Design & Handling
It is safe to say that the black Samsung NX10 looks pretty pedestrian and unassuming as it opted for a more modern DSLR-like exterior design that's clean-cut and not a whole lot interesting. Nonetheless, looks here are secondary for the NX10 - what it has here in its favor is a streamlined build and promising performance which should make many photography enthusiasts happy. Regardless, skimping on weight doesn't make the NX10 look any shabbier than its heftier DSLR counterparts; in fact, the NX10 looks and feels sturdy enough to impress in spite of a plastic build.
Despite housing a bigger sensor, at 123×87×39.8mm, the NX10 is only marginally bigger than the Olympus PEN series cameras and the Panasonic GF1, all of which are true Micro Four Third cameras.
Bearing a close resemblance to the bigger DSLR but armed with a thinner body and smaller handgrip, the camera naturally feels a lot lighter and less threatening, even more prominently so for those who are used to the girth and weight of DSLRs. The buttons are well-positioned and uncluttered - making the shooting experience a pretty seamless and tireless one. While we felt that the handgrip might be a little too flat and small for some, it is nothing much to mince about as its rubbery texture and nice ridge help keep our grip on the camera strong and firm.
You will notice that the top right corner is where most of the action takes place, which is quite standard on most other DSLRs or Micro Four Third cameras for the matter. Prominently seen here is the mode dial, where users can choose which mode to shoot on - beginners can seek solace in the available scene modes and SmartAuto modes while advanced photographers can select between the more intensive Manual, Aperture-Priority or Shutter-Priority modes. Most of all, the dial is relatively thick and covered with grooves, which makes it extremely easy to change settings just with your thumb.
One small gripe that we had was with the position of the selection wheel. As seen in our shot below, it is sitting just under the power button on the NX10. It is purely a matter of ergonomics but we felt that it would have been better if the selection wheel was shifted down to the bottom right of the mode dial. In that way, both the mode dial and selection wheel is within the reach of the only free finger, the thumb, without really having to adjust your grip.
On the left, there's the flash, hotshoe attachment, and surprise, the menu button. While the menu button is almost always found at the bottom near the screen along with the rest of the buttons, the choice to isolate it from the rest isn't entirely a bad idea as it makes the layout way less cluttered and confusing.
Like its mirror-less counterparts, such as the Panasonic G1 and the Olympus PEN series, the Samsung NX10 comes with a built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF) patterned after the more recent crop of DSLR cameras. It has a 0.86x magnification and offers 100% field of view with a reasonable 921k dots of resolution. The NX10 does however have an eye sensor underneath the EVF, which will automatically switch to the EVF usage mode from the default LCD screen (or technically known as live viewfinder) when you position your eye near it (or any obstacle for that matter if you're curious). While we were hesitant at first, the seamless transition bowled us over as not only does it help to conserve battery life by putting the screen to sleep, the switch is also instantaneous without any lag. All things said and done, it really helps that users do not have to fumble to press an extra button to switch it to EVF or LVF (live viewfinder) mode or contend with a sub-performing function that lags to the point of frustration on the end-users' part. The EVF is also sufficiently bright so there's no need to squint or strain your eyes dry.
While we assume most users will shoot with auto focusing on, it is still good to know that manual focusing on the NX10 is rather fluid. After selecting the manual focus mode on the lens, turning the ring will allow the camera to automatically zoom into the area of focus; when you stop tweaking it, the screen will return to normal after a couple of seconds. We found that it took quite awhile for the screen to return to the original magnification if we left it to its own devices, but for those impatient like us, a light press on the shutter release button will promptly switch it back.
Slots & Ports
Unlike most cameras, the SD/SDHC slot is found apart from the battery compartment on the right side of the NX10. Being assigned a different compartment is actually good news, and presents a convenient way of changing cards without having to flip your camera over since you know, you wouldn't want your battery to drop out either. The slot is covered with a plastic 'door' that opens with a sideway push.
On the left side of the camera's body, users will find a one-stop compartment for the NX10's connectivity ports. From top to bottom: DC In, HDMI, SR9NX01 Remote Controller and AV Out.
LCD & Menus
Finding the screen a bit too crowded with information for your taste? It's simple to resolve that with a press of the display button that hides the symbols lining the screen. There are two ways to tweak your settings: through the one-stop, self-explanatory buttons found on the scroll wheel, or by pressing the menu button on the top left side of the camera which leads you to an intuitive menu with 7 tabs. Otherwise, the 3.0-inch 614k AMOLED screen is extremely clear and sharp since it boasts of a speedy response rate that's 3,000 times faster than an LCD display and a 1,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio. It allows for easier viewing of photos even in bright sunlight, which is a definite plus, and takes up most of the real estate on the back of the camera. The only downside is that the glossy screen is rather prone to fingerprint smudging, and cannot be easily cleaned off.
The menu is intuitive and easy to use, even for first-time photographers. It is also one of the least cluttered and more polished interfaces (to the point where it is actually pretty to look at) that we have come across so far on cameras. There's a lot of flexibility in terms of setting your own controls, which is quite necessary coming from a camera with DSLR capabilities.
While the settings are pretty self-explanatory for more advanced users, the NX10 has an extra cookie stored for those who aren't quite as adept. One of the nifty features that the NX10 has is that when you long-press the DISP button for about 1-2 seconds on a selected setting, a short yet succinct explanation appears. Amateur photographers upgrading from a compact point-and-shoot cameras will definitely appreciate this small touch since it saves them the trouble of leafing through books and research.