The Samsung Galaxy NX is the first mirrorless compact system camera to run the Android operating system. Think of it as a Samsung NX camera crossed with a Galaxy S3 phone and you’d be pretty close to the concept and the reality.
The Galaxy NX features a 20 Megapixel APS-C sensor with a hybrid AF system and can take any existing NX-mount lenses with the usual 1.5x field reduction. The camera also features a built-in electronic viewfinder with SVGA (800×600) resolution, but it’ll be hard to bypass the enormous 1280×720 pixel / 4.8in touch-screen on the rear even if it’s 0.2in smaller and lower resolution than the latest Galaxy S4 handset. Running Android 4.2 Jellybean, you’ll be able to install the same vast array of apps enjoyed by smartphone owners, including those for social media and online backup, not to mention image manipulation. In terms of connectivity there’s built-in cellular radios for 3G and 4G LTE, along with Wifi; I’m waiting to hear about GPS.
All this makes the Galaxy NX one of the best-featured ‘connected-cameras’ around, and while the concept is similar to last year’s Galaxy Camera with its built-in super-zoom range, the new model is the first Android camera to sport a big APS-C sensor and an interchangeable lens mount.
It’s an exciting concept, but for me the question is whether having it all-in-one is better than simply transferring images from your preferred camera to your existing smartphone and doing the sharing from there. After all, I can’t think of any occasion when I would have my camera, but not my phone with me, and like many photographers, I’ll almost certainly have an existing camera and lens system I’d prefer to use. It should also be noted that the huge screen in addition to an EVF makes the Galaxy NX a fairly large camera – put it this way, there’s smaller mirrorless cameras with Wifi available which will talk to your smartphone, and don’t forget many of them also let you use your phone as a remote control.
Of course copying images between devices takes time, not to mention a conscious effort, but companies like Panasonic and Samsung are making it easier with Near Field Communications (NFC) to set up the connection with a prolonged tap and are offering apps which can pull data from the camera automatically. Which approach would you prefer? Let me know on my social channels and look out for a review in the future!
PS – no pricing or availability is known as yet.