image by Kam Lau (Image rights)
But with the NX10 mirrorless system camera, Samsung launched a major initiative to be taken seriously as a camera manufacturer. While several Micro Four Thirds cameras had already come to market by then, the field of "EVIL" (electronic viewfinder, interchangeable lens) system cameras was still much less crowded than other segments, giving Samsung a much greater chance to stand apart. Furthermore, this style of camera plays to Samsung's strengths, as a powerhouse in semiconductor & display manufacturing.
While the NX10 resembles a shrunken SLR, this appearance is simply a reassurance to unfamiliar consumers: Samsung's NX system was designed from the ground up as a mirrorless camera system, using live video streamed from the sensor itself for its viewfinder image. The NX10 also provides a 3" diagonal rear AMOLED display panel (another Samsung technology) which claims a brighter view with less battery consumption versus conventional LCD displays. The camera uses a 14-megapixel Samsung APS-C sensor (23.4×15.6 mm), potentially giving an image-quality advantage over the smaller µ4/3 sensor size.
Samsung bravely (or misguidedly) chose to start from a blank slate with its NX lens mount, leaving them to go it alone as the sole supplier of NX lenses (although a K mount adapter was also offered as a stopgap measure for those owning Samsung SLR lenses). The shorter flange distance allowed them to produce very compact 30mm and 20mm pancake lenses, with the standard 30mm f/2.0 rated as a very decent performer. However the lens mount register distance is somewhat greater than that of Micro Four Thirds and the NEX mount from Sony, reducing the options for adapting legacy lenses to the Samsung's appealingly-large digital sensor.
Early reviews of the NX10 were generally respectful, although it seemed that the APS-C sensor technology developed by Sony in the same time frame (and used in Pentax, Nikon and of course Sony's own models) gave a slight edge over Samsung in high-ISO performance.
The followup NX11 was essentially the same camera, updated to allow use of Samsung's "i-Function" lens feature (use of the focus ring as a "soft" control dial for various shooting parameters). The related Samsung NX5 was essentially a cost-cutting version of the NX10, substituting a lower-spec LCD viewing screen.
- With DLSRs whose lens mounts are inherited from 35mm film-camera systems, the lens register distance is significantly longer than the desired "normal" focal length for an APS-C sensor, namely ~28mm. This means even even standard prime lenses must use complex retrofocus designs. A short lens register distance removes this constraint.
- DPReview test of Samsung NX 30mm f/2.0 from Samsung NX10 full review
- Review of Samsung NX 30mm f/2.0 from LensTip.com
- Raw sensor comparison between Samsung NX10 and Nikon D5000; Sony Alpha 560 (archived) by DxO mark.