Samsung GX-10 Review
Guide price: £700 with 18-55mm lens
Digital SLR Photography Test: December 2007
The GX-10 is proof that Samsung needs to be taken seriously!
Samsung entered the digital SLR market just over a year ago with the launch of the entry-level GX-1-series, based on the Pentax *ist DL. Its latest model, the GX-10, is aimed at the advanced amateur looking for an affordable but durable and feature-packed DSLR. How does it fare in such a competitive area of the market? Daniel Lezano finds out.
HANDLING & EASE OF USE:
The Samsung feels like a serious bit of kit. Unlike entry-level models that have compact, lightweight bodies, the GX-10 is chunky, solidly made (over 70 seals protect its body from dust, water and humidity) and at a little over 700 grams, a relative heavyweight in the consumer SLR arena. The large, rubberised handgrip provides a very secure purchase and the camera has a very nice balance.
All the controls are well sized and clearly marked, so finding your way around and operating the controls should be relatively straightforward. There are quite a number of buttons, which could prove intimidating to beginners, but the GX-10 is aimed at the more experienced user, who should find the neat array quite easy to get used to. The top-plate is traditionally designed, with an exposure dial on the left and information LCD panel on the right. The majority of camera controls are found on the top-plate and right side of the rear of the camera, while the buttons to the left of the 2.5in LCD handle image review/editing and the on-screen menu. The menu navigation system is excellent. It has a professional and polished look to it and working your way through the menu system is very intuitive.
Another area that scores highly is the viewfinder, which gives a large, bright image and a comprehensive readout along the bottom. However, LEDs/markings to show the position of the 11 AF points, rather than the frame lines to indicate the area it covers would have been preferred.
The GX-10 sports a 10.2-megapixel APS-C-sized CCD, which effectively increases the focal length of lenses used with it by 1.5x (i.e. the supplied 18-55mm is effectively a 27-82mm zoom). Its maximum resolution is 3872x2592 pixels, which is certainly capable of producing images that can be printed to A3. With the camera aimed at experienced users, there are no subject-based modes like Portrait or Action, but rather Program and a full range of semi-automatic and manual modes. These include two modes only previously seen on the Pentax K10D, namely Sensitivity-priority and Shutter & aperture priority, modes which both use changes in the ISO rating to give the correct exposure. Nicely placed at the base of the exposure mode dial is a three-way switch for setting the metering pattern, with a choice of 16-zone multi-pattern, centre-weighted average and spot. There are also three main options for the autofocus system, with the choice to have all 11 AF points active, allow the user to choose an active point, or to set the AF to use the central point only. Where the GX-10 scores highly is the depth of features and innovations that it boasts, considering its price tag. The Shake Reduction system effectively means that every shot taken on the camera can benefit from image stabilisation if activated. The GX-10 also features a three-stage dust removal system, to ensure that the risk of dust spots affecting images is kept to a minimum. A set of digital filters allows you to shoot images with a range of effects including monochrome, sepia or soft focus and the Samsung is only one of a handful of digital SLRs that allows multiple exposures to be taken. The final special feature worth noting is the in-camera Raw converter, which lets you create JPEGs from Raw files and specify the White Balance, sensitivity and other variables. In short, there is little lacking in the way of features for the enthusiast on the GX-10.
With such a range of features, you’d expect the Samsung to perform well and it doesn’t disappoint. Image quality is excellent, with very good levels of detail and colour reproduction. Noise is very well controlled, with images up to ISO 400 showing negligible grain and even shots at ISO 800 proving more than acceptable. You’ll find you’ll rarely need to go as high, as the Shake Reduction system works very well and offers a better alternative for handholding at low light than raising the ISO rating.
The autofocus proves very positive in all lighting conditions and while the continuous AF struggles with very quick subjects, its good enough to follow children at play. One area I noticed a slight improvement over the Pentax was the difference in sharpness of the JPEG files, with the Samsung just having the edge. As with the Pentax, the Samsung’s multi-zone system occasionally falters, underexposing when you would not expect it to. On the flip side, it often handles tricky lighting situations better than you’d think, giving the correct exposure when you’d think it would make an error.
TEST VERDICT:The GX-10 is proof that Samsung needs to be taken seriously. Built to take heavy use, packed with features and producing excellent quality images, there is little to fault (apart from the erratic metering). Add to this the very low price and you have to say this kit is superb value for money.
VALUE FOR MONEY 24/25
FINAL SCORE 91/100
SAMSUNG GX-10 SPECIFICATION
Type: Interchangeable lens digital SLR
Lens mount: Pentax KAF2 mount
CCD sensor: 23.7x15.7mm with total of 10.75-million pixels. Features Opto-mechanical sensor with Shake Reduction function
Effective pixels: 10.2-million pixels
Max image size: 3872x2592 pixels
Effective length increase formats: 1.5x Viewfinder: Fixed eye-level type. 0.95x magnification & 95% frame coverage
Autofocus: 11-point AF (SAFOX VIII) with nine cross-type sensors. AF range: -1 to +18EV. Automatic and manual focus point selection, spot focus. Focus mode: AF.S (Single); AF.C (Continuous); Manual focus
Exposure modes: Program, Hyper Program, aperture- & shutter-priority; aperture-priority, shutter-priority, Sensitivity priority and Manual Metering: 16-segment, spot and centre-weighted average. Metering range: 0-21 EV
Flash: P-TTL autoflash. Guide Number 15.6 at ISO 200; flash coverage 28mm (35mm equivalent)
White Balance: Auto, or manual, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Flash, 3 settings for Kelvin & Mired with fine adjustments
Storage media: SD (supports SDHC) File formats: Raw (PEF, DNG), JPEG, DCF, RAW + JPEG ISO Range: 100-1600 Shutter range: 1/4000 to 30sec plus Bulb. Flash sync: 1/180sec LCD Monitor: 2.5in 210,000 pixels TFT Power: Rechargeable Lithium-ion (D-LI50) battery
Other features: Dust Reduction; Shake Reduction; Exposure compensation (+/-3EV); depth-of-field preview; mirror lock-up; digital filters (b&w, sepia etc); custom functions
Dimensions: 141.5x101x70mm Weight: 710g (body only)
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