The compact system camera has been around long enough now that we're starting to see more and more from each manufacturer. At first they were seen as something to take on the mighty DSLR, and while that's still true, there's also a growing number of smaller compact system cameras which find their competition more readily within the compact arena.
One of the first manufacturers to launch a CSC, Samsung has a reasonable heritage in this market now. It doesn't seem to have found a huge number of fans within either the consumer base or critic base though, but it has been one of the most experimental brands out there.
So it doesn't come as a huge surprise that the company has launched a second mount to add to its line-up, to create the ultra small Samsung NX Mini.
Unlike other Samsung compact system cameras, which use large APS-C sized sensors – the same size as found in most beginner and enthusiast level DSLRS – the NX Mini features a one-inch sensor, the same size as found in the Nikon 1 range of CSCs, and interestingly the same size as found in the Sony RX100 II – a compact camera with a fixed lens.
The sensor features 20.5 million pixels, and is a backside illuminated CMOS device. To join the new sensor, Samsung has had to create a new mount, and therefore a new range of lenses. So far, there are just three such optics available to buy – a kit zoom lens, with a focal range of 9-27mm (one inch sensors have a crop factor of 2.7x so that's roughly 24-72mm in 35mm terms), a 9mm f/3.5 pancake lens and a 17mm f/1.8 lens.
Presumably, more lenses will become available should the NX Mini system prove popular, or there's demand for extra optics. It's quite possible that this is the type of camera which will mainly be used with the supplied lens, though. A mount adapter for anybody with standard Samsung NX lenses is also available to purchase separately.
You can take manual control of the NX Mini, and it can also shoot in raw format. There's also a decent complement of fully automatic modes too, as well as semi-automatic modes, such as aperture priority.
Despite the camera's small size, Samsung has found room for a tilting, three-inch screen – it rotates through 180 degrees, making it particularly useful for taking self-portraits, but also helpful for some other awkward angles such as when shooting from a low angle. It doesn't tilt downwards, so you won't be able to use it for overhead shots. The screen is touch sensitive, as we've come to pretty much expect from Samsung compact system cameras.
As you might expect of something so small, there's no inbuilt viewfinder, but, somewhat surprisingly, there is an accessories port, through which you can add such things as a viewfinder or an external flash.
Another common trait of Samsung devices is Wi-Fi connectivity. In fact, Samsung's entire range of cameras now feature this. Here in the NX Mini, you'll also find NFC. Both of which allow you to grab pictures from the camera for quick sharing online, or to remotely control the camera from the free Samsung photo app – happily Samsung doesn't discriminate against Apple users and a version is available for iOS as well as Android.
To keep the size down even further, the NX Mini uses micro SD cards, rather than the much larger SD cards.
At the time of its launch, Samsung claimed the NX Mini to be the slimmest and lightest compact system camera in the world, weighing in at just 158g (body only), and measuring a tiny 22.5mm. It goes head to head with other small compact system cameras, probably most notably the Panasonic GM1, which, with its Four Thirds sensor, beats it in terms of sensor size. It also goes against the Nikon 1 range, the smallest of which being the S1. As it shares the same sensor type, the Sony RX100 II also seems like a likely competitor.