This added value comes in the form of an improved handgrip, new panoramic mode, additional 1:1 and 16:9 ratios and the i-Function feature, which was introduced on the NX100. For those photographers “graduating” from a simple point-and-shoot to the NX11, Samsung has also included an interesting i-Scene lens priority mode, which automatically selects scene options that match whichever lens is being used. Buyers of this camera will also benefit from its 14.6-megapixel, APS-C-sized, CMOS sensor, which is identical in size to sensors on introductory DSLRs and considerably bigger than the sensors on Micro Four Thirds cameras. The remainder of this review explores some of the highlighted features of the Samsung NX11.
The Lens Tradeoff
Despite all of the bells and whistles on the Samsung NX11, potential owners have a fundamental choice to make: Do they still want a very lightweight and compact camera like the point-and-shoot they may own or do they want to experience the greater image quality of a true DSLR that the NX11’s APS-C sensor produces? This tradeoff is evident in the larger size and heaviness of the 18–55mm kit lens and also the 50–200mm, both of which cause the entire NX11 set-up to weigh more than comparable Micro Four Thirds body/lens combinations. You may not care, however, once you see the excellent images the 14.6-megapixel sensor delivers.
JPEGs exhibit no noise at ISO 100–400; ISO 800 is also quiet. Some noise appears at ISO 1,600, but you must use the highest setting of ISO 3,200 before the noise becomes noticeable. Shooting RAW files at the high end of the ISO range will produce more noise compared to JPEGs at the same levels.
The i-Function Feature
The i-Function button on the Samsung NX11 compact camera is an intriguing addition. It’s located on the lens barrel, and provides access to a sub-menu of primary settings, which can then be changed with an easy twist of the focus ring. When the i-Function button is pushed repeatedly, it reveals settings for shutter speed and/or aperture, exposure compensation, white balance and ISO. Another benefit of the i-Function button is ergonomic, in that it feels very natural and comfortable to hold the camera in your right hand, bring the electronic viewfinder to your eye, activate the i-Function feature and control the focus ring with your left hand.
Smart Auto Recognition
To remain competitive with Panasonic (Lumix), Sony (T-series Cyber-shots) and Canon (Digital IXUS cameras), Samsung developed Smart Auto for the NX11, which is its take on the intelligent auto modes in these other cameras. The Smart Auto system comes with 16 of the typical combinations of exposure and other settings pre-programmed. When the scene or subject in the frame matches one of these automatic combinations, Smart Auto selects it. Similar systems are more complex, forcing the user to search through scene modes in a menu to find the right match, and then activate it. This makes the Samsung NX11 a very good choice for photographers that like the automatic functionality of a point-and-shoot, but want more camera.
Video specifications for the NX11 are high-resolution HD 720p 1280x720 movies in the 16:9 aspect ratio and standard VGA 640x480, or 320x260, movies in the 4:3 aspect ratio, and in the H.264 format at 30 frames per second. The small internal microphone only records a mono track. The camera does have an HDMI port, but a HDMI cable is not included in the kit, which was an obvious decision if Samsung was to keep the price low.
Although the Samsung NX11 hasn’t changed much from its predecessor, the NX10, many NX100 owners will likely be attracted to its DSLR look and other upgrades. The NX11 may cost a bit more than its comparable competitors, such as the Olympus E-PL2 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2, but this new Samsung model may be a better entry point for the many beginners who want to advance at least a small step into a compact camera system. If that is you, then you should buy this camera.