Samsung Enters 1” Mirrorless Market

(news & commentary)

Samsung introduced the NX Mini Smart camera and three lenses today. Using a 20mp 1” BSI CMOS sensor, the Mini Smart seemingly takes on several different players simultaneously: the Panasonic GM1, the Nikon J3, and the Sony RX-100. With it’s slim (22.5mm) and light (196g with battery) body coupled with some intelligent lens choices, the NX Mini Smart seems to be going after the “competent go everywhere” camera market. This is a camera that can fit in a modest purse, a big pocket, or get stuffed into a laptop case.

samsung mini nx.jpg

The camera can capture up to 6 fps and has a fast electronic shutter (1/16,000), WiFi with Samsung’s Tag & Go and Group Share features, has a small built-in flash (GN 4 at ISO 100), and has a tilting 461k dot display that can flip up 180°. No, there aren’t a lot of controls (basically an 8-button cluster that forms and is around the Direction pad). But that also means there’s a directness of purpose to the camera, too. It’s not a fiddly camera for enthusiasts with lots of override controls. 

Samsung is often accused of being a “copier” of successful products, but I’m going to give them credit here for finding an appropriate design, price, and feature set on their own that the dedicated camera makers really aren’t delivering, and that should resonate with a lot of users. Perhaps not those that read this site, but still, readers of this site buy cameras for their spouses and children, and the Mini Smart strikes me as the kind of smartphone step-up camera that the dedicated camera makers haven’t quite made, or have tried to make but haven’t gotten the details right on. Critical here are Samsung’s connectivity abilities, which are a bit more camera-controlled and useful than you see elsewhere. Samsung even supports Dropbox with the camera, and I can’t say that I’ve noticed Nikon or Canon or any of the others even acknowledge that popular way of moving files around between systems. 

The lenses announced are the 9mm (24mm equivalent) f/3.5 lens (US$449 bundled camera+lens kit), the 9-27mm (24-73mm equivalent) f/3.5-5.6 OIS (US$549 bundled camera+lens kit), and the 17mm (46mm equivalent) f/1.8 OIS (no price yet). Samsung NX lenses can also be used via the NX-M Mount Adapter, but note that 2.7x focal length adjustment for the 1” sensor. 

So where does this camera fit into the existing scene? It pretty much takes on the Panasonic GM1 directly, though the Panasonic has a few higher specifications and a bit more user control. I’d say that the Samsung NX Mini Smart pretty much kills the Nikon 1 S1 and J3 models for anyone but dedicated Nikkor users. Nikon simply missed the ball with the Nikon 1 by pricing it and marketing it the way they did. Now we’ve got other competitors that are honing in with better decisions and pricing, and in Samsung’s case, likely far better marketing and distribution (there’s no dedicated Nikon shop in every Best Buy, after all). Comparing to the Sony RX100 is a little tougher, as that camera is higher end and seriously pocketable. Still, the NX Mini Smart matches it in sensor and adds interchangeable lenses to the fray, at a lower price.

I look forward to testing this camera to see if it delivers on its promise.   

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