Samsung NX11 full review
Samsung’s NX11 is a perfect choice for those who have always wanted a DSLR but who have been put off by the sheer bulk of a ‘proper’ camera. Thanks to its mirrorless body, the NX11 is smaller and lighter than any DSLR although. The traditional SLR body shape, with its rubberised right-hand grip is much more comfortable to hold than a compact camera. The mode and value selector wheels fall naturally under the thumb and forefinger, allowing quick adjustments while looking through the viewfinder.
It’s not until you put your eye to this viewfinder that you realise it has been replaced by an electronic version. Its 921,000 dots make it considerably sharper than the 3-inch display on the back of the camera and you can get away with using it in darker situations than an optical viewfinder.
However, low-light shooting isn’t the NX11’s strong point. With a maximum ISO setting of just 3200 it’s a long way behind most of the competition and even at this setting, image noise is more noticeable then either of the DSLRs. At lower ISO settings, the camera performs very well.
While the NX11 may only be a tiny bit smaller than the smallest DSLR, its compatible NX mount lenses are considerably less bulky, so carrying an NX11 and a selection of lenses results in a much lighter kit bag.
The NX-mount system offers a small but ever-growing selection of five lenses, ranging from the tiny 20mm pancake lens up to the image stabilised 5-200mm zoom. Forthcoming models include an 85mm f/1.4 portrait lens unlike anything available on any other digital mirrorless compact system. You can also use older K-mount Pentax lenses in manual mode via an adaptor.
Samsung’s iFunction system, lets you use the lens’s focus ring to adjust other shooting parameters without taking your eye off your subject. It’s much, much quicker than using buttons to step up and down through values.
When it comes to video, High Definition is supported although sadly only to a maximum resolution of 720p at 30fps. This is quite adequate for the vast majority of consumer uses, but can’t match the 1080p capture of some competing models.
Elias Plastiras' review from 24/6/11
The Samsung NX11 is a small camera with a digital SLR-sized sensor and feature set.
The Samsung NX11 is an interchangeable-lens camera with a 14.6Mp APS-C sized sensor and a relatively compact body size. It's the type of camera to go for if you want something slightly smaller than a traditional digital SLR, yet still want to have the flexibility of choosing between different lenses and settings. However, the NX11 doesn't usher in any improvements over the NX10, which was released over one year ago, and this is a little to its detriment.
The NX10 came at a time when existing interchangeable-lens cameras didn't offer excellent value for money. The NX10 was one of the only models in its price bracket to offer a built-in flash and electronic viewfinder. Those features, along with its bigger, APS-C sized sensor and an easy-to-use menu system made it a far more interesting value proposition than, say, the Olympus PEN E-P2.
The Samsung NX11 doesn't bring with it the same sort of 'wow' factor that the NX10 brought last year; the NX11 is essentially the same camera as the NX10, with the only notable differences being that it now ships with one of Samsung's i-Function lenses and supports GPS features; it's also cheaper, retailing from around £410 inc VAT online.
Despite the lack of changes from the previous model, the Samsung NX11 is still a good camera, and we think it's worth considering if you want to get yourself a relatively small camera that will accept different lenses and feel a little like a digital SLR. It brings a digital SLR-sized sensor to a body that is very compact, yet well featured: you get a built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF), a built-in flash, a hot shoe, and a control dial for changing the shutter and aperture values.
The Samsung NX11 uses Samsung's NX lens mount and it ships with one of the company's i-Function lenses (our kit came with the 18-55mm lens). An i-Function lens contains circuitry that allows you to change the shooting settings by pressing a button on the lens and then moving the focus ring.
It's a very awkward way of doing things if you ask us, and we're not sure how it's meant to be easier to change settings by moving the focus ring rather using traditional methods. We much prefer the buttons on the back of the camera and the control dial that sits near the shutter button. In fact, we wish it had two separate control dials for the shutter and aperture values when using it in manual mode.
Samsung NX11: Performance and picture quality
The camera's picture quality is impressive and we think that anyone from a casual user to an avid photographer will like the results.
The Samsung NX11 does a good job in bright light conditions and also in overcast conditions. It's not great for night photography, mainly because there is a lot of noise when you use a value above ISO 800. Images shot at ISO 800 will also look a little grainy and this will be noticeable when viewing the photos at their native size on a screen.
It's a shame that Samsung hasn't improved in this area, and cheap digital SLRs from Canon and Nikon are well ahead in this regard. Colour tones and saturation were good in our tests and most photos came out looking rich and vibrant (although this will depend on the settings you use).
The above photos were shot just before midday on a very bright Sydney day using aperture priority mode and the 50-200mm lens
The overall crispness of the Samsung NX11's shots is good, even when you view photos at their native 14.6Mp size. You can rest assured that you'll be able to print photos at a large size and they will still look well defined.
As for its overall speed, the Samsung NX11 has quick shot-to-shot performance, but it's somewhat slow to focus. Furthermore, it can struggle to focus on the right spot in a scene; luckily, you can easily move the focus point to the part of the image that you want to be in focus. One feature that the NX11 could use is tracking focus. This is available in the higher-end NX100.
Focusing in dark situations will also be a bit of a chore with the NX11. There is a focus assist lamp, but unless there's plenty of contrast between the background and the object you're shooting, the NX11 will be forever lost.
Manual focusing is adequate, but only if there is enough light, otherwise the image through the electronic viewfinder or LCD screen will look too noisy and it will be hard to determine whether the image is in focus or not.
The EVF isn't of a high quality and you can't rely on it for setting the exposure and colour balance; for these tasks you are better off using the bright AMOLED screen. The AMOLED screen isn't WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) either when it comes to exposure, but it's much better than the EVF. Both the EVF and the LCD are sometimes ineffective when shooting in dark conditions - you essentially have to shoot blind and hope for the best. The screen on the NX100 is much better in this respect as it basically is WYSIWYG at all times.
We also attempted some arty shots using the 50-200mm lens - we're not very arty, though
Overall, we really like the Samsung NX11. It's not as big as a traditional digital SLR, but it still has a digital SLR-sized sensor and its results are very good. You can use the NX11 for all types of photography (depending on the lenses you have), although it can struggle at times in low-light situations. We like the fact that you get an EVF and a flash built in. We don't care much for the i-Function feature in the new lenses, but it does give you another way of doing things when it comes to changing settings. Available for around £410 inc VAT, it's an interchangeable-lens camera that's well worth considering, but with entry level models from Nikon and Canon now available for not much more money, we think the NX11 would be more enticing at a lower price.
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Samsung NX11: Specs
- 3x optical zoom
- 3in AMOLED screen
- ISO 100-3,200
- USB 2.0 123x40x87mm