DCRP

Samsung NX210 Review

by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor

Originally Posted: July 6, 2012

Last Updated: August 2, 2012

The Samsung NX210 ($899) is a compact mirrorless interchangeable lens camera -- err, Smart Camera. Samsung has given the "Smart Camera" moniker to all of their Wi-Fi equipped cameras this year, and their implementation of this feature is one of the best I've seen. In addition to it's Wi-Fi capabilities (which I'll cover in-depth in the review), the NX210 also features a new 20.3 Megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, plenty of automatic and manual controls, a gorgeous OLED display, 8 frame/second continuous shooting, and Full HD video recording. As with previous NX-series cameras, the NX210 uses Samsung's proprietary NX lens mount, though adapters for other mounts are available.

The NX210 has two siblings, both of which have the same sensor and a similar feature set -- just in different bodies. The chart below compares and contrasts the three models (you may need to widen your screen so it'll fit):

Feature NX1000 NX210 NX20
MSRP * $699 $899 $1099
Body style Rangefinder Rangefinder SLR
Sensor 20.3 Megapixel CMOS
Included lens 20 - 50 mm 18 - 55 mm
Display size (resolution) 3-inch LCD (921k px) 3-inch AMOLED (614k px)
Display position Fixed Rotating
Electronic viewfinder No Yes
Built-in flash No ** Yes
Shutter speed range 30 - 1/4000 sec 30 - 1/8000 sec
Wi-Fi capable Yes (802.11n)
Battery used BP1030
Battery life (CIPA standard) 320 shots 330 shots 360 shots
Dimensions (W x H x D) 4.5 x 2.5 x 1.5 in. 4.6 x 2.5 x 1.4 in. 4.8 x 3.5 x 1.6 in.
Weight 222 g 222 g 341 g

* With kit lens
** Compact external flash included

As you can see by how short this chart is, there really isn't a huge difference between the three cameras. Their guts are largely identical, with the main differences being their designs, and the type of display used for composing your photos. The $200 price difference between the NX1000 and NX210 is pretty substantial, especially when you consider that you're really only getting the OLED display and slightly better build quality.

With that out of the way, we can now delve into the details of the Samsung NX210!

What's in the Box?

The NX210 is available in just one kit (priced at $899), which includes Samsung's standard 18 - 55 mm kit lens. Here's what you'll find upon opening the box:

  • The 20.3 effective Megapixel Samsung NX210 camera body
  • F3.5-5.6, 18 - 55 mm (Mk III) Samsung i-Function lens
  • BP1030 lithium-ion battery
  • Battery charger
  • SEF8A compact external flash
  • Body cap
  • Shoulder strap
  • USB cable
  • CD-ROM featuring Samsung Intelli-studio, RAW Converter, and PC Auto Backup
  • 83 page basic manual (printed) + full manual on CD-ROM

The NX210 comes with the third revision of Samsung's standard 18 - 55 mm OIS kit lens. This lens features their i-Function feature, which lets you adjust camera settings with the focus ring after pressing the i-Function button. While some may find this feature handy, I found operation a to be a little awkward. Image quality on my 18-55 was pretty solid, at least by kit lens standards. Samsung has eight other lenses available, including a trio of pancake lenses, 60 and 85 mm primes, and an 18 - 200 that'll cover virtually any situation that'll come up. Whichever lens you use, there will be a 1.5X crop factor to keep in mind.

Interchangeable lens cameras like the NX210 never come with memory cards. So, if you don't have one already, you'll need to pick one up. The NX210 supports SD, SDHC, and SDXC media, and I'd recommend picking up an 8GB card if you'll be taking mostly still photos, and perhaps a 16 GB card if you'll be recording a lot of Full HD videos.

The NX210 uses the well-traveled BP1030 lithium-ion battery for power. Samsung has managed to cram 7.6 Wh of energy into this compact battery, and the NX210 will need it, since Wi-Fi can be quite the power eater. Let's see what kind of battery life you'll get with Wi-Fi turned off:

Camera Battery life w/live view
(CIPA standard)
Battery used
Nikon 1 J1 230 shots EN-EL20
Olympus E-P3 300 shots BLS-1 / BLS-5
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 300 shots * DMW-BLD10
Pentax K-01 500 shots D-LI90
Samsung NX210 330 shots BP1030
Sony Alpha NEX-5N 430 shots NP-FW50

* With the 14 - 42 mm kit lens

Battery life numbers are provided by the manufacturer

The strong performances from the Pentax and Sony cameras places the NX210 a bit below the group average. As I mentioned above, these numbers are calculated with Wi-Fi turned off. If you use it frequently, expect the battery to drain a lot quicker (though Samsung doesn't say by how much). That makes buying a spare battery a smart idea, with a Samsung-branded BP1030 setting you back around $50.

When you need to recharge the BP1030, just pop it into the included charger. This charger, which requires a power cable, takes 140 minutes to fully charge the battery.

The NX210 has a fairly standard set of accessories for a mirrorless ILC. Here are the most interesting accessories:

Accessory Model # Price * Description
K-mount adapter MA9NXK From $167 Let's you use Pentax K-mount lenses with the NX210, though only manual focus is supported.
External flash

SEF220A
SEF42A

$149
From $224
The SEF220A is a basic external flash with a guide number of 16 m. The SEF42A has a GN of 42 and can be tilted upward for bounce flash. It also sports an AF-assist lamp.
GPS receiver GPS10 $158 Attaches via the hot shoe and saves the location where photos are taken.
Remote shutter release SR2NX02 $30 A shutter release button on a cable. Comes in handy when taking long exposures.
Quick battery charger QBC1NX01 From $59 This charger can fill up the BP1030 in just 70 minutes.
Jacket case with shoulder strap CJN200B $70 A classic rangefinder-style leather jacket case, which protects the front and bottom of the camera
* Prices were accurate at time of publication

What's missing here? First, there's no AC adapter, so the NX210 will have to run on battery power only. Also, there's no electronic viewfinder, which a lot of people like to have on cameras like this.

Samsung includes two photo editors with the NX210, along with the software necessary to use the Auto Backup feature on Windows PCs. The first editor, for Windows only, is Intelli-studio, which is pretty standard fare for bundled software. It'll transfer photos to your computer, let you edit things like brightness/contrast/saturation/sharpness, remove redeye, or add special effects to a photo. A video editing feature is also available.

For your RAW editing needs, there's Samsung RAW Converter, which is a slightly re-badged version of SilkyPix Developer Studio 4.0. While a very capable editor, the clunky interface and sometimes sluggish performance doesn't place SilkyPix very high on my list of RAW editors. Thankfully, you can use Adobe Photoshop's Camera Raw feature instead, assuming that you have the latest version of the plug-in.

As is usually the case these days (much to my dismay), the NX210's documentation is split into two parts. In the box you'll find a fairly length "basic operation" manual, which will get you up and running. This manual is quite cluttered and confusing, though. The rest of the documentation is in PDF format on an included CD-ROM. It's much easier reading, and the "concepts in photography" at the beginning is a nice touch. Instructions for using the bundled software is installed onto your computer.

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