Samsung has signalled its entry to the nascent dSLR-that-isn't-a-dSLR market with the announcement of the NX series at this week's PMA trade show. These 'hybrid cameras' feature the interchangeable lens and large sensor of the dSLR, but with the mirror that gives the dSLR its name removed.
The removal of the mirror arrangement that defines the single-lens reflex camera means the NX series can be much smaller than true SLRs. It's a similar idea to the Micro Four Thirds format that first appeared in the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1.
The NX series has one advantage over Micro Four Thirds cameras: the size of its sensor. Micro Four Thirds is based on the Four Thirds system, which is smaller than the APS-C format used in most prosumer dSLRs. NX cameras will include an APS‑C sized sensor, which, depending on manufacturer, can be 105-145mm2 bigger than the Four Thirds system's 225mm2. The actual size difference will become clear when we get more details from Samsung.
When the G1 debuted, we were a little unsure about who would actually want this technology. The CEO of Samsung's newly formed dedicated digital imaging company has no such doubts. Sang-jin Park reckons "the hybrid digital camera market will be over 20 per cent of the global digital still camera market by 2012". The concept is a good one -- we have a couple of G1s in Crave Towers that we really don't want to give back -- but the price needs to be much more reasonable than the G1's £650. And that for a camera that doesn't shoot video.
Details are, as yet, thin on the ground, but the first concept is on show at PMA. We hope the NX-series cameras pack decent electronic viewfinders, which is for us the make-or-break feature of any dSLR-type camera. The NX series will be available in the second half of 2009. In the meantime, click through our photos for a glimpse of the first concept in the series.