GadgetsLab: Samsung NX Mini

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Though most cellphones now have good cameras and though surely the phones of the future will have better ones, there is still something oddly satisfying about using a pure camera for taking pictures. If DSLRs are too complicated and basic point-and-shoots are too unadaptable, perhaps you might want to consider the NX Mini.

Specifications:

Megapixel count: 20.5MP

Sensor: BSI CMOS

ISO range: 160 – 12800

Compatible Lenses: Samsung NX-M Lenses

Continuous Shooting Speed: 6FPS

Physical Dimension: 4.3×2.4×0.9in

Screen Size: 3-inch HVGA 320×480

Weight: 196g with battery

Estimated battery life: 650 shots

Memory used: MicroSD, MicroSDHC, MicroSDXC, UHS-I MicroSD cards

Design: 4/5

The Samsung NX Mini is unbelievably tiny. It is currently the most compact camera in the NX family, measuring a mere 4.3×2.4×0.9 inches and weighing just 196 grams with the battery. The eye-catching faux leather finish encasing the device gives it a very premium and commanding look.

Unlike its older brothers, the NX Mini does not have a grip. One handed operation is still possible but there’s always the fear that the camera will fall from the hand. Granted the camera itself does not get slippery, but if you’re clumsy (like me) make sure to attach the included hand strap onto the conveniently placed eyelet.

You’ll find the usual offerings of a camera on the device: most of the operation buttons are located at the camera’s back, then you have the built-in microphone, the covered external flash port, and the direct link, power, and shutter buttons up top. My only quip with these top buttons is that the direct link button is positioned too close to the power switch so my gorilla fingers often pressed the wrong one.

Looking at the whole camera, the NX Mini is intelligently designed so everything you need to touch and press is easily accessible. It really makes the most out of its limited surface area.

Hardware: 4/5

The NX Mini’s centerpiece is its BSI 20.5 megapixel, 1 inch CMOS Sensor which produces highly-detailed pictures with negligible color variation. This sensor is fronted by lenses attached onto the new mount, meaning you can’t use your current Samsung lenses for this camera. As of writing, there are two available lenses for the NX Mini – the 9-27mm F3.5-3.6 ED OIS zoom lens, and the 9 mm F3.5 ED lens which the unit ships with.

The 3-inch touch screen occupies most of the camera’s back and serves as the viewfinder. It also allows you to pull up the menu and gives direct access to various manual shooting options such as focus mode, shutter speed, aperture, white balance, and ISO. Basically, almost anything you can do with the buttons, you can do with just a touch on the screen. The screen also flips 180 degrees up for  (of course) selfie purposes. When powered down, flicking the display up automatically turns the camera on, going into self-shot mode and giving you three seconds to pose and angle for the perfect vanity shot.

User Experience: 4/5

Back when I was still in college, I frequently switched back and forth between DSLRs and point-and-shoot cameras for some of my television production courses. I loved the flexibility of DSLRs, while I enjoyed the portability and handiness of point-and-shoot cameras. Handling the NX Mini, I knew I was getting the best of both worlds. It’s light, compact, and small enough to fit even in my jeans’ pocket. It feels solid in the hand, and it feels like it can even take a bad fall or two (but you know, don’t let it).

The NX Mini has a very capable full auto mode. It handles well in bright and well-lit situations, taking pictures with accurate and distinct colors. It also has various smart shooting options for specific situations such as macro, landscape, food, action, kids, and sports photography. As with most cameras, however, it struggled with low light situations producing pictures with noticeable noise. That’s where the manual settings come in.

I often toyed around with the manual settings of the DSLRs I was able to get my hands on and that’s what I first did with the NX Mini. Though there are no physical manual controls, settings for the ISO, aperture, and shutter speed were easy to get to and learn. Any shortcomings the camera has in recognizing light imbalances and focus points were overcome by old fashioned manual setting elbow grease.

Value: 3/5

Priced abroad at USD 499, the NX Mini comes ashore to the Philippines at PHP 21,990. This price includes the camera itself, the 9mm F3.5 ED lens, a free hand strap, and a copy of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5. For that price, however, you can already buy an entry-level DSLR. This just goes to show that cramming DSLR capabilities onto a device less than one inch thick makes for one expensive price tag.

What’s Hot:

  • Flip-up HVGA LCD display
  • Powerful and tiny
  • Full HD 1080p video

What’s not:

  • Can buy an entry-level DSLR for the price
  • Lack of sure grip

Bottomline

The NX Mini is one of the best cameras for those looking to transition from full automatic to manual shooting, and those wanting a compact DSLR-esque snapper. Also, yay for well-framed selfies!