Wednesday, August 12, 2015

OMG the NX mini

As a street photographer, never in my life, I could imagine that a selfie camera grows to my heart as quickly as easily. And here it is, the Samsung NX mini, the ultimate selfie camera, and I am a fan boy by now!
To be honest, I bought the camera (with the 9-27mm kit lens) when it was at sale, just for the Lightroom 5 licence which came with it. Actually, I was prepare to sell the camera for cheap and keep the LR5 licence. It turned out that I kept the licence and the ultimate selfie camera.

Why am I calling this camera "the ultimate selfie camera"?
Well, there are 2 obvious reasons:

  1. it powers up when the display is flipped up to 180 degrees
  2. it comes with 2 lenses covering 9mm (equivalent to 24mm on 135 film)
There are more indicators for the camera being the ultimate selfie camera:
  • very small form-factor
  • various selfie trigger modes using gesture detection
  • "stylish" colors
  • the 9mm pancake prime lens does not even allow for a lens cap
You that you have seen me writing 9mm twice, you might ask yourself, that the deal with that focal length is. On a 1" sensor, that would be equivalent to a wide angle of 24mm on 135 film, which is a pretty wide angle perspective. When taking selfies that means that with the your arm extended, you still get something of your surroundings in the shot.
It also means that camera shake does not really blur up your shot as much with slower shutter speeds.

Another factor, besides the lenses, would be the color the camera is available in. I choose mine to be brown. Actually, I do not like the color at all... however, the color is dim and makes me look like a hipster type tourist... When I pull up the camera, people just ignore me. What more can you ask for?!

The small form factor speaks for itself, I figure.

The immediate purchase to fit the kit to my needs was the 9mm pancake prime! And this lens did not disappoint! The NX mini with the 9mm prime installed is thin enough to fit into my Jeans' pockets effortlessly. Not having to care about a lens cap, or extending the lens (like one needs to do with the 9-27mm zoom) the camera is ready for shooting in a few seconds. And again, with such a device, no matter how close you are, nobody takes you seriously as a photographer (unless you act strangely, of course), still the image quality of the 1" sensor is good enough to publish... in particular since the camera is able to write RAW-files.

The image stabilized zoom I have not used much... here and there... it is small enough to fit in any pocket, so I had it with me a lot. Again, it did not see a lot of action.

The latest purchase, I could not resist, was the 17mm image stabilized f/1.8 "normal lens" (about 50mm in 135 terms). A hard purchase it was, I can tell! First I ordered it locally, after a month, the seller reimbursed my money. I tried Samsung locally... item unavailable... I tried Samsung globally... no luck. Finally, I found a seller in the UK who had a single specimen... which I bought.
BTW, the process of locating this particular lens took about 4 months. The costs for the lens were about the cost for the camera w/ the kit zoom lens.
Yesterday, the precious 17mm f/1.8 arrived.
First tests showed that the lens was not only worth the wait but also the money! When shot wide open, the bokeh is adorable! Image stabilization does a great job shooting handheld with the shutter open for 1 second (technique: exhale first, press shutter, inhale when the shutter is closed).

Some features I do not like about the NX mini:
  • no battery charger provided
  • charges via USB only
  • microUSB
  • expensive lenses having plastic bayonets
  • no PC-sync or hot shoe connectors
  • no remote shutter release
  • WiFi controls limited
Some stuff I really like:
  • touch shutter release
  • full manual mode
  • manual focus difficult to change (*)
  • flip-up screen from 0 to 180 degrees
  • leaf shutters in lenses
  • auto ISO in manual mode
Why is any of this relevant?
  1. When you waiting for a shot in front a of setup, the lens way open, you want to take the shot with just pointing the finger on the point of focus.
  2. You might want to be in total control of your depth of field and the motion blur.
  3. Once focused, you want to be able to rely of the hyper-focal distance set.
  4. Looking down rather than towards your subject might conceal your intentions.
  5. Leaf shutters a fast, don't create much shake or noise.
  6. When DoF and motions blur dictate the shot, amplification (ISO) should take care of the correct exposure.
Up to now, the Samsung NX mini was the camera I expected the least from... however, the camera delivered beyond my wildest expectations, in particular with the 17mm lens.

OMG, why is the NX mini 17mm soooo hard to get?!
Samsung, what is going on? Could be best product of the year.... but only if costumers can buy the product w/o tremendous efforts.

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