In the latest installment of “cameras are getting more like smartphones,” we have the Samsung NX Mini. Unlike the rest of Samsung’s interchangeable-lens NX lineup, it uses a brand-new lens mount that accepts diminutive optics. This interchangeable-lens camera slips easily into a pocket, even with its pancake kit lens attached.
The body of the NX Mini is absurdly slim. It’s just 0.88 inches deep, which is just a bit more than the thickness of a couple of iPhone 4S’s stacked on top of each other. Samsung says its “Smart Camera 3.0” platform is built into the camera, allowing for wireless sharing via Wi-Fi and NFC, sidecar remote-control and remote-viewfinder apps, and even a baby-monitor feature.
There’s no eye-level optical or electronic viewfinder, but the NX Mini features a flip-up 3-inch touchscreen. It’s similar to the ones found in the company’s older MV800 point-and-shoots, and it can be flipped up to face forward and help shooters frame their own selfies.
The sensor is a 20-megapixel, 1-inch-type CMOS imager that’s the same size as the ones found in some mirrorless and high-end fixed-lens cameras. Samsung wasn’t able to comment on whether the sensor in the NX Mini is a new Samsung-developed rival to the similar chips found in the Sony RX100 and Nikon 1 series of cameras.
Shutter speed tops out at an impressive 1/16,000 of a second, and the NX Mini’s continuous-shooting mode maxes out at 6fps. It also shoots 1080p video at 30fps in movie mode. There’s a point-and-shoot like array of buttons on the back of the camera to control exposure settings and navigate the menus, so it’s a manual-capable camera that’s certainly geared to casual, style-minded photographers.
One of the tradeoffs of such a slim camera — other than the lack of a physical mode dial and quick access to exposure controls via knobs and buttons — is that the flange-back distance is so tight that there’s likely to be a significant crop factor. That’s certainly the case with the NX Mini, which has a focal-length multiplier of 2.7X. It will be available in two kit configurations: A 9mm/F3.5 pancake lens that has a 24mm equivalent field of view when mounted on the camera, and a 9-27mm zoom lens that has a 24-73mm field of view when in use.
The tight quarters also mean that the NX Mini uses Micro SD cards rather than full-size SD. It’ll be available starting in April for $450 as a kit with the 9mm pancake and $550 as a kit with the zoom lens and an external flash. And it’s a camera that’s geared more towards the fashionable than the hard-core photographer set, so naturally it’ll be available in mint green, pink, white, brown, and black. It also comes with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5, which is nice.