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Samsung Digimax GX-10 Digital SLR Camera

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Samsung Digimax GX-10 Digital SLR Camera

Can changing the name on a camera save you money? Yes, when you take the Pentax K10D and call it the Samsung GX-10 Digital SLR Camera. The former, with a 27-83mm (35mm equivalent) zoom lens sells for $800, more or less, while the latter--virtually identical camera body and same lens--sells for $750. Given the GX-10's features, it's a bargain.

A bit on the bulky side, this DSLR still feels solid and comfortable in the hand, and has controls that are well placed for productive photography. I found that my index finger and thumb fell naturally in the right places for using the two setting-selector dials (one is in front of the shutter trigger; the other is on the back of the camera where the end of your thumb rests). The GX-10 looks and feels like it's ready for rugged use, with a solid body and seals on its battery, media, and I/O port doors. I still wouldn't take it into rough weather, though, because it has no seals where the lens attaches to the body.

I found only one truly irritating feature with the GX-10's design: The latches for the battery and SD Card media doors are small, fold-out twist locks. Turning these tiny and somewhat sharp lock tabs with my fingertips was actually painful.

In some ways, the GX-10 is a combination of old and new. Unlike nearly every other consumer DSLR currently on the market, it has no special scene modes (such as action shooting, scenic, beach and snow, portrait, and so on). On the other hand, its dedicated RAW button is unique. If you're shooting JPEGs and want to quickly switch to a higher-quality RAW image, you simply press the button. The camera will then take the shot in both RAW and JPEG formats. Press the button a second time and you're back to just JPEG mode.

Another enlightened feature is the stop-down button next to the shutter release (it's actually a dial that also turns the camera on and off). In one mode, it performs the traditional function of manually stopping down the lens aperture so that you can check your focus throughout the scene (in other words, the depth of field). In the second mode, it displays a preview of your photo on the camera's 2.5-inch color LCD by taking the shot, but not recording it to the SD Card media. It saves you the trouble of taking a series of pictures and then deleting them until you get it right.

Other highlights include a flexible system for limiting the automatic ISO's top and bottom range; an extended automatic bracketing feature that lets you pick white balance, contrast, saturation, or sharpness as parameters (this is much more than what you get with most other DSLRs); and a multi-exposure control that lets you overlay one or more images on top of another, in camera, without overexposing the final composite photo.

Mac users will probably want to look elsewhere: The capable RAW processing and image editing applications that Samsung provides are Windows only. You can get an Adobe Photoshop plug-in (Camera Raw 4.3) that supports the RAW format, but you'll need either Photoshop CS3 or Photoshop Elements, or an image-editing application that recognizes Photoshop plug-ins.

I was generally pleased with test shots produced by the GX-10. They were a little underexposed in many cases, but that's fairly common with digital SLRs. Colors were accurate and nicely saturated. In shots with extreme contrast, the GX-10 did a good job of maintaining shadow details. My one area of concern was image sharpness: Most shots, when viewed on screen at 100 percent magnification, looked noticeably softer than similar shots taken with a Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 and a Panasonic DMC-L10K that I reviewed at the same time. The PC World Test Center's formal evaluation had similar findings--the GX-10 ranked third from the bottom among models we've tested for image sharpness.

Nevertheless, the GX-10 gives you a lot for the money, even if it is a bit behind the curve in the latest DSLR technical advances. It has the same features as some other consumer SLRs, but the controls are not nearly as extensive, flexible, and nicely designed as, say, those on the Sony A700. Nevertheless, the GX-10 gives you a wealth of options, and as a Pentax in disguise, the selection of lenses available is relatively good.

Visit our Top 5 SLR Cameras chart and our Cameras Info Center.

--Tracey Capen

This story, "Samsung Digimax GX-10 Digital SLR Camera" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • An inexpensive, consumer-level digital SLR, the GX-10 captures well-exposed images, but our test shots weren't very sharp.

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