At a press conference held last week in Tel Aviv, Samsung Imaging unveiled its 2011 line for the Israeli market. After the formal talk was over the MegaPixel team had a chance for some exclusive talk with Samsung Regional product manager discussing Samsung's views on the photography market and some of its future plans.
Last week we sat down for a talk with Sungrok Kim – Samsung's regional product manager for Digital Imaging (Middle East & North Africa). We have questioned Mr. Kim on a range of topics starting from the current status of the mirorless market to Samsung's plans for medium format cameras.
Samsung NX11 – part of a long term plan for mirorless cameras from Samsung
Q: How does Samsung see the 2011 mirorless camera market?
A: As you know there are two major players in the DSLR market – Canon and Nikon. Both of them are still looking to use their success in that market before they will turn into the compact system camera market (i.e. mirorless camera market). As for Sony – I do not believe that they are very profitable in the DSLR segment. This year we have seen Olympus, Panasonic, Sony and more recently Pentax release new models of compact system cameras. Next year we might see Canon and Nikon enter the market as well as the demand for compact system cameras grows. For Samsung as a leading electronics manufacturer the new compact system camera market is an opportunity for us to expend our business.
Q: Did the earthquake in Japan had an any influence on Samsung's camera business – both in terms of sales and chain of supply?
A: Regarding sales in Japan – to be honest we do not care much – the Japanese market is a very close market (governed mostly by Japanese manufacturers. I.G.). As for our supply chain – Samsung proud itself for manufacturing almost all of the components for its digital cameras and equipment . Even if there are parts we purchase from other manufacturers we have alternatives so our supply chain did not suffer in any way from the events.
Q: A few weeks ago an image appeared on Samsung's website depicting what appears to be a camera with a large square sensor. What can you tell us about that?
A: I'm not sure we are going to do a medium format cameras because this is different to our current line-up. Samsung is a manufacturer that focuses on a broad market – we are not a niche manufacturer like Hasselbald or Lieca. What you see in the image was developed for internal purposes in order to look into future technologies. At this point we have no plans to release it to the public.
Prototype cameras from Samsung (Credit: Samsung)
Q: Did you consider joining the Micro 4/3 group at any point?
A: No. We use a APS-C size sensor which gives us an advantage over the smaller micro 4/3 sensor.
Q: Samsung has been very open about its lens lineup and has already announced it will launch the new 85mm f/1.4 lens this year what else is planed?
A: When it comes to lenses, as you mentioned, Samsung will announce this year the new 85mm f/1.4, a 60mm f/2.8 macro lens, 18-200mm lens and 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5. We are also working on an adaptor for Pentax lenses although it currently does not support autofocus.
Q: If you look at both Canon and Nikon current lineup you see that they have over 50 lenses each – how many lenses do you think Samsung needs for a solid lineup?
A: This is a good question. It really depends on who is your target audience. Compact system cameras are not professional cameras like those manufactured by Canon/Nikon which require a full line of professional lenses to go with them. We are currently working to release 4-5 new lenses each year – in about 2 years time we shall have about 15 different lenses ready for our users.
Mr. DS Choi – Samsung Israel CEO (Credit: Ofir Iluz)
Q: What about semi professional cameras (more or less on the level of the Canon 60D and the Nikon D7000)?
A: Samsung currently has two lines of compact system cameras – the conventional NX10/NX11 and the more stylish NX100 (which will have a new version soon). Samsung is currently developing a new generation of APS-C CMOS sensors with higher resolution for its future line of compact system cameras. We defiantly have plans to expend both the exiting lines and create new ones.
Q: Samsung is currently manufacturing both compact system still cameras and dedicated video cameras – do you think that in a few years we will only have one type of camera for both tasks?
A: This is a sensitive question. If you look at compact system cameras today, they already have very good video quality. They actually have several advantages over most dedicated video cameras – they can change the lens and have bigger sensors. On the other hand the sensor in compact system cameras is designed for stills with emphasis on colors and dynamic range. Video camera sensors on the other hand are designed to capture fast movement. However I do think that you are correct and there will eventually be only one type of product.
30mm lens by Samsung (Credit: Iddo Genuth)
Q: Moving to ultra-zoom cameras – Samsung currently has a 26X zoom camera in its lineup (the WB5500/HZ50W) both Canon, Fujifilm and Olympus has 30X zoom or more – how far do you think these numbers can grow without dramatically effecting the size of the camera or image quality?
A: Actually, this question should be referred to Sanyo. They are currently the leader in developing super zoom technology and many companies are either using or trying to acquire license for using their technology. As for the question itself, I believe that next year we shall see cameras reaching about 40X zoom.
Samsung SH100 camera – the future is wireless
Q: We have asked this during all of our interviews with all the major manufacturers during Photokina 2010 – what do you think about adding 3G to cameras – especially to the large sensor ones?
A: [Kim takes his Samsung SH100 from the table and demonstrate for us how he use it to send an image through his cell phone over 3G to facebook]. One of the nice things the SH100 can do is communicate directly with a cell phone over WIFI without any existing wireless network around (as an access point). Regarding the idea of integrating a 3G module into the camera – I do not see any real problem with that.
Q: The SH100 can backup images into the computer but it needs a direct link to do that (both of camera and computer needs to be in the same physical location). Will you allow backup over the internet in the future – letting people backup their images from anywhere in the world to their home system?
A: This is an interesting idea and we shall defiantly consider it.
You can find the full list of translated videos and Interviews including ones with Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Zeiss, Leica and many more (constantly updated) – on our special MegaPixel English page.
This is an English version of an article originally published on the Israeli Photography website MegaPixel.co.il