Question: I have read your columns about refurbished interchangeable lens cameras and given the prices I would like to try one, but I don't trust refurbished stuff. Any suggestions? - T.B., St. Louis
Answer: Check out Samsung's NX1000 and NX1100 models.
I have played with Samsung's mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras at trade shows but until recently had not tried one. When Samsung's PR agency offered me the chance to borrow an NX1100 for review I jumped at the chance. Of particular interest was a $599 bundle that includes an NX1100 with 20-50mm kit lens and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 tablet. At the time I wrote this the bundle was available at Sam's Club with a $50 instant savings, for a total of $549. The camera is available in white or black and includes a flash unit.
Although the NX1100 body is tiny it features an APS-C sensor, the same size as most full-size digital SLRs. It has a whopping 20.3 megapixels, about as high as you can go without getting into semi-pro systems. When you are ready to expand Samsung has a nice selection of high-quality lenses available.
Long-term readers know I have often pointed out high megapixel counts are not a predictor of picture quality. I am pleased to announce the NX1100 makes great use of its pixels to produce sharp, clean, natural-looking images that could be enlarged to the size of a billboard. The camera's jpg picture quality is excellent, if a bit behind the silky-smooth perfection of the top cameras in the category.
The NX1100 includes Wi-Fi for easy sharing and instant transfer to your smartphone, tablet or other device. The Wi-Fi feature was easy and intuitive to use and can transfer files at full resolution. You also can connect to the Galaxy Tab and use the tablet to control the camera remotely, with the tablet serving as the camera's viewfinder. Very cool!
The downsides are few. The body is all plastic and although it does not feel cheap, it does not feel premium either. The same can be said of the rear display, which is very good, if not class-leading. The 20-50mm kit lens does not have image stabilization, and neither does the camera body for that matter. To its credit the lens is tack sharp and I found the camera easy to hold steadily.
I am really glad I tested the Samsung NX1100. The camera has that elusive quality that makes you want to pick it up and take pictures. I recommend it because it is so good, not just because it is so affordable.
If you want an NX1100 I think the bundle with the Galaxy Tab 2 is the way to go. You get a great small interchangeable lens camera, a $199 tablet, and a $149 copy of Adobe Lightroom for a total of $549 to $599. If you just want the camera I would seek out Samsung's NX1000, which is apparently identical and sells online for less than $350 but does not include Adobe Lightroom 4.
Either the NX1000 or NX1100 are a great way to get started with a small-system camera, as well as a phenomenal, affordable upgrade to a point and shoot.
Contact Don Lindich at soundadviceblog.com and use the "submit question" link on that site.
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