5.15.2014

A dedicated selfie camera from Samsung. Scaring the crap out of myself 20 megapixels a shot.

Scaring small children with stern selfies.
Mysteries of the universe abound. Two days ago Studio Dog rose from her nap, jumped to her feet and sounded the alarm that tells me the Fedex man is about to turn into the driveway with some package or another. The bark is very distinct. It's quite different for the UPS truck.

At any rate I ambled over to the door and accepted the insanely distorted Fedex box and wished the driver a good day. Studio Dog and I sniffed the box and discerned that it came from Samsung's P.R. agency in NYC. I thought it might be a t-shirt. But it was a bit heavy and angular for a t-shirt. I grabbed a vicious, cold steel stiletto and sliced the box open with the barest flick of my wrist. The contents were padded with some sort of color newspaper pages. When I pulled the box out of the box it turned out to be the container for a camera called a Samsung NX Mini.

And mine is, indeed, white. Right down to its wrist strap.

So what is this all about? Well, it's a tiny, thin, interchangeable lens, mirror-free camera that uses the Samsung version of a one inch sensor. The lens on the front of mine is a 9mm, f3.5 which corresponds (in full frame speak) to a 24mm lens. They also currently make a zoom that goes from 9mm to 27mm, which is about a 75mm big camera equivalent.

I assembled the camera and lens, put in the big battery and tossed in a micro-SD card. The camera spent a little time on a turbo-charged USB-4 terminal, sucked up enough juice to turn the battery light green and then we were off to the races. Scaring small children and mindlessly riding on escalators.

The camera is quick and agile but made with enough metal to give it a bit of gravitas. It has all the stuff I don't really care about, like NFC and wi-fi, and a few things I do care about like raw files and manual settings. And a battery that's rated for over 600 shots per charge.

The big draw of the camera is its selfie enabling design. The rear screen swivels up and around so you can see yourself over the top of the camera. You can click the shutter in the old school method or you can set the camera to trigger upon a gracious smile or a wink. I used the face detection Af and, since I rarely smile, I engaged the shutter with my index finger. We would have waited a long time for smile detection but, given enough time we might have pulled off a wink shutter by dint of some facial tick or another....

If you wear a suit and tie, or it is perennially winter in your locale, the camera is quite pocketable. If you wear a pair of jeans and a t-shirt as you everyday wear it is only pocketable if you like to present with a rectangular bulge in your pocket.

The camera is actually a very good performer. The exposures I took on a dark and overcast day were all very much on target and the AF only failed me when I didn't pay attention to what I should be aiming at. It has all the basic controls and setting parameters of its bigger brothers in the Samsung line up. And the menu beats the pants of just about any Nex I've had the pleasure to own.

It's actually a fun, quick camera to have around. The 20 megapixel sensor seems pretty darn good, the wide angle lens is nice and sharp, wide open and the rear screen is good for most work. If I were shooting seriously I'd have to put a Zacuto or Hoodman finder on the back of it to make it professional but that would almost triple the size of the package and would look pretty stupid.

This is pretty much the perfect camera for a compulsive perfectionist who loves to do selfies for social media but who wants something that generates higher quality files than all the cellphones on the market. It's also good for gruff, old cusses who just want a camera they can keep on the dashboard of the pick-up truck for quick snaps of stuff they come across on a day to day basis; like Sasquatch and Oil Derrick fires, and beautiful landscapes preening under the majestic setting sun of Texas.

A note to the marketing people: White? Really? White? Really? Not that there's anything wrong with white but was black or brown even an option? Really? White?

Ben was intrigued but I decided I'd keep this one around for my incredible number of selfies I expect to take on a day to day basis. Hmmmm. Ready? Crowd in close and we'll get a selfie of us in front of something very Austin-y. Like traffic. Or a music festival.

Added later: Target market???? See below:



12 comments:

Andrea said...

Nice review. And the "Target Market" photo is spot on, even if I usually don't use lipstick...

Dwight Parker said...

I would be very interested in reading a blog about Studio Dog's venturous life.....oh, I would still trad yours too Kirk...

Kirk Tuck said...

Studio Dog. She's the nexus of the business. Stern but fair. She likes some cameras, is indifferent to others and some she barks at. She is unimpressed by video.

Kirk Tuck said...

Andrea, The camera is actually very cool. A nice, sharp, wide lens, good menus, good--big--files and a nice screen. The selfies are an added extra. For the price it's pretty groovy.

Rick Baumhauer said...

I'm still left wondering what on Earth a camera like this needs 20Mp for; who is going to print anything from it? 12Mp would still be overkill, but wouldn't take up so much space on your phone/tablet/cloud storage.

Kirk Tuck said...

Actually Rick, I'm processing a few images I shot at the pool today and the files are incredibly detailed. This is actually a good camera for a pro who wants something to take literally anywhere and still get great, wide angle shots. Not everyone might be printing from the files but I will be. And everyone who doesn't need it can default to the smaller files (lots of choices) and get the benefits of down-sampling.

Rube Redfield said...

Kirk, I thought you were paring down, and jettisoning gear rather acquiring more, >grin<.

Rube Redfield said...

PS Forgot to sign. Sorry

Rube

Alex said...

Are they going to send you the Mini to NX adapter? Would be fun to shoot with 230mm F/1.4 lens!

Rick Baumhauer said...

Kirk - I'm not saying it's not a quality piece of equipment, just that Samsung has fallen into the same trap the rest of the industry keeps falling into: putting features in a camera that go against its intended use. That "target market" photo tells us everything about who this camera is really supposed to be for; any capabilities (including 20Mp files) that don't serve that market should be considered VERY carefully before inclusion. While it's nice that it could be a 'carry everywhere' camera for a pro, serving that market instead of the (much larger) market that will make or break this camera is foolish.

10-14Mp would still give plenty of detail, while making for smaller files to push across via WiFi to your phone for sharing on social media, without ever having to delve into the menus to change file size to something reasonable (which the 'target market' might never do). A stock 16GB Galaxy S4/5 has about half of that available to the user for apps, photos, music, etc - it seems silly to over-specify a camera that is clearly intended to be a high-end companion to a phone or tablet.

Andrea said...

BTW, about your stern looks check this:
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheUnSmile

Kirk Tuck said...

Rick, of course they want to be all things to all customers but it's quite simple to turn the jpeg size down to 10 or 5 or whatever. And the menu is pretty easy to get through....

It's an interesting addition to a crowded market. I can't see many pros grabbing it as an addition to a mirror less or smaller sized DSLR. And I'm not sure I can see people doing it as a step up from a phone but I'm not in anybody's real target market so.....

As for 20 megs being "overkill" you never know when those selfies are going to hit the bit screen. :-)