 megapixels
  • Megapixel Banding: 15.9 megapixels
  • Metering Modes: Centre Weighted, Spot
  • SD Card, SDHC Card
  • 3.0 inch AMOLED LCD monitor
  • Audio Recording
  • Exposure Compensation
  • Movie Mode
  • Continuous Shooting Speed: 3fps
  • Max Image Resolution: 4592x3056
  • ISO Speed Range: 100-3200 Extendable up to 6400
  • 282g
  • sensor size: 23.4x15.6mm
  • Samsung NX lens
  • USB 2.0
  • 120x71x35mm
  • Exposure Modes: Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Picture Modes, Manual
  • Effective MegaPixels: 14.6 megapixels
  • Megapixel Banding: 15.9 megapixels
  • Metering Modes: Centre Weighted, Spot
  • SD Card, SDHC Card
  • 3.0 inch AMOLED LCD monitor
  • Audio Recording
  • Exposure Compensation
  • Movie Mode
  • Continuous Shooting Speed: 3fps
  • Max Image Resolution: 4592x3056
  • ISO Speed Range: 100-3200 Extendable up to 6400
  • 282g
  • sensor size: 23.4x15.6mm
  • Samsung NX lens
  • USB 2.0
  • 120x71x35mm

OUR VERDICT

There's no doubt that the Samsung NX100 can take great pictures (and it's also a handy high-def video shooter) but we can't help but feel that it's a step back from the brilliant NX10. We miss the built-in EVF and flash and think these are key features that should be standard, rather than optional. On the bright side, the lack of these features means that the NX100 is smaller than the NX10. Even so, the camera is too big to be carried in a pocket. We prefer the extra size and features of the NX10. The NX10 is also cheaper!

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