Samsung may be storming the smartphone market with the Galaxy S8, while its KS9500 range of TVs are our pick of 4K televisions at the moment, but it looks like it’s the end of the road for Samsung’s camera range.
There’s been speculation for the last year or so that Samsung had wound up its camera division; we haven’t seen anything new from the brand since the NX500 appeared at the start of 2015, while Samsung opted to pull out of the UK market in November 2015 due to a fall in demand, and discontinued its flagship NX 1 mirrorless camera across Europe soon after.
Despite all this, Samsung wouldn’t confirm that it was winding down its camera operation – but now it appears that it’s finally called time on the business.
A report on the South Korean business website The Investor quotes an anonymous Samsung official as saying “we no longer produce and sell digital cameras, but we will create a new camera product category to continue the business”.
Where did it all go wrong?
Ironically, the failure of Samsung’s camera operation is due in part to the success of its phone business. The rise of smartphones with highly capable cameras has decimated the low-end compact camera market – a market in which Samsung enjoyed considerable success.
The brand didn’t fare quite as well when it ventured into the mirrorless market in 2010 with the NX10. It was the first in a series of solid but unremarkable models which failed to attract those looking to buy into a camera system, despite Samsung offering a decent lens range.
Perhaps Samsung had already burnt its bridges after launching a few re-badged Pentax DSLRs between 2006 and 2008 which disappeared into obscurity.
That said, Samsung was pretty innovative. It bought out the Galaxy Camera, which featured a 4.8-inch touchscreen and used the Android OS, in 2012, while a year later it launched the Galaxy NX – the first mirrorless camera to have Android OS.
And at the end of 2014 it looked like Samsung had finally understood what photographers were after when it launched the brilliant NX 1.
With its excellent 28MP APS-C sensor, fast hybrid AF system and 15fps burst rate the NX 1 certainly impressed, and perhaps if the Samsung branding had been replaced with a Canon or Nikon badge it would have been more successful – but less than a year after launch it disappeared from the shelves.
There have been rumors that Nikon has acquired Samsung’s NX camera technology, which would potentially allow Nikon to launch a series of high-end mirrorless cameras, but both companies have denied this, and there doesn’t appear to be any evidence that a deal’s been done.
So while it looks like we’ll see something rise from the ashes of Samsung’s camera division, it appears we’ve seen the last of its NX cameras.