While the biggest camera companies debuted only point-and-shoots or no cameras at all during CES 2011, a few smaller players, including Samsung, broke out some bigger firepower at the Las Vegas Convention Center last weekend. Sammy's headliner was the NX11 mirrorless system shooter, a modest update to last year's NX10. We got to spend a few minutes lightly testing it; while a new mirrorless camera is always an interesting development, there's not much here that separates the NX11 from last year's NX10. They use the same sensor and have a nearly identical design. With a firmware update, the NX10 can do almost anything the NX11 can.
That said, if you're looking to buy into a mirrorless system, the NX11 is still a compelling package deal. Though the APS-C CMOS sensor is unchanged, it's still the largest sensor you'll find in a mirrorless camera and thus offers the best chance for consistently excellent image quality. It's still a small camera too, like a flattened superzoom. It also ships with an iFunction lens and out-of-the-box iFunction-ality. Samsung is really pushing this feature; it places a function hot-key on the lens, right where your hand will probably be while framing a shot. It cycles through menus for common adjustments like white balance, ISO, aperture and shutter priorities, so on and so forth, and the lens-mounted control ring adjusts those settings. It's a slick, intuitive system, and Samsung finally has a healthy number of lenses available to meet most shooting needs. In short, the NX11 is not a worthy upgrade for those with an NX10, but it's another capable member of the growing mirrorless family and an ergonomic alternative to the slim, sleek NX100.
We also got to check out Samsung's latest point-and-shoots, seven in total: three compact zooms, three DualViews, and the Android-controlled SH100 compact.
The flagship WB700 packs an 18x optical zoom -- the longest we've seen in a compact camera -- while the WB210 offers a “Super Wide” 21mm mode. Those big numbers have our attention; we hope that they shoot cleaner pictures than last year's HZ30W and HZ35W did.
The new DualViews are more of what we've come to expect from this useful, dual-LCD series. The top-of-the-line ST700 features a big ol' 1.8-inch LCD on the front, a wide 3-inch touchscreen on the rear, and a redesigned user interface based on Samsung's succesful mobile phone interfaces.
Anything groundbreaking? No. Anything to complain about? The booth tour was unhelpful on many levels. But as far as the cameras go, time will tell, though our initial impressions are mostly positive.