As a supplement to yesterday's post on the menu system, we'll dig into some related tools and a weakness of the NX10.
Functions similar to the Picture Wizard are also offered in the GF-1 and GXR under different codenames. What makes NX10's stand out is not the gimmick per se but the accessibility and flexibility bestowed by the smart menu system.
The quick accessibility to adjust each of the 12 "moods" under the Picture Wizard– three are customisable – invites the user to really use it. This function can be swiftly accessed and activated from the quick menu through a few presses on the Fn button and arrows keys. For this reason, I have found myself using this function more often than when testing the GXR and GF-1.
This reveals the truth that if some functions of a camera are great but we never spend time again with them after the first try, it could be because of their bad accessibility which deters us from using them.
As shown above, the 9 pre-set "moods" from top-left are, namely, Standard, Vivid, Portrait, Landscape, Forest, Retro, Cool, Calm and Classic. Click open the image to check out the effects and you can see what the "moods" can do. Take for example, Portrait smoothens the contrast; Landscape biases the colours towards green; Calm mutes the colours. The results are effective. The only thing is that I prefer the black-and-white images produced by GXR and GF-1 to that by NX10's the Classic mood. The black elements here look a bit too mushy.
Is this the capability of the sensor? This brings us to the next issue.
It was a gloomy, cloudy day when I took these photos. The exposure difference between the sky and the sandy beach was like 5 to 6 EV apart. I wondered if using the NX10, I could come up with an image detailing the beach and the thick clouds in one picture.
But I had no luck at all. No matter which exposure combos, white balance corrections or picture "moods" I tried, the NX10 failed to capture the images of the same exposure latitude afforded by – boggling to me enough – my GX200.
I tried over 10 shots doing the images both horizontally and vertically, and alternatively with the NX10 and GX200. The results confirmed the same observation. This is so unbelievable that I still tend to think that I made some mistakes – fact is, I'm sure I didn't. The following images done with the GX200 using the WB correction just strike a better balance in the overall details (check out the texture of the clouds and the sandy beach).
There are several ways to adjust the white balance: by the pre-set WB options like Daylight or Cloudy; by K value; by fine adjustments (called "WB Adjust").
The fine adjustment works exactly the same as Ricoh cameras' WB correction function to give the image some colour tints. It is like having digital coloured filters built in the NX10. This is a brilliant idea worthy of a hat tip (to Samsung and Ricoh). Mark that the GF-1 doesn't have this handy function, and it should.
Another handy function is the one-press button to activate the white balance adjustment option, with the caveat that this button can be accidentally touched on and spoil the otherwise perfect photos. But when the photographer needs to constantly tweak the white balance to cater for special lighting conditions or effects, this button helps.
The button is situated on the camera body right next to the lens mount where the middle figure can comfortably reach. The key can be customised to activate optical preview for the DOF.
As for the AWB, it is quite reliable in capturing the atmosphere of, say, the following scene with yellowish lighting.
The one-press WB key allows users to really swiftly tweak the colour tone. The adjusted WB did away with the yellowish tungsten tint veiling the image. During the testing, I didn't come across any weakness in its AWB function.
All in all, the smart menu system has made the NX10's great functions of Picture Wizard and WB Adjust more inviting than otherwise. Again, we feel that the smart menu system of NX10 greatly enhances its ergonomics which is a very important aspect to just any camera. As I have been saying all along, given the sensors and imaging engines of comparable capabilities, serious compacts of the same class give roughly the same IQ. So, between a user-friendly camera and the one not so, the winner is clear.
After all, as a street photographer, I always find a camera with better ergonomics catering better for unexpected scenes which can present themselves in any minute.
The NX10 field report is to be continued.