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Samsung NX1000 and NX210 Mirrorless Review

Samsung NX1000 and NX210 Mirrorless Review

These cameras are incredibly similar. In fact, I’m going to treat this as the same camera review while pointing out differences as we go along. So why the $200 difference between the NX1000 and NX210? Let’s see if what's up and how these systems compare with the competition.

Just as with the Sony NEX series, Samsung’s NX series is incredibly popular. And it’s most likely due to the APS-C sensor -- among the largest sensors available in even the DSLR market -- just under full frame. Packing such a large sensor into a small body gives the best of both worlds: excellent image quality and a small, compact form that you can take with you just about anywhere.

Going into this, let’s remember that the NX1000 is the 'cheaper' model by $200. So be looking out for differences that might be important to you.

The Good Stuff:

Both cameras feel incredibly similar next to each other -- almost identical. I’ve heard some saying the NX210 is more comfortable to hold than the NX1000, but aside from the buttons protruding a bit more with a slightly more rounded shape in the NX210 as opposed to the NX1000’s flatter buttons, the layout, size, weight, and overall feel of both cameras were so similar I had to look at the lettering on the front to remember which I was shooting with. That said, by the end of using both cameras, the NX210 is just a bit more refined, a little easier and more sturdy to hold, and an overall better experience. Is this good? Well, I liked the experience of both, still. They are both small, but also solid (certainly on par with the NEX-7 -- if the series’ names aren’t similar enough already, it’s obvious the NEX-5 and -7 cameras are the direct competition, here).

While the button layout is virtually the same on both cameras, the NX210 has a slightly different button assignment than the NX1000. Most importantly, it has a dedicated ISO button where the NX1000’s layout places an exposure compensation shortcut, which is an added button on the NX210. I don’t often use exposure compensation because I usually just adjust manually. If you're like me, you’ll have to have that ISO button. Then again, these days we have Auto-IS, unfortunately I’ve never trusted it that much. Should I? I don't know. I just feel out of control when I set everything to Auto.

Notice the added button above the Menu button for exposure compensation on the NX210...

Both cameras feature VGA-resolution screens as opposed to high-resolution ones. But they still both seem sharp. The NX210 features AMOLED technology that lets the display be thinner and light. Can I tell the difference? Not really. And either way, it still doesn’t mean that the colors look anything closer to what you’ll get on your computer screen anyway. That said, having a good screen is key to feeling confident about the shots you’re getting -- especially if that screen is your viewfinder. So to that extent, it’s extremely nice to see OLED technology get into at least one of these compact cameras (most DSLRs are still using standard LCD screens). Of note, the NX1000 has slightly lower screen resolution, but the OLED technology is so nice, I don’t really notice much of a difference between the two anyway.

Both cameras feature built-in Wifi. I would never really use this feature. But I can imagine millions with families that would want to put their pictures up on their Samsung display or share their photos directly to Facebook or Twitter sans computer. And in these cases, it really comes in handy. You can even view photos on other tablet-like devices or control the camera from your smart phone. Wouldn’t I love to see that built into my $3000 and $6000 DSLRs! But no, we in the DSLR world are stuck paying as much as you pay for this camera for a little Wifi love.

Samsung's i-Function technology makes use of a button on compatible lenses that is assignable to various functions. This is usually seen on higher-end DSLR lenses (and those buttons/switches are often dedicated), so it's nice to see some extra flexibility here, too. If you feel like a certain control is lacking for your style of shooting, simply assign a shortcut to this button. For example, the NX210 has only one rotating dial on top of the camera to adjust shutter speed/aperture while the NX1000 doesn't have any. So the default aperture and shutter speed control setting for the i-Function button comes in handy.

The NX210, left, has a dial in place of the Smart Link 'wifi' button.

The Not-So-Good Stuff:

I don’t have much to say, here. While the cameras still feel sturdy, they don’t measure up to the solid hunk that the Ricoh GXR felt like. But I’m coming directly from that camera. And picking up the NEX-7 again reminds me what the ‘norm’ is. And it’s still pretty darn good, again, with the NX210 feeling just a bit better.

Just as with the NEX-7, both cameras certainly still feel a bit like point-and-shoots. They’re a little slower, autofocus performance suffers in low light, and it takes some time to process photos and save them (of course, there are burst modes, however -- 8fps in these cameras). So there’s still no perfect DSLR-like performance. But in the end, we’re looking for image quality...

Image Quality:

Both cameras have the same exact sensor, so from here on out, we’re talking about the same camera...

I’m actually quite impressed, here. The 20MP isn’t quite the NEX-7’s 24MP, but please don’t get me started on Why Megapixels Don't Matter... It really doesn’t matter at this point. Either way, you can get prints above 13”x19” EASILY! I printed a photograph of that huge Coca-Cola sign in Sydney (hello, readers from ‘down under’) that I took with my D70 back in 2005 (don’t judge, I was in high school) at 36”x48”. While a bit grainy, I didn’t even notice any hard pixelation... I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, but then that was 6 -- SIX! -- megapixels. Okay, I’m done. Point is, 20MP is plenty.

The images are crisp and beautiful. The NX1000 does ship with a cheaper lens, but unless you step up to other lenses of better quality (and more expense) or primes, which are generally sharper and better-performing anyway, you won’t notice too much of a difference -- they even have the same maximum and minimum apertures.

The 30mm prime lens is visibly sharper, despite normal JPEG artifacts still being present.
The 18-55mm zoom lens isn't as sharp, but provides more flexibility for the traveler or street photographer...


So, is it worth it? Honestly, I really don’t know why Samsung created two practically identical cameras with a $200 price difference. I’d just save your money and get the NX1000, even if it doesn’t have a dedicated ISO button. Image quality is the same, and that’s the important part.

In terms of comparing this to other cameras (mainly, the NEX series), go to a store and pick them up in your hands (then buy them online). I’m a firm believer that you’ll shoot better images with a camera that you feel more confident with -- and that starts with the way it feels to you. But either the NEX-7 or this camera will be plenty featured and of great use. The NEX-7 is a bit more handy with its dual thumb dials, but it'll cost you twice as much as well. The Samsungs don’t have a flip-out screen, mind you. So that might be a deal-breaker for you. And the NX210 has an external audio jack so you can hook up microphones and such. It also comes with an external flash, but I never really use flash personally. If those aren’t major drawbacks for you, stick with the NX1000.

Adam Ottke's picture

Adam works mostly across California on all things photography and art. He can be found at the best local coffee shops, at home scanning film in for hours, or out and about shooting his next assignment. Want to talk about gear? Want to work on a project together? Have an idea for Fstoppers? Get in touch! And, check out FilmObjektiv.org film rentals!

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I think it is irresponsible to suggest for people to go to a store to hold the cameras and then buy them online. If you appreciate having a place to go to put your hands on equipment pre-purchase, you should seriously consider purchasing it from there. If everyone followed your advice the stores would go out of business (or at least get out of the camera business) and you'd just have to order gear and hope for the best...

I completely agree with ajrogers111.  those same people would complain that they cannot see of ouch something before they bought if these local shops were gone.  A dollar spent in your community is recirculated 7 times in that community.  

Agree, buy local

Buying local helps the community a lot.
If you can afford to buy local, do so.

BUT I don't have a lot of money.
And if I can get the exact same product, for 100 bucks less, shipped right to my door, I am going to buy it where it's cheapest.

on the light post there's a sign of "Dick Long, liberal senator"

50% on topic here.

I agree it's important to support local (physical) stores.  However, here in Australia, we are appallingly ripped off on a regular basis with prices of electronics (amongst other things) compared to the rest of the world.  The stores have to respect their customers too, if they want our patronage.