First Look: Samsung NX11

The Samsung NX11 offers DSLR-styling and i-Function compatibility straight out of the box … we take a look at how the NX11 differs from its NX10 cousin.

It was this time last year that the Samsung NX10 was first revealed to the world. Fast forward a year and the NX11 looks to build up on the company’s compact system, or hybrid, camera market – though it’s much more of a minor upgrade than full-on reworking.

We had a play around with the NX11 to get a feel for what it might offer. In a nutshell it’s an i-Function ready camera straight out of the box and comes with the new 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 i-Fn lens. But there are more features hidden under the hood that are worthy of a mention.

Although the NX11’s sensor is the same 14.6-megapixel offering of the NX10 and utilises the very same processor, Samsung has lifted the ISO 3200 cap and raised the bar one stop to ISO 6400. However, after grilling Samsung on the company’s stand at CES 2011, it became clear that the NX11’s image quality is no different to that of the NX10. Far more the point of the release seems to be to ensure that all NX products ship with the i-Function compatibility ready to go straight from the box.

The i-Fn functionality adds a physical button to the side of the lens that’s well placed for quick pressing and adjustment of the most commonly used options – it was a feature that we liked a lot when the NX100 first came out. With the NX11’s electronic viewfinder offering the i-Fn makes a whole lot more sense as it’s possible to shoot and quickly adjust settings without so much as taking your eye away from the action. However, and this is a fairly big however, the NX10 only needs a firmware upgrade to be compatible with i-Function lenses, rendering the difference between it and the latest NX11 certainly slight at best.

But it’s not all about comparison. On its own merit the NX11 is certainly a decent standalone hybrid offering and does provide an updated autofocus system to make it faster than both the NX10 and NX100 models. This is all produced through in-camera software changes rather than any mechanical advantages and, in truth, the change is a slight tweak rather than groundbreaking re-work. It’s still not going to rival a DSLR’s potential focusing speed, but it’s far better than a standard compact camera.

We were lucky enough to play with a couple of lenses too, including the forthcoming 18-200mm i-Fn. Although it wasn’t a final, finished product ready for market, it did cover a great, broad range and shows some suggestion of where the NX series is heading. There was also an 85mm F/1.4 mock-up locked away in a glass cabinet on the stand that shows more pro-spec tech is certainly in the pipeline.  

Another prominent new NX11 feature is the Panorama mode. Much like Sony’s Sweep Panorama, Samsung’s version allows for the real-time rotation of the camera to produce a panoramic image that’s automatically stitched in camera. The shutter remains open during this process so it’s quiet and unobtrusive, plus we liked the fact it’s possible to make the mode work not only left or right but up and down too.

A new addition to the mode dial is the “i” position, which claims to pick the best settings for the lens you have attached. It sounds like some sort of auto meets guide mode that will change the settings to suit the lens. Unfortunately that batteries of the camera we were playing with died before we got to investigate this mode further.

Elsewhere the rear 3-inch OLED screen is a fantastic thing to behold. Very smooth in motion and it provides a great range of punchy bright colours. The electronic viewfinder is also a relatively decent offering – though it’s not going to be for everyone. It’s a shame to see no improvements in this area as a higher resolution viewfinder screen might convince more people that electronic versions aren’t so bad after all.

Verdict

Side by side and the NX11 looks near identical to the NX10. There has been an ever so slight change to the grip to make it more ergonomic but it’s a subtle difference and, with the exception of the new Panorama mode and i-Function on the top mode dial, is the only cosmetic change to the camera body.

The NX11 seems to be a decent camera, but it’s not going to get NX10 owners jumping out of their seats to run and buy one – it’s all about targeting new customers interested in Samsung’s i-Function calling card.

Photos taken from our previous hands-on with the Samsung NX11.



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