The 14-megapixel NX100 may not be a digital SLR, but it does use a DSLR-worthy sensor. This EVIL camera is the latest mirrorless model to break away from the Micro Four Thirds imaging chip format and plug an APS-C CMOS sensor into a small body.
Though the result isn’t as petite as Sony’s latest NEX shooters, which also use APS-C sensors, this is a pretty nifty looking compact, with a sleek, ergonomic body and impressive picture-taking abilities
The NX100 bears a passing resemblance to a classic rangefinder-style camera but feels thoroughly modern, with its sleek, polycarbonate curves practically begging you to pick it up and shoot with it. The big shutter button gives you the feeling you’re shooting with a DSLR, though the autofocus is not nearly as responsive.
Like competing EVIL cameras, the NX100 uses a contrast-detection autofocus system, and while it’s better than some older models, it can feel a step slow at times. This is especially true for cycle times between shots, which can feel glacial when you’re trying to shoot a series of candids. There is a high-speed continuous mode for capturing stills at 30 fps, but image size drops down to 1.4 megapixel, and it took 8 seconds for the buffer to clear before we could shoot again.
The easy menu system, sharp 3-inch AMOLED screen, and clear iconography make navigating the camera’s deep feature set a breeze. We also really liked the i-Function button on the 20-50 mm (f/3.5-5.6) kit lens, which lets you change key settings such as ISO, white balance, and exposure without taking your hand off the barrel.
The lens isn’t particularly sharp though, especially in the corners. And if you want to shoot in low light or create background blur for portraits, you’ll need one of Samsung’s forthcoming faster aperture lenses, such as the new 85mm f/1.4.
The 720p HD video mode produced sparkling high-def footage when shooting subjects head on but suffered from serious rolling shutter issues when we panned quickly from side-to-side. Rolling shutter is common in all cameras that use CMOS sensors to record video, but the problem is so severe in the NX100 that it made us a little seasick. Also disappointing: There’s no port for adding a stereo mic, meaning you’re stuck with the built-in monaural unit.
In terms of still image quality, we’d put the NX100 at above average for an EVIL camera. In good light, it delivered some of the best color, dynamic range, and detail we’ve seen from a camera in this class. In poor lighting, though, the camera struggled with image noise when shooting at ISO 3200 and above. It was so bad at times that it almost looked like we had applied a paint-like effect to our shots.
Speaking of effects, the NX100 has plenty to choose from, including vignette, miniature (tilt-shift), fish-eye, halftone dots, and soft focus.
So there’s a lot to like in the NX100: smart, eye-catching design, a rich feature set, and simple navigation. We just wish image quality was better in low light and that the HD video didn’t suffer from such pronounced rolling-shutter effects.
WIRED Stylish, ergonomic design. Friendly interface and i-Function button on kit lens mean you don’t need to read the manual. Fun built-in filters.
TIRED Kit lens is not particularly sharp. Slow shot-to-shot transition. Serious, wobbly rolling-shutter when panning quickly in HD mode. Image noise at higher ISOs. Lack of a rubberized handgrip means it’s easy to drop.