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Monday, 02 March 2009

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Wasn't there a G1 in the house?

If there was a followup article, I can't find it... What happened?

A promising step. We don't need no stinkin' mirrors.
bd

PS Where's the Oly micro 4/3?

This looks exciting indeed; although I miss further details on the mount used, and the need for adaptors for standard K lenses (in the case it is using the K mount, as expected).

Yet the thing that gets my attention is: why is this announced by Samsung only? Is Pentax/Hoya excluded from this development? If so, does it mean Pentax will go his own pathway for this kind of camera, or will they stick to standard dSLR in the next years?

These EVF, large-sensor cameras have piqued my interest from the first development announcements, but I keep wondering why these cameras still look like mini SLR's. I like the Olympus concept the best - more of a rangefinder look, if you will.

For me, the concept that is truly appealing is a form-factor similar to modern pocket digicams (scale up as necessary), with a removable lens. Maybe the faux mirror box is just an easy place to stick the EVF, but I'd prefer some form-factor innovation to a "mini SLR," which doesn't really mean anything close to "mini" for me.

Great oppportunity in this market niche! Imagine having as your pocket cam or backup a camera this size with a Nikon D300, Canon 50D or Minolta (sorry, Sony) D700 sensor in it!
Adam

If Samsung is serious about this type of camera, then they need to be serious about lenses. If they are serious about lenses, then they will source them from Pentax. So in a round-about way, this just might be the camera the keeps Pentax in business, even if the K-mount fades away.

This is pretty exciting. Pentax/Hoya/Samsung have produced some great stuff in the past few years - a lot of bang for the buck, and "photographer friendly".

It also indicates that we are getting much closer to the "decisive moment" type cameras many (myself included) have been wanting for some time.

Great idea, but why not a retro-look, metal and leatherette rangefinder instead of another amorphous, black mini-SLR? Yes, I know time marches on, but does style have to leave the house as it does? It will be interesting to see what comes of this concept from other companies.

Video is obviously being considered as a must by Samsung; the concept has the appropriate microphone holes in top and front panels.

Of course the combination aps-c/similar + interchangeable lenses + pocketability is highly desirable. However, personally I find two electronic finders (digicams, G1, this one) as somewhat redundant. I must confess that I have never used an EVF camera, so maybe I'm wrong, but a good articulated lcd plus adequate optical finders for the accessory shoe seems like a much more sensible configuration to me (but, will it sell enough to warrant its production? on the other hand, we can put accesory finders on this design and forget about the evf...of course with a weight/form-factor penalty).

Why are these mirrorless cameras so bulky, and why do they adopt SLR styling even though they don't have a pentaprism?

Either a camera is pocketable or it is not. If it is not, it doesn't really matter whether it is the size of a G1/NX or the size of a Rebel XSi/D40.

Sigma showed it can be done.

The DMD is upon us, all oly and/or pentax have to do is release the rangefinder form factor with a flip lcd (the rangefinder isn't necessary, nor is the evf) and I'm done.

I will be a happy boy.

It will most definitely *not* be a K-mount, as the dimensions are clearly incompatible (with a K-mount, the sensor would probably have to sit some distance outside this camera).

I think people overestimate how close Pentax and Samsung are working. So far Samsung has barely rebranded some Pentax SLRs/lenses and sold them a sensor.

The odd thing actually is that the electronics giant Samsung is releasing a new, small, interchangeable-lens camera, while the "camera company" Pentax is releasing a slightly boring bridge probably OEMed from the same factories as 99% of its competitors.

The current issue of Wired has an interesting article that traces the rise of netbooks to consumers' desire for more portability and less horsepower for computers. Hopefully, the Samsung NX will be the camera equivalent of netbooks.

The article also noted how true innovation always comes from upstarts since established companies rarely want to upend their business models. ...What have you done for me lately, Canikon?

I suspect we may now be seeing the start of the new phase of changing the mechanical film camera into a fully electronic image making instrument.

Some years down the road we should have a fully electronic, EVF and all, DigiCam that does both still and movies equally well. Then photography will truely become a multimedia art form with images viewed...

Electronically.

This is a "full size" APS-C sensor, right?

If so, very interesting.

Oh please oh please let this be a K-mount Kamera (even if we have to use an adaptor to deal with the shorter lens-to-sensor distance). Oh, and while I'm at it, please oh please let it become an actual product some day soon.

Also, I think the SLR-like form factor is in no small part due to the expectation that the buying public is generally conservative in their tastes, and SLRs still indicate quality in a way that rangefinders (for a huge segment of the population) don't.

The three small orifices under the moniker "NX" suggest the presence of a microphone. Maybe this little beast will be able to produce HD video as well. If I recall correctly, that's a promised feature for the new G1 version, isn't it?

Call me a Luddite, Son of Ned, but I just don't fancy taking pictures off a TV screen. If I can't look though a viewfinder, might as well get an iPhone and use that instead.

The teaser for the Pentax version is described here:

http://www.letsgodigital.org/en/21636/pentax-hybrid-camera/

I agree that the Olympus prototype format was more ideal for me. Also, fwiw, Engadget is showing pics of a leaked camera that may be the pentax version of this Samsung.

I just wonder why the EVF on this camera is made like an OVF on an SLR? And if we have such a nice LCD, is an EVF necessary after all? Maybe for the sake of power saving [g]

I would rather have an OVF on this kind of camera, just like the ones on a traditional ranger finder. This category should be made like a ranger finder. In Mike's word, a DMD (Decisive Moment Digicam). That's all I want.

If Mike's points about the size, hold water, and we have no data at this point to suppose they won't, that design has a lot in common with an RF look. The grip does elicit the comparison to SLR cameras just because that's been the design paradigm for so long, but it's a lot more shallow than the G1 for instance. A lot of people buy side grips for Bessas and Leicas just because of the small amount of extra grip they provide. Ditto for the aftermarket grip "accessory" for the G9. Both of those configurations would be comparable in depth to the mock-up.

There is evidence that Samsung knows how to manufacture a decent sensor (K20D) even if the signal processing electronics and expertise were sourced from Pentax.

Finally I think there are advantages to Pentax staying out of this particular horse race. They aren't exactly one of the stronger players in the current market, and they have an existing SLR install base to consider. In addition I'm assuming that Samsung is giving them some consideration for using the mount. The mechanical specifications might be in the public domain like the F-mount, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were things having to do with auto focus and electronic control that Pentax is supplying to Samsung. So presumably that gives them some kind of revenue stream without being subject to the the higher risk of releasing a new product in this economy. Beyond that, anything that can use K-mount lenses (even if it requires an adapter) leverages their their lens catalog too.

Pentax too? http://www.engadget.com/2009/03/01/pentax-bridge-digital-camera-image-leaked-ahead-of-pma/.

I'd like one of these with a leica M mount please, if for no other reason than you can adapt about anything to the M mount.

I'm disappointed that there is no flip out LCD, and I could do without the fake pentaprism bump.

Unfortunately, I don't see any sign of Pentax involvement here. For example,
the hotshoe on the camera isn't a Pentax one — apparently it's an old Samsung design.

Some statements from Pentax/Hoya last year indicated that Pentax wasn't committed to using Samsung sensors in future cameras, and I think this is the other side of that "break-up":
Samsung going off entirely on their own.

HEY! SAMSUNG! or whoever is listening:
-Take out the hump;
-Throw in a coupled rangefinder
-Make the screen swivel.
Then I'll buy two (second one for my wife).
Thanks,
Dan

As a rangefinder shooter I must agree with bobdales.
Mike, would you mind telling my generation limited brain the equivalent English word for grok?

Okay, time to disseminate some spurious rumours and half-serious information...

Pentax said they were open the idea of joining the micro 4/3 just before Photokina. Here at PhotographyBLOG. According to the article, Pentax was not happy with Samsung.

Olympus MFT will, according to rumours, come in June. It all started from a Russian site. In case you don't have Cyrillic installed, it basically says:

"1. There will be TWO (!) cameras, not only one. One is M-1, will have a weather-sealed body, 3.2-inch display, HD-video record (720p, 1080i, 1080p) and will be come on the market with the lens 12-45/2.4-3.5 (filter diameter 62mm, weight 410gr)

2. The second is M-100, which we all have seen as a mock-up will obviously have no weather sealing and have the kit lens 14-70/3.5-5.6

3. There will also be a new tele-lens 45-150/2.8-4 (filter diameter 62mm and weight 550gr)"

Furthermore, there were kinda confirming rumours from Thailand. A guy from an Olympus distributor said there would be 3 DSLRs and two MFTs this year. It was before E-620 was announced, so there might be at least a grain of truth in his words.

Panasonic HD-video MFT is supposed to appear around this time - the spring - too.

Samsung will have some competition when it appears. And this one looks like it will have video. Note the mic holes on the left side. And I wonder what's that arrow in the lower right corner on the back. If it's stabilisation, it could have an advantage. If it appears...

Dustin: by look like mini-SLRs, you mean that they're bricks with EVFs on top and lenses on the front? That's not really going to change, unless you go for a non-EVF, large-sensor camera...

You can't chimp with an optical view finder. The ability to not have the LCD on has been more interesting than I would have thought.

Sad, but I am more excited about this NX than Pentax's X70 (although I think it's a good move for Pentax). However:

Samsung/Pentax's answering gun...

Alas Mike, there is no mention of either Pentax or K-mount in the Samsung press release:

http://www.dpreview.com/news/0903/09030201samsungnxsystem.asp

And there will be a physical mock-up on display at the PMA, so they've gone past the initial CAD phase and have actually produced some hardware. I'm sure Olympus/Panasonic's announcement of the µ4/3 last year lit the proverbial fire under Samsung's arse.

Am I allowed to say "arse" on the internet...?

Pundits have been predicting a 4/3 funeral for years.

There's plenty of life left.

Figuring the size of a hot shoe as a standard, I overlaid the Samsung photo onto a Panasonic G1, and the Samsung, despite its larger chip, appears to be both less wide and less deep. And not by a hair either. These cameras and the Oly 620 could mark a welcome trend.

"Mike, would you mind telling my generation limited brain the equivalent English word for grok?"

johnbrewton,
It means "to drink" in Martian, of course.

More generally, do you use Google as a dictionary? Just type the word you want into the search box, then click "definition" in the line below. Works a charm.

Mike

It's sad to see us moving back into the era of long focus delays (caused by using contrast-based autofocus driven by sensor data). To me that ruin any hope for these as a journalistic / DMD camera.

I've never used an EVF camera (with eyepiece delivering LCD output), but I'm generally happy with shooting off the LCD only (my last two P&S cameras haven't had any optical viewfinder), and I find LiveView quite useful.

It used to be, I could take the relatively small camera (an FM, say, instead of the N90) and a couple of fast prime lenses, and fast film, and wander around getting just as good pictures as I got with the N90, except maybe when speed of focusing was key. Now, unfortunately, any time I think about a smaller camera for that mode, it turns out that low light is precisely what it does least well, which kills off my interest remarkably quickly.

„A little better sensor than that in the G1”.
I beg to differ; the G1/E30/E620 sensor is one of the best 4/3 sensors, just like the D70(s)/D40 was for APS-C and now, the Canon 450D sensor.
Yep, I'm not thrilled by the 50D sensor.

One thing to note: the antialiasing filter plays a big role, and in some of the cameras it's the thing that sparkles (or, to be more precise, takes away all the spark). Recent memory, and a thing that goes by largely ignored even by reputable sites like TOP: D700 has the same sensor as D3, but the AA filter is a (much) coarser/cheaper one.
And yes, the AA filter is a necessary evil, but as the processing power grows, so does the real need for it; just observe the medium format.

Dump the hump and copy the Olympus Pen FT form factor with EVF since Olympus won't.

I like the looks of this one. There are just as many ergonomic reasons as mechanical for the SLR like "look."

I wonder if people will buy it?

Re: movie mode
Never mind the "microphone holes" there is a movie camera symbol at 10 o'clock on the mode knob.

Interesting to see all of these cries to "dump the [SLR-like] hump."

Maybe I'm missing something, but looking at the rear view you show of the Samsung, it seems that the designer of a camera like this has four options:

1. Remove the hump and go with no built-in eyelevel finder at all, ala Sigma DP1

2. Remove the hump and use a smaller rear LCD so the eyelevel finder fits above it, below the shoulders

3. Raise shoulders on both sides of hump (up to top of hump level) to square off camera top, resulting in larger camera

4. Go with SLR hump

I vote for #4.

Seems that this crowd is looking for a FF sensor in a camera body the size of the Leica M camera. That or a Contax G series sized FF sensor camera with articulating LCD and optical rangefinder is my dream camera.

The G1's EVF is said to be the best yet and I found it pretty dismal. I can justify shooting from the LCD because sometimes it helps you get the shot, but squinting at a shrunken, jumpy TV screen (and focussing on a disorienting 10X blowup) does not. It just ruins the fun. Can they make something out of glass, either in the body or as an add-on? Do these manufacturers understand the market they're building these things for?

And instead of an LCD that goes every which way but the most useful, how about a simple flip-up design so the screen is on the lens axis and we can use these cameras waist-level style. How's that for retro?

(rant, grumble) One other thing: is there something wrong with 'chimping', because I do it religiously.

Sorry, my bad. Looks like the leaked Pentax is just a tiny-sensored bridge camera. (Unless they've got another one up their sleeve; fingers crossed).

If they keep the hot shoe you are always free to use accessory finders if that's your wish.

The other thing about the hump, which it clearly looks like Samsung has taken advantage of, is that you can put the pop-up flash there and gain a little height away from the lens axis. Frankly, no one is going to make a new digital camera these days with no built in flash, not even the DP1.

Am I the only one here with visions of this body with versions of the Pentax "pancake" lenses attached?

While I'm not in the "dump the hump" camp, I do feel that the "SLR Look" should be abandoned. There is no mechanical reason that the hump needs to be aligned with the lens. I'd prefer to see the eyepiece, and associated hump, pushed more toward the end of the body so it fits the face and hand more like the Leica M series.

Otherwise, I really like the idea of the "micro" configuration. As a reasonably long time user of a Nikon cp8400 (eyelevel EVF, rotating rear LCD, ...) I find the idea of that configuration with the added bonus of interchangeable lenses and a larger sensor very appealing.

mikeinmagog wrote Do these manufacturers understand the market they're building these things for?

Yes, I think they do. And I don't think the average TOP commenter falls anywhere inside it.

Let's face it, when it comes to camera design, we're the outliers in terms of market.

Following Greg's approach using the hot shoes to keep the sizes close to the same I took some shots of my LX3 over laid on the Samsung NX. They are here

An interesting camera, a shame it's ugly as sin. Come on Olympus, move the trend away from the prism style viewfinder and give us right eyed shooters something to make Leica quake in their boots...

...and if Olympus choose to brand their micro four thirds camera Trip 4/3, add some floating frame lines and include a 40mm f2, then Leica have every reason to be scared.

Don't people think before they throw away the eye-level EVF? Do you seriously think you're going to hold a 200-300 35mm equivalant lens still enough on a camera this size while wobblng it at arms length like a P&S compact? Remember the sensor & lenses (esp telephotos) for the samsung are not going be that much smaller than than current APS and bigger than 4/3 examples.
A century of design evolution confirms that an eye-level VF means you can securely brace the camera and lense up at your face. Cant do that with a LCD only design!

From what we can see it looks pretty nice, at least they're not short-changing it in the department of the right buttons on the outside, or a decently sized screen

Thus, the new Samsung will almost certainly not be a K-mount camera, and its lenses will not be usable on K-mount cameras, in the same way that Micro 4/3 lenses cannot be used on regular 4/3 cameras.

True.

K-mount lenses will not be usable on it except (perhaps; we don't know yet) with an adapter.

Hm. I don't know enough about K-mount but maybe we should take a look at the situation with 4/3 and MFT. You can use some of the regular 4/3 lenses on G1 with full capabilities. Yes, you need an adapter, but you will have both automatic aperture and auto focus. Could you do that with Pentax lenses as the basis of Samsung's system?

But if Samsung and Pentax really parted ways all of that really amounts to less than speculation.

OTOH, it is funny what you can find on the Internets. Like this Samsung DSLR, GX-1S. And there's also GX-1L. I had no idea they did DSLRs prior to their versions of K10D and K20D. I suppose it's their version of *ist.

What is more important is the lenses they paired it with. Six Schneider Kreuznach lenses and two "Samsung" lenses. I knew S-K did lenses for Samsung compacts but if I knew they did SLR lenses for them, I forgot.

So now we have a(nother) suspect to go with Samsung's "micro" camera business. But we still don't know what the mount (or the basis of the mount) will be.

No, you are not, Steve. If pancake Pentax would be released, specific for this mount, many of us would be saving already. But I'm certainly not interested in using an adapter, as it would take all the interest of the camera away (just like happens with the adaptors for Oly lenses in Micro4/3).

After seeing this EVIL camera [as in Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeble Lens], some questions were cast on my mind.

Notably, and ultimately, it seems that the actual and factual innovation around photography does not come from the usual suspects, but Olympus [after the E300 and E330, which I rather liked even as concepts and aesthetically, I have to admit], and to some extent, Fuji and Sigma.

It seems that we are seeing the collision of two different bussines models, ultimately. The one based on differential improvements on the usual habits of an action [here, photography]. This is the model where we could placed Pentax, Nikon, Leica, Hasselblad, Phase One, Mamiya, Canon, Olympus, Fuji, Cosina, RED cameras, and so on. [to be completely fair, the RED cameras are nothing but the goo´ld medium format systems of a black box plus accesories, updated in a "Battlestar Galactica -the ´80s version- way].

The other model is the one about searching and researching for the so called NBT [Next Best Thing], which seems to me to be the model applied by the consumer giants to get into higher market segments within photography [where there is not that much heritage to start with]. Hence the movements Samsung and Panasonic seem to be doing.

The first approach looks safe, but ultimately has the risk of making a brand defunct. The second approach looks more risky, and it is more expensive, but once it strikes, it leavs the competition trailing behind with some very serious catch up to do the following years.

Add.: yes, I know that in photography Pentax had some very crazy prototypes runing around, such as that camera with interchangeable lens-sensor assembly, where each lens was supposed to be paired with the sensor size and characteristics which made the better combination. That could be a way to do so, to leap forward. The other could be the complete elimination of the viewfinder which, to be honest, looks more and more as something not really necessary: a good screen [and there are quite some, but not applied in the photo industry] could be the next way as well. Or variable ISO in the very same frame, an idea I do not know why has not been yet implemented [and I don´t care about the so called technical difficulties. As Ctein so well put, sensors have sprinted in quality for the last five years].

Cheers.

Dear Erlik
The Schneider-Kreuznach lenses from Samsung are just rebranded Pentax lenses, the same as the Samsung lenses.

Schneider-Kreuznach has not built a lens for photography [or at least for 35mm photography] for quite a while now, just like Zeiss doesn´t -but Cosina does under Zeiss name-. What they do is LICENSE their name for lenses they approved to be put their name on.

Alas, the whole SLR lenses from Samsung system are rebranded Pentax lenses, manufactured in Japan and assemblied in several different parts of the world.

My Viewty camera phone has an autofocus lens branded as Scheinder-Kreuznach. What it does say in the leaflet inside the phone box is that it is a Schneider-Kreuznach APPROVED-CERTIFIED lens, not manufactured by them [as happens with the Carl Zeiss lenses of the Nokia and Sony-Ericsson camera phones].

Actually the ZM lenses of the most extreme specification, the 85mm/2 and the 15mm/2.8 are reportedly manufactured by Zeiss in Germany ostensibly because the quality control at Cosina wasn't up to snuff for these two designs. They are also priced to match. Still, your point stands; my pedantic rambling notwithstanding.

My only point being that they do still apparently possess the tooling and capability to manufacture lenses of this specification (35mm format) on a small scale, it's just not so practical to do so.

Sony, if you're listening: CL Digital :-)

It'd be a shame if Pentax isn't involved. Given the physics of "reduce flange depth by 60%, reduce lens size or increase maximum aperture by 60%", I'd love to see what Pentax's engineers did with the DA Limited line. Imagine lenses the same size but with faster maximum apertures. Perfect.

"Seems that this crowd is looking for a FF sensor in a camera body the size of the Leica M camera. That or a Contax G series sized FF sensor camera with articulating LCD and optical rangefinder is my dream camera."

Why is the FF SLV (single lens view) camera necessary? It has no legacy lenses (except for maybe Leica-M) to use. Current APS-C/FT sensor size has already surpassed 35mm film. The lenses/camera can be smaller.

So we are back at square one. Or better to say I am back...

Ah, it still means Samsung is no closer to actually having a lens designer/manufacturer. :-)

"Ah, it still means Samsung is no closer to actually having a lens designer/manufacturer. :-)"

You can never say. Koreans are here to stay and with a mission, and boy-oh-boy, they are efficient in getting everywhere [and have the patience to do so]. For instance: Polar lenses.

PS: Sorry if my previous post could got pedanthic. Never was that my intention.

And about the lenses and so on. I´m getting more and more conviced that the importance of the lens has decreased, and is going to decrease more and more. I do believe [with no actual facts, it is just an intuition on the fly] that currently the lens is responsible for at the very most 15-20% of the quality of the final output of an image [taking the whole workflow into account].

Dave Kee: Yikes, that really IS tiny! Boy would it look amusing with something like my 17-55/2.8 mounted on it!!!

Dwig: I'd suggest that the big design concern should be to separate the flash from the lens, i.e. doing what you can to eliminate red-eye.

Wolfie: it's much easier to brace an LCD design steadily than one that requires pushing a viewfinder up to your eye. You use the strap, a bit the way you use a rifle sling. Hold the camera by the two ends, and push away from you until the strap tightens. Be sure your elbows are held in to your belly. You've now got a very very stable position, anchored to your whole body and NOT just your head (which is much more mobile than the rest of the body). I'd done decades of low-light SLR and rangefinder photography and was pretty good at it before I got my first digital, and I found I could hand-hold the digital a LOT slower, several stops, using that technique than I could ever manage with an SLR up to my face.

I absolutely agree that lots of people wave P&Ss around in very unstable ways, but don't blame the LCD! It's just, they don't need to (for flash), or they don't care.

DD-B,
I'm with you there...I'm the type who's always looking around for extemporized camera support--I can't tell you how many times I've made shots with the camera set on furniture, windowsills, mantlepieces, outdoor trash cans, park benches, on and on. An articulated LCD viewing screen is a big help in situations like that, because you don't have to either guess your framing or try to wiggle your way into a position in which you can look through the VF.

I would even go so far as to say I always found the in-front-of-your-face camera position to be a little awkward and faintly embarrassing. Witness all the Leica photogs who have mastered the art of the "brief glimpse" through the finder, with the camera held to their eyes for just a split second. According to legend, Cartier-Bresson would hide his camera behind a handkerchief and was so quick looking and shooting that people standing right in front of him often didn't realize he had taken a picture.

Mike

I have the Samsung GS-1X some have mentioned above, so I'd love an adapter to use my K mount lenses on the NX series. Lack of K mount wouldn't be a deal breaker of this kit comes out at a lower price point than the G1.

Now wouldn't it be interesting if the made the form factor of this look more like the Canon G10 with interchangeable lenses, rather than a smallish SLR.

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