Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

Samsung Targets Photo-Thusiasts With Android-Based Galaxy NX Camera

Last year, Samsung introduced its $500 Wi-Fi-connected Galaxy Camera and, more recently, a Galaxy smartphone with an optical zoom lens. Now get ready for the Korean electronics maker’s next step in the digital camera market.

As was rumored, Samsung today officially announced plans for a new, mirrorless, Android-based camera in its NX line — marrying Wi-Fi and high-speed data connectivity with interchangeable lens options.

Still not sure what that all means? Here’s a basic explainer: Simple point-and-shoots have built-in optical zoom lenses. More advanced cameras have detachable lenses that can be swapped out, depending on a photog’s needs. This camera falls into the latter camp.

And Samsung is wagering that, in addition to shelling out for lens kits, customers will want to pay for a monthly data plan to immediately share the pro-level photos they’re snapping.

Not only does the Galaxy NX work with the 13 interchangeable lenses in Samsung’s high-performance, compact NX line — including a 2-D/3-D lens option — it has a large, 20.3-megapixel APS-C sensor for improved image quality, 31 “smart” modes and a 1.6 GHz quad-core processor. It also has a giant 4,300-milliamp battery.

The back of the Galaxy NX camera, next to Samsung’s Galaxy S III smartphone

Unlike Samsung’s original smart camera, which was running on Google Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, the connected NX is running on the latest operating system, 4.2 Jelly Bean, and can utilize specialized photography apps. This includes one that automatically creates story albums that can be purchased and shipped, and the same “eraser” feature that the S4 smartphone has.

The back of the NX camera, like the Galaxy Camera, is buttonless, using instead a 4.8-inch capacitive LCD touchscreen that looks, well, a lot like a smartphone.

If this camera has got you all hot and bothered, time for the cold shower: Samsung, which held an event in London to show off upcoming products, didn’t reveal a U.S. release date or price point — although, it’s likely this device will cost more than the first Samsung Galaxy camera.

The company also hasn’t said which wireless carriers it’s in talks with for the product. At a product pre-briefing, Samsung said it would be eyeing photo-specialty and consumer-electronics stores as retail partners, not necessarily carrier stores. (The Galaxy camera is currently available through AT&T and Verizon Wireless.)

The fact that Samsung is targeting photo-specialty stores underscores the NX’s place in the market: It isn’t really meant for average point-and-shoot consumers, nor would it really replace the smartphone. (That’s where the Galaxy S4 Zoom might come in, which AllThingD’s Bonnie Cha wrote about last week.)

Would Samsung like to see your average consumer — perhaps your mother-in-law comes to mind, or a selfie-snapping twenty-something — purchase a camera like this for regular use? Sure. But I’m betting this will appeal more to enthusiasts and event photographers who are used to spending on lenses, and want to immediately share batches of photos to the cloud.

It’s been a rough ride for camera makers, and they’re packing all kinds of features into compacts to make them more appealing — even the smartphone operating systems they’re competing with. Still, Samsung gets some props for diving in where others, namely Nikon and Polaroid, have only dipped their toes.

Latest Video

View all videos »

Search »

When AllThingsD began, we told readers we were aiming to present a fusion of new-media timeliness and energy with old-media standards for quality and ethics. And we hope you agree that we’ve done that.

— Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, in their farewell D post