Hands On: Samsung NX Mini

May 23rd, 2014 | by Wilson Wong

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Samsung may be well-known for its TVs and smartphones, but its cameras are not as familiar to consumers. That’s one reason why the Korean electronics maker is trying to make a big splash with its consumer-friendly NX Mini unveiled in Singapore this week.

Coming in mint green, pink, white and brown, the camera is unabashedly appealing to the fairer sex. It helps that it weighs just 158g and is an ultra slim 22.5mm, making it the arguably smallest mirrorless camera in the market.

The 1-inch image sensor is capable of capturing 20.5 megapixels. It can shoot at 6 frames per second continuously, making it perfect for those trying to catch their pet dogs in full flight.

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The NX Mini’s flip-up selfie screen. Pair this with a selfie-stick and the setup is the perfect image maker for the selfie addict.

The killer feature, especially for the self-obsessed would be the flip-up 3-inch touch display that allows for quick selfies.

When the screen is flipped up, the camera will automatically be in selfie mode and the timer would be activated when the shutter is pressed or the screen is touched.

With Wi-Fi and near-field communication (NFC), photos can be shared wirelessly via the Group Share app. You can control the camera via a smartphone app.

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The 9-27mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens that comes paired with the camera body has the typical range of a wide- to mid-telephoto range, just enough for general purpose and travel photography.

As for the lens, there are the NX-M 9mm at f3.5 (around 24mm of a full-frame sensor), the NX-M 17mm f1.8 (46mm) and the more versatile NX-M 9-27mm (24-73mm) f3.5-5.6.

Even for hobbyist photographers, these lenses may be good enough as the 9mm is a great walk-around lens for street shooting and the 17mm can perform as a portraiture lens with nice “bokeh” thanks to the f1.8 aperture.

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Skin tones may be subjective but with this selfie of myself, I am pretty surprised by my silky smooth and healthy looking skin!

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Shot this budding flower with the help of a macro add-on lens. Pretty nice effect.

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The colour rendition is so good that even food looks delicious. Obviously the Samsung NX Mini is tweaked for food photography as well. No sharpening was done and this is straight out of the camera.

As the sample shots show, the colour from the Samsung NX Mini is anything but boring. The improvement from the NX series is quite stark with good colour being rendered.

Skin tones are also impressive with a good mix of slight yellow or red to recreate a more healthy skin. However, the tests shots are done in a sunlit environment so further runs in more challenging lighting situation are needed to see how it performs in tougher environments.

The Samsung NX Mini is meant to be used by the “Auto” crowd so dedicated control mechanisms for Aperture and Shutter such as those on DSLRs are absent here.

You have to resort to a little button mashing to navigate the menu, as a result. Perhaps Samsung should consider a button for the Exposure Value compensation in future models.

The Samsung NX mini is out in Singapore now at S$649 with the 9-27mm Kit Lens. A cheaper set at S$549.00 that is coupled with the 9mm prime lens is another alternative.

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The NX Mount Adapter can be affixed to the NX Mini and allows the use of the NX series lens such as the fish-eye lens.

The success of a mirrorless system very much depends on the range of lenses that consumers can get their hands on. At the moment, this is limited. It also appears challenging to find alternative lenses, at least for the foreseeable future.

One solution is to get an adapter that lets you fix up existing Samsung NX lenses from the NX Mini’s bigger siblings. The range, however, is not as extensive as digital SLRs. This may make it hard for new mirrorless adopters to find, say, a macro lens, for specific uses.

For casual snapshots, what you have on smartphones or a good compact camera may be sufficient, thus negating the need for a new mirrorless system like the NX Mini.

The new Samsung shooter, however, does have its plus points. Two can come to mind easily are its consumer-centric feature and great colour output. If you are satisfied with the kit lens that comes with the NX Mini, then it can be a good choice.

However, do note the cost you may incur if you want to get even better image quality that additional lenses can bring.

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