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Samsung NX mini: Attractive price for a slim and lightweight mirrorless camera

Published on Jun 20, 2014 5:00 AM
 

This is the smallest and lightest interchangeable lens camera in the world, Samsung says. The NX mini mirrorless camera is only 22.5mm thick and weighs 158g (without battery and memory card).

The NX-M 9-27mm f/3.5-f/5.6 kit lens does not retract into the body, so the NX mini is not as pocketable. Still, it can easily be stuffed into a handbag.

Costing only $649 (with kit lens), the NX mini is about $400 cheaper than the recently launched Sony RX100 III. But, it lacks a built-in electronic viewfinder.

Sleek and clean, with smooth straight lines, the mini has a faux leather band over the front and sides. The lens and top are in brushed metal, boosting the cool factor.

Only a Wi-Fi button, power button and shutter release sit on top. A 3-inch touchscreen display dominates most of the back, with four directional buttons at the right.

A Menu and a Mode button sit on top of the directional buttons, and a dedicated video-recording button is placed near the tiny thumb rest.

There is no Mode dial, but hitting the Mode button will bring up the modes menu on the touchscreen. Tap on the mode you want. This works quite intuitively.

Though it is small and light, the camera feels sturdy when you hold it. But being so small and lacking a front grip, it can be uncomfortable to hold for a long time. I had to tuck my ring finger and pinky under the camera in order to stabilise the grip.

The NX mini's display can be tilted 180 degrees, facilitating selfies. This camera starts up automatically when you flip the display 180 degrees. Press the shutter release when the camera is in this position and it automatically triggers a 3sec timer - enough time to pose the selfie or wefie.

Then you can use the Tag & Go feature to send photos to a Near Field Communication (NFC)-enabled Android smartphone.

Download the Samsung Smart Camera app and tap your NFC- enabled Android smartphone on the bottom right corner of the camera's front at the NFC logo, and both devices will pair automatically.

To send a picture from camera to smartphone, tap the smartphone again while previewing that picture.

You can also control the NX mini with the paired smartphone, and select and transfer multiple images to the paired smartphone. All these features work seamlessly with a Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

The camera is quite fast, starting up in 1.5sec and shutting down almost immediately. Most mirrorless cameras take about 2sec to do this. The NX mini has an amazingly fast shutter speed of 1/16,000sec, which lets you freeze almost any action.

Autofocusing (AF) is almost instantaneous in bright sunlight, even with tap screen AF. In dim conditions, it may take up to 2sec to focus with the aid of AF assist light. But at times, it simply gives up.

Using a microSD card with a writing speed rated at 30MB per second, the NX mini shot five RAW images in 0.7sec before the buffer ran out.

Image quality is great at ISO 400 or slower speeds. Colours are vibrant with crisp details. But images are not as sharp as results from a mirrorless camera with an APS-C image sensor, such as the Fujifilm X-T1. Slight purple fringing and a blued auto white balance are its other flaws.

At ISO 800, sharpness declines but there are still plenty of details. Even at ISO 1,600, the details still hold but noise artefacts are visible. It is only at ISO 3,200 that details are lost and colour specks become evident. Still, such shots are good for Web use or small prints. But I would not recommend using ISO 6,400 or above.

Videos are sharp, with minimal wind and ambient audio. You can hardly hear the lens' AF. But it may take up to 2sec to lock onto a focus when you pan to a new scene.

Battery life is rated at 650 still images on a full charge when used with a 9mm NX-M pancake lens. With the review unit and a 9-27mm kit lens, it was around 520. Still, the battery is longer lasting than most of its rivals', which average about 300 still images on a full charge.

  • Other than its slim profile and light weight, Samsung NX mini's greatest strength is its attractive pricing. For this price, it produces good still and moving images with easy sharing features.

trevtan@sph.com.sg

This article was first published in The Straits Times Digital Life on June 18, 2014.


TECH SPECS

Price: $649 (with 9-27mm kit lens)

Image sensor: 20.5 megapixels 1-inch CMOS

Display: Tiltable 3-inch touchscreen LCD with 460,800 dots

Sensitivity: ISO 100 to 25,600

Shooting speed: Up to 6 frames per second

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Near Field Communication

Weight: 158g (body without battery and memory card)


RATING

Features: 4/5

Design: 4/5

Performance: 3/5

Value for money: 4/5

Battery life: 5/5

Overall: 4/5

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