Samsung’s planned hybrid digital camera system – Editor’s comment
September 1, 2008
Armed with a couple of pages of questions, some pre-submitted, I intended to use this chance to speak with Samsung Camera vice president, Byung Woo Lee, to extract as much information as I could about the company’s plans for the GX series of DSLRs.
Plans outlined only in February indicated that Samsung aims to be in the top three for DSLR by the end of next year, but with still only two bodies on the market, and a far from complete optical system, I was wondering how these targets were going to be met. Further questions, that I hadn’t sent ahead, were ready to probe the company’s relationships with Pentax and lens manufacturer Tokina.
The reliance of Samsung’s camera division on these two third party producers is quite out of step with the component and technological self-sufficiency of the TV, computing, mobile and audio sectors of the company’s electronics business.
We’ve had hints of optical plans in the past, and the GX20’s Samsung-made CMOS sensor demonstrates clear competence in image recording, so I wanted to know how close Samsung is to going it alone, and the company’s progress on the GX full frame sensor. Expecting limited success, I was amazed that directly after the formalities of our meeting Lee dived straight in with his plans for a hybrid compact-DSLR cross, that won’t become a saleable reality for at least another 18 months.
I suspect such an early presentation of information came on the back of the recently released details of the Micro Four Thirds, as, on the surface at least, the two systems share quite some detail in the concept.
Establishing a public consciousness of their intensions may deflect future copying claims had the hybrid been shown later, and, of course, Samsung wants the world to wait for its APS-C version.
Over the years I have learned not to be surprised by anything I hear at a press briefing or interview, but I have to admit to being more than a little amazed on this occasion. We have been talking to Samsung about design and concepts for a couple of years, and the various engineers we’ve exchanged ideas with have expressed a desire to do something different and to take digital cameras on to a new level.
The majority of DSLRs we use at the moment are simply digital versions of the film SLRs we used a few years ago, and camera manufacturers have not grasped the potential of the digital revolution to create a new concept for digital cameras. I had thought Sony might do this, by bringing a touch of PlayStation to cameras, but essentially the company has carried on producing Minolta Dynax (Maxim/Alpha) cameras.
I’ve been waiting for a top class digital compact for sometime, and have been disappointed on so many occasions. When I heard the news about Olympus and Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds system I wrote in an editorial leader (Amateur Photographer 16 August) ‘I had wished for a small camera with an APS-C sensor and raw/jpeg capture, but I’d settle for a Four Thirds sensor just as easily.’ Perhaps next year we’ll see if my wish will come true ? with an interchangeable lens system.
Click here for AP’s exclusive story on Samsung’s plans