This month I took my second paternity leave and earlier I decided to get a new camera to celebrate the occasion. There were several factors that led to this decision, I wanted something smaller and I wanted a camera that my wife would actually use. She only shoots with her iphone because she doesn't like the size of our DSLR Nikon D3100. She also doesn't like using the viewfinder and has trouble focusing at the right spot. I got my DSLR about 4 years ago before a trip to Europe. At the time we didn't have kids and we just wanted to take better photos of our trips, hikes, and dogs. I also wanted to learn more about photography, so I ended up buying the entry level Nikon. It was a good choice, my sister is a real photographer and she shoots with Nikons so she could help me and even loan me some lenses. Despite my satisfaction with this camera, over the years we have used it less and less. For one, when you travel with a diaper bag and child you really don't want to lug a big camera bag around as well.
So I decided I wanted something smaller that would still take good photos. I also like how newer cameras had WIFI built in, so my wife could post photos to Facebook instantly. She doesn't have the time to download the images and touch them up in Lightroom, then export them. In order to afford a good compact camera that had changeable lenses I would need to sale my Nikon equipment and use those proceeds for the new camera. This added more complexity to my choices as I needed something that would take photos as well as my DSLR. Initially I looked at the Panasonic Lumix and Olympus Pen micro four thirds cameras. These were small, had tons of lenses, built in wifi, and, in the case of the Lumix, decent prices. The problem with these ended being that they were micro four-thirds cameras which is a smaller sensor than the APS-C sensor in my Nikon. This meant these cameras weren't quite up to the quality level of the Nikon, especially in low light situations. If I had the money to get a new camera system without getting rid of my Nikon then I would have purchased the Lumix.
I then started looking for compact mirrorless cameras that had an APS-C sensor so that I didn't step down in quality. This led me to the Sony NEX series. These cameras were much smaller than my DSLR but had the same sized sensor. They also had touchscreens, which meant my wife could use the touch to focus feature. That feature should dramatically improve her photos and make her want to use the better camera over her iphone. The only problem with the Sony NEX cameras was that they were all a little out of my price range. Even so, I headed out to my local Best Buy to play with these cameras to see how they felt. It was during this visit that I discovered Samsung's compact mirrorless cameras.
When I was done playing with the Sony NEX cameras at Best Buy, I started browsing the other cameras and came across the Samsung NX300. This camera looked awesome as it had a cool retro look. It also had built in wifi, touchscreen, changeable lenses and best of all a great price point. So I snapped a few pics into an Evernote entry, including a pic of the product card, and headed home to research.
Reading several reviews started making me excited about this camera. There seemed to be universal praise for this camera, with the only concern being a more limited selection of lenses and a lack of a viewfinder. The missing viewfinder doesn't bother me at all and I am not a pro photographer so I will probably never have more than 3 lenses. The kit lens, a good prime portrait lens, and a long zoom lens. So once I sold the Nikon, I headed to Amazon and purchased the camera with the 18-55 lens. The 18-55 lens was an extra $50 more than the standard 20-50mm lens but it was worth the difference to get the built in stabilizer. I also started researching for a good small and affordable prime lens that would take great family photos. After looking at every NX lens on Amazon under $300 I settled on the 30mm f2.0 Pancake Lens as it had everything I wanted, excellent reviews and a great price.
After spending the last month with this new camera, I can say it has been everything I wanted and more. It has me taking far better pictures than I did with my DSLR, which is most likely because I didn't have a good prime lens. It is much smaller and easier to lug around, and we use the wifi features all the time. Here are some of my favorite photos with the camera so far (some lightroom retouching).
Camera Reviews I read: