One inch is getting big -- Samsung's now the third manufacturer to adopt the 1-inch sensor size, following the lead of Nikon and Sony. With its NX Mini, a camera with a completely new interchangeable-lens system, Samsung's going after the "style-conscious" buyer who wants a cell-phone companion camera that delivers better photo quality and more flexibility.
Samsung certainly seems to have gotten the "style" aspect. The NX Mini looks similar to the Fujifilm XF1 compact, and the combination of the magnesium alloy body with aluminum top plus faux leather is a lot more attractive (in my opinion, at least) than the comparatively sterile designs of the Nikon 1 and Sony RX100 lines.
The NIX Mini is under an inch thick without a lens, and remains a pocketable 1.4 inches thick when equipped with the 9mm pancake lens for one of the two initial kits. It will come in five different colors -- black, white, brown, light green, and the inevitable pink. It incorporates Samsung's signature 2014 suite of extensive and generally well-implemented connectivity options (detailed in the WB350 review). A touch-screen interface with selfie-friendly flip-up display and features also should hit the mark with its intended audience.
Unfortunately, I'm not sure this is the right camera for those folks. The two kit lenses Samsung will ship initially are a 9mm f3.5 pancake (24mm equivalent) and a 9-27mm f3.5-5.6 zoom (24-73mm equivalent). The 9mm lets the camera preserve its pocketable profile, but I don't think it makes a lot of sense for nonenthusiasts to supplement a fixed-focal-length phone camera with a camera equipped with a fixed-focal-length lens, regardless of the boost in photo quality. With the 9-27mm lens the camera is still attractive and compact, but not substantially more so than an APS-C- or Micro Four Thirds-based ILC. And both of the lenses are relatively slow; if indeed Samsung is right about people wanting shallower depth of field, these lenses can't sell it. A 17mm f1.8 (46mm equivalent) is slated to ship in July -- a little narrow for selfies but good for foodies -- but then we're back to the fixed focal-length conundrum.
A figurative show of hands: how many of you casual photographers would really prefer interchangeable lenses over a fast, fixed-lens zoom that retracts entirely like the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 and RX100 M2 have?
Samsung has also had to introduce a new lens mount for the system, dubbed NX-M, and while the broader selection of NX-mount lenses will work on the Mini with a $149 adapter, that also adds to the size and expense.
|Nikon 1 J3||Samsung NX Mini||Sony Cyber- shot DSC- RX100|
|Sensor (effective resolution)||14.2MP CMOS |
|20.5MP BSI CMOS |
|20.2MP Exmor CMOS |
|13.2 x 8.8mm||13.2 x 8.8mm||13.2 x 8.8mm|
|Focal- length multiplier||2.7x||2.7x||n/a|
|Sensitivity range||ISO 160 - ISO 6400||ISO 100 (expanded) / ISO 160 - ISO 12800 / ISO 25600 (expanded)||ISO 100 - ISO 6400|
|Burst shooting||15fps |
(60fps or 30fps with fixed AF)
(30fps at reduced resolution)
(10fps with fixed exposure)
|Autofocus||73-point phase detection, 135-area contrast AF||21-area contrast AF||25-area contrast AF|
|AF sensitivity range||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|Shutter speed||30 - 1/16,000 sec (electronic); bulb; 1/60 x-sync||30 - 1/16,000 sec (electronic); bulb to 4 min; 1/200 x-sync||30 - 1/2,000 sec; bulb|
|Metering range||n/a||0 - 18 EV||n/a|
|Best video||1080/60i/30p, 720/60p H.264 MPEG-4 QuickTime MOV||1080/30p H.264 MPEG-4||AVCHD: |
|LCD size||3-inch fixed |
|3-inch tilt up |
|3-inch fixed |
(plus another set of white dots for brightness)
(WU-1b Wireless Mobile Adapter, $59.95)
|Storage||1 x SD||1 x microSD||1 x SD|
|Battery life (CIPA rating)||220 shots||645 shots||330 shots|
|Size (WHD)||4 x 2.4 x 1.1 (inches) |
101 x 60.5 x 28.8 (mm)
|4.3 x 2.4 x 0.9 (inches) |
110.4 x 61.9 x 22.5 (mm)
|4 x 2.4 x 1.4 (inches) |
101.6 x 58.1 x 35.9 (mm)
|Body operating weight||7.1 oz (est) |
|6.9 oz (est) |
|8.5 oz |
|Mfr. price |
28 - 100mm
|$399.95 (with 10-30mm lens)||$449 (with 9mm lens)||n/a|
|$649.95 (with 10-30 and 30-110mm lenses)||$569 (with 9-27mm lens)||n/a|
|Ship date||February 2014||April 2014||July 2012|
Samsung certainly gets style and connectivity right, but it will be interesting to see if the NX Mini really appeals to enough people enough to buy. And I'm really curious to see how the Mini's photo quality stacks up against the rest of the 1-inch club.