The rumors started in mid-September when Korean website NewsTomato reported that Samsung planned to close its camera division. This was followed by a rebuttal from Samsung amidst fresh rumors from other territories.
We've held back from reporting on this story until we've been able to get official word from Samsung UK, but now it's arrived: "In the UK, we have seen a gradual and sustained decline in demand for standalone digital cameras and camcorders and related accessories. For this reason, we have taken the decision to phase out the sales and marketing of these products."
"We quickly adapt to market needs and demands. In the UK, we have seen a gradual and sustained decline in demand for standalone digital cameras and camcorders and related accessories. For this reason, we have taken the decision to phase out the sales and marketing of these products. This is a local decision, based on local market conditions."
This will be both a surprise and a disappointment to a lot of people. We've held the pro-level Samsung NX1 compact system camera in high regard ever since it was first launched, and when the same sensor appeared in a smaller, cheaper model, the NX500, we had good words to say about that too.
But Samsung's camera division has been pretty quiet of late, and while Samsung insists this is a 'local' decision only, similar reports from other territories including Europe and Australia suggest that the future of the camera division globally is in doubt.
Where now for Samsung fans and mirrorless cameras?
Fans of Samsung's compact cameras needn't be too dismayed since there are plenty of other brands to choose from and cameras like these are one-off purchases anyway. But those who've invested in Samsung's mirrorless NX-series cameras are in a worse position because they've invested in a system rather than a single camera. Samsung seemed to be making steady progress in developing a range of professional-grade lenses to go with it, but this announcement is likely to leave owners wishing they'd invested in a different brand.
Samsung was at the forefront of the mirrorless camera market with the NX1, but this is still an emerging and relatively untested market, commercially. One of the reasons for the continued popularity of traditional DSLR designs is simply that they've been around for a long time and are backed up by extensive lens and accessory systems.
This is bad news for Samsung, but the mirrorless market is nevertheless looking very healthy. Sony's A7-series mirrorless cameras are starting to gain serious traction in the professional market, Panasonic is driving ahead with cutting edge 4K video and still image capture technology and Olympus's jewel-like mirrorless cameras have, paradoxically, reminded many enthusiasts of what they used to love about SLR cameras before they became so big and heavy.
So it's sad that Samsung has pulled out, but it's not necessarily a sign of the times. As far as we're concerned, the camera market as a whole has never looked more diverse or more exciting than it does right now.