Here's one thing Samsung is not good at: Marketing stand alone cameras outside of South Korea. Here's one thing Samsung is very, very good at: Making state of the art processor, memory and imaging semiconductors. Always seems like a great idea to play to your strengths.
There are two rumors floating around right now and I am inclined to believe them both. One is that Samsung is exiting the camera markets almost everywhere in the world, outside their own home market. And probably there too. The problem for Samsung was one of marketing which, by extension, effected their decision making in camera design. They consistently launched relatively expensive mirrorless cameras with no EVFs and no possibility of hooking up an aftermarket EVF finder. They consistently made cameras with good video capability at the chip level but with no microphone inputs. They misread the amount of demand for cameras with full bore Android operating systems inside. They tried to wrap a marketing campaign around #DitchtheDSLR but they never made the arguments for why one should get rid of a perfectly good camera to embrace one that was more or less unknown. One without a supporting campaign of features and benefits. They tried to paint the status quo DSLR as something bad instead of touting the things their mirrorless cameras supposedly did better. The marketplace judged the value of things included and things left off the various and then voted with their wallets. In most markets it was thumbs down.
But the thing to remember is that the parts that were just about the technology were very, very good. And then we come to Nikon.
The rumor is that Nikon is buying Samsung's camera tech in order to bound into the mirrorless ring with gusto and present us with a "professional" mirrorless system. I sure as hell hope there's someone smart at the controls there and that Nikon doesn't stub their toes hard trying catch up all at once. I'd rather see them take it all one step at a time.
The no brainer is the actual sensor. The NX1 proved that Samsung could make a great APS-C sensor and they bolstered the performance of the sensor by surrounding it with fast image processing chips. Nikon needs an alternative to Sony as an imaging sensor supplier. Having a single supplier is like having one client; it's dangerous. Nikon can start by implementing the BSI sensor tech from Samsung into their APS-C cameras which will get them more resolution and more speed. And the experienced people at Nikon can get the colors right. Or at least more right than Samsung did.
The imaging sensor and the surrounding support team of micro processors and micro controllers are also part of the secret sauce for the 4K video.
If Nikon's first steps are to use the chips to speed up overall processing and also provide highly competitive video I'll be happy if they stop there to catch their breath.
The next step would be for Nikon to introduce the EVF from the NX1 into one of their APS-C bodies. They could keep the lens mount and just eliminate the mirror. That should provide backward compatibility with a rich and really good selection of current and past lenses. Once they do a good job with the video and the EVF they've pretty much entered into the realm of what I want out of a mirrorless camera.
I hope Nikon will resist two things which, I think, would kill them in the advanced consumer and professional markets. They must avoid, at all costs, the temptation to abandon the existing lens mount and introduce a system designed around the Samsung mount. I understand the lure of not having to make the adaptations from system to system and I understand very well the value of being able to put lots of different lenses (other than Nikons) on the front of the camera, but a major selling point of Nikon for decades and generations of photographers has been the backward compatibility of the lenses. I suppose it would work to use a shorter flange distance and come out with a seamless adapter to use the lenses in question but I think they will run into the same marketing issues that have plagued Samsung and Sony, and at the same time have served Nikon and Canon so well; the idea that the camera body is an introduction into a massive inventory of existing glass that is time tested and familiar. That Sony and Samsung haven't reached a usable stable of lenses, much less an inventory of lenses that cover everything professionals and advanced amateurs might need. But those lenses we want already exist across Nikon and Canon's lines.
The second thing I hope Nikon resists is trying to make their new cameras too small just for the sake of marketing in the few countries in the world where people have smaller hands, smaller homes, smaller offices and smaller purses. It's my hope that, from a handling point of view, that Nikon stick to a minimum size of the APS-C line of cameras they are selling right now. While I love the Olympus EM5.2 cameras we are already under the limits of size-to-convenient use ratios and I fear more shrinkage. We need to be able to hold our cameras securely and access the buttons on the tops and back with authority.
Nikon has a reputation to maintain and I hope they don't destroy it by going too far too fast.
In all, this could be a good thing for Nikon and Samsung. Good for Samsung because I think the camera division was a distraction, and a field they just don't understand from a world use perspective. They simply didn't have enough time and research in the user field to understand how best to market their cameras to enthusiasts. A hash tag campaign and the besmirching of a product category isn't really marketing. At least not marketing that will build long term clientele.
It's bound to be a good thing for Nikon because it gives them more options and more diverse product to sell. They could very well have a flagship line with full frame, highly capable traditional cameras, a second line of state of the art, mirrorless APS-C cameras and perhaps a total refresh of their purse cameras, the N1 System. They just need to resist the temptation to combine everything into some sort of Frankenstein product inventory. We've already lived through that.
Keep the mount, leverage the sensor.
Keep the lenses, leverage the processor speeds.
Keep the body styles and sizes, leverage better video. It could work. Or it could all be just rumors that will never come to fruition. We'll see.
The proto camera.
A handful of cameras, only one of which have EVFs.
And here's where they just went totally off the rails......
Or was it here?
Hanging out at the graffiti wall thinking about cameras....