Let's face it, the iPhone turned the digital photography world upside down. For a while, it looked the the entire digital photo business was going to just vanish away into the fog. Canon, Nikon, Kodak all saw the consumer photo business on the edge of a cliff. Then, the DSLR revolution came along all of sudden families with small children were carrying big lenses and huge camera bodies around Disney parks.
Now, photography is at a crossroads... and out of the blue it may be that the winner isn't either Apple or the big DSLR camera makes at all. It might be Samsung.
Okay, I know that seems hard to fathom at first. But I've just spent the past two weeks with a Samsung NX300 and I may have seen the future of digital photography.
First of all, let's get the apple comparison out of the way. Here's a picture I shot of Mayor Mike Bloomberg at the Media 2020 event in NY last week. On the left is my iPhone, on the right, the Samsung NX300. You can see which one feels like a real picture.
The Samsung NX300 (at $799.99 list with 18-55mm lens) is a mirrorless camera with 20-megapixel APS-C image sensor. The image quality is extraordinary, but the WiFi support puts it over the top. It including body, lens and a bundled copy of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4. The NX300 has a new leather-like finish and a retro silver top plate, which helps it retain the NX210's sturdy, reassuring build quality.
It feels great in your hand, is well-balanced, and has a remarkable digital zoom and the ability to adjust depth of field. It presents a simple defocus/sharpen scale on the screen, which is controlled easily by turning the focus ring or by adjusting the slider on the screen. This makes it easy for users to shorten the depth of field and capture more artistic-looking shots. There's a easy to use touch-sensitive screen, and the screen is an AMOLED panel, so it's bright and easy to see in bright sunlight. The on-screen menu is clear, responsive and easy to understand.
So, simply put -- it feels like a DSLR -- but it's light and easy to keep in your bag, and makes pictures that are crisp and bright. But when you go to the connectivity skills, that's where it really kicks in. The Wi-Fi subsystem has more features than other cameras, with regular sharing with Facebook and even video sharing with YouTube. This is a digital camera that feels like a connected device. It can connect to an existing WiFi network, with a browser-based log-in that makes connecting with public networks a breeze.
The Camera is fast -- Samsung claims that you can switch on the NX300 and shoot a perfectly focused shot within 0.08 seconds -- and while I don't know what .08 seconds feels like, i never missed a shot. Also the battery tends to last forever. It holds a charge like a champ.
I know for a while it looked the phones might be the new cameras. But now, with the advent this Samsung camera, I see the emergence of quality cameras with internet connectivity signaling the re-emergence of cameras as cameras. And that is a very good thing.
Follow Steve Rosenbaum on Twitter: www.twitter.com/waaywire