New Cameras Galore: Complete PMA 2009 Coverage

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Samsung's NX Hybrid Cameras Shrouded in Mystery (Deliberately?)

One of the major announcements at PMA thus far, Samsung's new NX series of cameras is billed as a "hybrid" between a digital SLR and a point-and-shoot, much like Panasonic's just-announced Lumix GH1.

But other than a vague official press release sent out Monday, explaining that the just-announced NX series will have the same high-quality, larger-sized APS-C sensor found in DSLR cameras, not much information was provided about the new NX cameras. Like the Micro 4/3 System cameras offered by Panasonic, it would also eliminate the mirror box found inside traditional DSLR cameras, making for a slightly more compact frame.

Other than that, there was a lot left to speculation -- and follow-up e-mails -- regarding the NX series cameras. For example, the question of whether the NX line would also support interchangeable lenses, like the Micro 4/3 System Panasonic Lumix G1 and Lumix GH1, and whether it would be able to shoot video.

Samsung confirmed that the NX series will indeed offer interchangeable lenses, but many details remain unexplained about the lenses themselves. Namely, whether they will be standard 4/3 DSLR lenses, Micro 4/3 System lenses, or yet another proprietary standard developed by Samsung.

Release dates are a mystery, too: the first model in the NX series is slated for the second half of this year, but there's nothing more specific than that.

But here comes the good stuff -- if the vague, icon-based monitor demo at the Samsung booth was any indication. A visit to the Samsung booth resulted in no further comment about the NX line from Samsung officials, but watching some of the TV monitors that hyped the new NX series implied that the NX cameras will have features that the press release didn't mention at all: HDMI-out (which suggests that, yes, the NX series will shoot HD video), Wi-Fi connectivity (the icons on the monitor screen showed the camera connecting to a laptop, but not individual sharing services), and interaction with DNLA-compliant home-entertainment gear.

As for the Samsung NX cameras themselves, the ones on display looked smaller--but not that much smaller--than compact DSLRs such as the Nikon D70. The prototype models (displayed behind glass, so I didn't get any hands-on time) looked about the same size as the Panasonic Lumix G1 and GH1: still a bit chunky, but definitely a bit slimmer than a compact DSLR. Oh, and there are color options, too: black, red, and a slate gray.

Pricing? Who knows. Availability? Sometime late this year. Will the first-generation NX camera offer Wi-Fi, HD video, and DNLA compliance? No official word. But judging from the amount of showgoers huddled around Samsung's NX display case, the Apple-like mystery PR surrounding the new cameras was effective.

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