In the all-too-distant days of my youth, I had a budget SLR camera with a couple of lenses and a collection of filters, and I like to think that I took a few good snaps with it. Life moves on, and priorities change, and after a while I found that instead of taking the SLR with me on holiday I’d just buy those cheap disposable cameras as I needed them: much more pocketable.
When I started LKL, after surviving for a while on the camera built in to my smartphone, I soon realised the need for something a bit more sophisticated. A Canon Digital Ixus has served me reasonably well over the past couple of years. It fits neatly in the pocket, being no bigger than a mobile phone, and is reasonably robust. It goes with me whenever I go to a Korea-related event, and produces OK results in normal light.
But much of the time, the events I cover are in lecture theatres or concert halls, where the light is not good enough. The Ixus tries hard at high ISO settings (my own model only goes up to 800), but the results are inevitably very grainy.
So it’s time to upgrade to something with a bigger sensor, but something which will still fit into my compact manbag which I take to and from work every day. Step in the intermediate “micro four thirds” space between the point-and-press compacts and the SLRs, dominated by the Olympus Pen and the Panasonic Lumix GF1 families: no SLR mirrors, which make for more compact bodies, but interchangeable lenses for flexibility and larger sensors for better images particularly in low light. The two cameras are pretty much neck-and-neck from the performance perspective, with the Lumix possibly having the edge, but the Pen winning hands-down in terms of overall coolness.
Samsung has now joined the party with its NX10, and the initial reviews (for example, in the 3 April edition of Amateur Photographer) are very favourable: it has a larger sensor than both the Pen and the GF1, has a built in viewfinder and flash, and is competitive in terms of price. It’s not the best-looking machine, but you can’t have everything.
So will the Samsung NX10 become LKL’s official camera? Well, it depends what the Dixons Duty Free outlet at Heathrow has in stock when I’m on my way to Seoul later this month. All these cameras are on the pricey side, so if I can make a decent saving on any of them at the airport, that’s the one I’ll get.