Samsung's new interchangeable-lens camera system focuses on good looks, small size, and connectivity. Oh, and selfies. It's called the NX Mini, and it will hit the shelves in April.
The NX Mini is out to capture the hearts and minds of fashionable—and self-obsessed—folks who want to step up from a smartphone but don't want to lug around a DSLR or larger mirrorless camera.
It fills that particular niche with a one-inch, 20.5 megapixel BSI CMOS sensor. That's pretty much the same spec as the king-of-the-pocket Sony RX100 Mark II. The big difference between the two cameras, however, is that the NX Mini features switchable lenses, where the RX100 has a fixed zoom lens. In that way it is more like the Panasonic GM1, which is also very small with interchangeable lenses. The GM1 has a larger micro four thirds sensor, however.
Everything about this camera screams simplicity and sleekness. It's got little in the way of physical controls. Most functions are controlled by the three-inch touch screen, which of course is flippable a full 180 degrees around so that you can take pictures of yourself.
With three lenses being announced at launch, Samsung is betting that the same audience who wants pocketable cameras also wants to fiddle around with glass, which seems like a significant gamble. With such fast and versatile lenses featured on high-end compacts like the Sony RX100, people looking for ultimate portability don't want the burden of carrying around extra lenses that only make the camera larger. And yet!
The new lens system built around the NX Mini consists of a wide-angle 9mm f/3.5 lens (that's the full-frame equivalent of about 24mm), and an optically stabilised 9-27mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom (24-70mm equivalent). You can buy the camera in a kit with either lens, the 9mm kit costing around £271 (straight conversion of $450, likely to be more expensive after tax and duties) and the 9-27mm costing approximately £331 (straight conversion of $550). Coming a few months down the road is a 17mm f/1.8 (45mm equivalent). You can also purchase a £90 (conversion of $159) adapter that will attach larger Samsung NX lenses to the NX Mini.
A few tidbits that stand out about this camera are an electronic shutter with a maximum speed of 1/16000, a high-capacity battery rated for over 600 shots, and a rear illuminated sensor, which should be a boon to low light performance. It is able to shoot reduced-resolution bursts of 30 fps, with a standard full-res speed of 6 fps.
The NX Mini comes equipped for immediate social sharing with Wi-Fi and NFC, along with Samsung's dictionary-length roster of catchy share-y names like AutoShare, AutoBackup, Mobile Link, Samsung Link, Group Share, Photo Beam, and uh, Baby Monitor. It has a tiny built-in flash, and shoots your basic 1080p video at 30 frames per second. The 22.5mm thick body will come in white, black, brown, mint green, and pink.
The NX Mini may be able to find a home with fashion-conscious youngsters, but we doubt it will hold much appeal for more discriminating photographers. The 9mm f/3.5 kit lens is really quite slow for a prime lens, and aside from the upcoming 17mm f/1.8, there is no indication as to the extent this lens system will evolve.
The biggest question mark is whether the interchangeable lens/pocketability combination of the NX Mini will compel enough people to spring for it over the even-more-pocketable RX100 Mark II, or the larger-sensor Panasonic GM1. Both of those cameras cost £579. If you are considering the NX Mini, it's probably for price; with a kit cost of around £271, it's a significantly cheaper option.