Last week, Samsung launched their next mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, the NX100, at a global event in Hong Kong. And after spending a few hours playing with a pre-production version of the hardware, I can comfortably say that the i-Function lens system will open up manual controls to amateurs faster than any other camera on the market.
The first thing worth noting about the NX100 is that it's actually larger than you might think from looking at the press shots. Anyone hoping that the body is similar in size to the NEX models from Sony are going to be disappointed - the NX100 is significantly larger. That's not to say it's too large - it actually sits quite comfortably in the hand, it's rounded edges fitting the hand quite nicely.
The NX100 has the same AMOLED screen and processor inside as the NX10, so it's safe to say that it performs pretty well as a camera. But the new feature that really needs to be described is the i-Function lens system, which allows you to control the camera's settings through the lens.
While that may sound rather silly - especially for a camera that doesn't have a viewfinder and requires you to frame photos through the AMOLED screen - it actually makes complicated manual controls completely accessible for amateur and budding photographers. Consisting of a single button, the i-Function controls lets you use the lens' manual focus ring to adjust settings, depending on which mode you are shooting in.
For example, if you're shooting in Aperture priority mode, a press of the i-Fn button lets you adjust the aperture. Another press lets you adjust exposure compensation. A third press moves to ISO controls. Press the button again, and you're back to Aperture. In Manual mode, you get the added option of selecting shutter speed.
Combined with the camera's live view - which will show you an approximation of what the photo will look like on the AMOLED screen as you adjust settings, it makes it easier to frame a photo and get the settings right quickly and easily, without having to take a thousand photos as you tweak settings to get the right combination of aperture and shutter speeds. That's especially beneficial while photographing at night with long exposure shots.
The i-Function button itself is relatively conveniently located, although it could probably be slightly more defined to make locating it a bit easier. Having said that, the fact that the lenses will work with any future NX cameras from Samsung, as well as the NX10 after a firmware upgrade either later this year or early next year, means that this is going to make Samsung a real competitor in the EVIL camera market, especially for the amateurs looking to step up from a compact who want to get more from their photography.
Nick travelled to Hong Kong courtesy of Samsung