Everyone loves taking selfies (right, Ellen?). The problem: You’re usually forced to use not just a smartphone camera, which is bad enough, but the crappier front-facing camera on it. Still, you need to see yourself on that LCD to frame the shot, so you grin and bear it, even though the part of you that likes good photos cries on the inside every time you snap one.
Samsung may have created the best solution to this problem in the NX Mini, which isn’t much heavier than a smartphone, but is also a full-featured mirrorless camera. The best part: It sports an articulating LCD screen that can flip over 180 degrees, letting you see yourself in all your selfie glory whenever you need to snap a quick shot of yourself.
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As cameras go, the NX Mini is tiny — smaller than many point-and-shoots, even. It’s just 0.89 inch thick, and without any lens it weighs a mere 5.6 ounces or about as heavy as a large smartphone. Lenses add a good chunk of weight of course, but with a smaller fixed lens, the camera is still extremely pocketable.
The NX Mini is so slim that Samsung actually had to create yet another lens system to go with it (mirrorless lenses already require a different system than DSLRs). Samsung is debuting three total lenses with the NX Mini — 9 mm and 17 mm fixed models, and a 9-27 mm zoom — but with a coming lens adapter, it’ll work with any NX lens.
I got a little hands-on time with the NX Mini, and it’s impressively small. While snapping some quick photos, autofocus was decently fast, but not as lickety-split as Sony’s recent Alpha models. It’s a little awkward when you flip out the LCD (it’s touch, so chances are you’ll accidentally tap a setting), but as a selfie cam, it’s fantastic. It even has cool tricks like a setting that will automatically shoot when you wink at the camera.
The NX Mini has great specs for its size: The 1-inch sensor captures pics up to 20.5 megapixels, and it can shoot video in 1080p format at 30 frames per second (H.264). Because of its small size, the controls are closer to a point-and-shoot than a prosumer camera, with zero dials manual controls accessible via the touch LCD. Like Samsung’s recent NX cameras and Gear watches, the NX Mini runs the Tizen OS.
Once you take your selfie, the camera has some helpful tools for sharing it as quickly as possible. Wi-Fi is pretty much standard on Samsung cameras these days, and it’s child’s play to relay pics to your phone via the company’s Smart Camera app. There are also built-in connections for faster relays to Dropbox and Flickr.
Design-wise, Samsung incorporated its recent obsession with “faux leather” material on the camera, which lends a pleasingly retro feel. The colors are good choices, too: white, black, brown, pink and mint green (my favorite).
The NX Mini goes on sale now, starting at $449 for a kit with a 9 mm lens, and $549 with the larger 9-27 mm lens. It comes with Adobe Lightroom 5. The NX lens adapter will be available in May.
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