Samsung NX Series Cameras Have Compact Bodies, DSLR Hearts

Samsung's forays into high-performance photography gear have so far been cautious (read: derivative), but the NX series, set for an unveiling at PMA this week, is half-DSLR, half-P&S, and very interesting.

Samsung NX Series Cameras Have Compact Bodies, DSLR Hearts

Samsung NX Series Cameras Have Compact Bodies, DSLR Hearts

Samsung NX Series Cameras Have Compact Bodies, DSLR Hearts

Samsung NX Series Cameras Have Compact Bodies, DSLR Hearts

The announcement is short on details, but here's the pitch: the NX series is a hybrid system, meaning that it doesn't have a mirror box or a physical through-the-lens viewfinder, but retains a DSLR-sized APS-C imaging sensor and interchangeable lens capability. In other words, it's conceptually similar to Micro Four Thirds cameras such as the Panasonic Lumix DMC G1, though it doesn't share their mounts.

What makes the NX particularly interesting, though, is its build—it's pretty thin. Our biggest issue with the DMC G1 was its bulk, as it was only slightly more compact than some of the smaller entry-level DSLRs like the Nikon D40, despite its shorter flange-back and lack of a pentaprism. Samsung seems to have stolen and embraced the spirit (though unfortunately, not the lenses) of Micro Four Thirds, making this truly slim for a camera of its abilities. As for those lenses, it remains to be seen if Samsung will use the Pentax mount, as they have historically, or if they've got a new standard in mind.

The release is set for the second half of '09, and specs will probably be fleshed out at PMA, which starts tomorrow. You can read the full, teasing release below:

SEOUL, KOREA – March 2, 2009 – Samsung Digital Imaging Co., Ltd. used PMA 2009 as the global launching pad for the NX Series, the company's revolutionary new family of hybrid digital cameras. A new concept digital camera, the NX Series offers the performance and image quality of a DSLR and the portability and convenience of a compact point-and-shoot. With the NX Series, Samsung will become a global leader in the new hybrid market.

Samsung's new NX Series bridges the gap between a DSLR and compact point-and-shoot digital camera by combining the benefits of both in one new model. Like conventional DSLRs, the NX Series utilizes an APS‑C sized image sensor providing a much larger surface area to gather light and produce higher-quality images than comparable digital camera systems. Unlike a DSLR, the NX Series does not feature a mirror box and employs an ultra-precise Electronic Viewfinder (EVF). The use of an EVF has allowed Samsung engineers to significantly reduce the size and weight of the new camera system by decreasing the distance between the lens and image sensor (flange back) by approximately 60% compared to traditional DSLRs. In addition to utilizing the EVF, consumers can also take advantage of the camera's Live View functionality to frame their shots on the NX Series' high‑resolution screen.

Samsung has recently intensified its focus on the digital imaging market and established a separate company dedicated exclusively to digital imaging in Samsung Digital Imaging Company. The new company was formed to focus on the development of its digital still cameras around world's first and best in class features, design, and easy-to-use interfaces, and will work towards achieving the company's stated goal of becoming the world's leading digital imaging company.

"We estimate that the hybrid digital camera market will be over 20% of the global digital still camera market by 2012," said Sang-jin Park, CEO of Samsung Digital Imaging Company. "With the release of the NX Series, a digital camera that combines the strengths of a DSLR and compact digital camera, Samsung Digital Imaging will become a global leader in the new hybrid digital camera market and achieve the company's goal to become the global leader in the digital camera market by 2012."

Samsung Digital Imaging Company also creates a much more efficient vertical alignment between related Samsung affiliate business units including semiconductor, LCD panel and consumer electronics. This new vertical alignment will create competitive advantages for Samsung by fostering greater collaboration between Samsung affiliate business units and allowing the company to develop and deliver highly-innovative digital imaging products that set the standard for the industry, including the newly unveiled NX Series.

The first model of NX Series will be available in the second-half of 2009.