Review: Samsung NX11

By Steven Vea

Compact camera systems (CSC) should swiftly climb up the ranks of any shutterbug’s must-haves. While CSCs might not have the portability of point-and-shoots or the power of DSLRs, cameras such as the Samsung NX11 offer a compromised best of both worlds.

Out of the box, Samsung’s newest entry in the NX series is quite stunning. Now modeled more closely to resemble DSLRs, its exterior has been capped off with a sleek black finish along with a new textured handgrip. All the standard controls are present as well, such as the familiar PASM mode dial and menu buttons, so users should expect the learning curve to be at a minimum.

Featuring a 14.6-megapixel APS-C sensor, Samsung has definitely given its competition something to think about. With captivating image quality that can easily rival any DSLR, the NX11 provides a fantastic option for consumers looking for something both lightweight and competent. Although CSCs and/or other mirrorless cameras are generally thought of as a “gateway” for those migrating from point-and-shoots, the NX11 is a serious image-capturing device in itself and should not be considered solely as a transition. It is a solid buy for any photography enthusiast, whether for a first purchase or an addition to an ever-growing collection.

The NX11’s 3-inch AMOLED LCD screen is simply brilliant, and is perhaps its strongest characteristic. Users will most likely prefer shooting in live mode via the display as opposed to using the electronic 640×480 pixel viewfinder, since the latter can tend to be inaccurate when representing certain hues and can lead to slight miscalculations when used in full manual.

The viewfinder proves to be invaluable especially when used in conjunction with the iFunction lens, which is unique to Samsung. Having previous experience with these lenses, this reviewer found it more intuitive the second time around. The option to adjust the camera’s settings (i.e. ISO, shutter speed, etc.) via the trademark lens allows users to maintain their shooting position so they can quickly capture a moment.

Perhaps, the only drawback of Samsung’s NX series is that a fast lens is not yet readily available, with the quickest being the 30mm f/2. However, taking into consideration that this line of Samsung cameras is still quite new, this reviewer wouldn’t be surprised if a classic 50mm f/1.8, or better yet, an f/1.4, will come out soon. Nevertheless, the 18-55mm kit lens is quite remarkable, producing sharp, high-quality images.

The improved auto focus with the NX11’s standard lens is quick and satisfyingly precise, regardless of whether it’s used in shooting stills or 720p HD video. Manual focusing is intuitive as well, although this reviewer would have preferred a non-infinity focusing ring.

The addition of Panorama mode makes the NX11 even more desirable. It’s fairly accurate and works excellently within the camera itself, negating the need to stitch the photo via image software. With the added ability to shoot panoramic shots vertically, the NX11 is insatiable.

Overall, the NX11 isn’t a radical change over its predecessor, the NX10. Instead, Samsung opts for subtle improvements that users will nevertheless appreciate. The NX11 is not just a worthy contender in the game of mirrorless cameras—it might possibly be the one to buy.

Dimensions: 123x87x39.8mm
Weight: 353g (body only)
Sensor: 14.6 effective megapixels 23.4×15.6mm CMOS sensor
Display: 3-inch AMOLED Display 1040k resolution
Viewfinder: Viewfinder EVF
Lens: Samsung NX mount lens,18-55mm OIS iFunction
Shutter Speed: 1/4000sec.- 30sec. (1/3EV step manual mode), Bulb (Limit time: 8 min)
Flash: TTL Auto Pop-up flash, optional external Samsung flash via HotShoe
Stabilisation: Sensor shift+electronic
Video: HD video at 720p at 30fps
Storage: SD, SDHC or SDXC media card
Battery: 400 photos per charge
Connections: USB 2.0, AV out, mini HDMI, stereo mini jack

What’s Hot:
• 14.6-megapixel sensor
• Excellent AMOLED screen
• Panorama mode

What’s Not:
• Lack of faster lenses
• Viewfinder could be improved

The Samsung NX11 is serious image-capturing device and should find its way into the palm of any shutterbug, whether they are hobbyists or professionals.

Buy Meter: 9.0

[This review originally appeared in the July 2011 issue of Gadgets Magazine]