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Samsung NX200 Review

February 2012 | By Lars Rehm, Richard Butler, Andy Westlake


Review based on a production Samsung NX200 with firmware 1.02

The Samsung NX200 is the company's fifth NX camera but only the third body design, and represents a significant step up for the series. It's built around a completely new 20.3MP APS-C CMOS sensor and wrapped in the series' first all-metal body. The result is a handsome camera of similar size to Sony's NEX models but one that takes a rather different approach.

Rather than offering a super-simplified interface for users upgrading from point-and-shoots, then a very different approach for more experienced photographers wanting to use the PASM modes, Samsung's NX200 has a single, consistent interface across all modes. The company appears to believe that a well-designed interface can be approachable to beginners without limiting the potential for more experienced users. To this end, it has refreshed its user interface, adding a simple interactive control screen that it calls 'Smart Panel,' which offers clear and quick access to all the key shooting settings.

Then there's the exterior styling, which the company describes as 'Retro Modern.' To us it looks like a more advanced take on the design of the company's NV100HD compact: classy, under-stated and distinct. It's a great improvement on the slightly unlovable NX100, which looked less like it had been styled and more like the NX10's internals had been dipped in molten plastic. Instead the NX200 has a sleek black metal body with a soft-feel paint coating to the grip that give a real impression of quality.

Underneath it all, the NX200 becomes the first in the series to step away from the 14.6MP sensor that can trace its history back to the chip used in the Pentax K20D/Samsung GX20. The latest sensor uses completely new architecture that includes integrated analogue-to-digital conversion (an approach Sony has used for some time now) that is intended to reduce noise.

In addition to the new silicon, Samsung has also re-worked the key elements that go in front of it - a redesigned color filter array to offer greater sensitivity and revised microlenses with smaller gaps between them to boost light capture, placed closer to the sensor so that they can better deal with the light reaching the edge of the sensor at very oblique angles from wide-angle lenses. The NX200 also features a lighter optical low-pass (anti-aliasing) filter and advanced moiré-suppression processing.

On the video side of things, the NX200 gains 1080p30 video capability and increased control over exposure in movie mode, when compared with the NX100. The NX200 hasn't just gained direct access to movie shooting, it's gained M and S exposure modes when in the dedicated movie mode.

So on paper the NX200 is clear improvement over its predecessor and slots nicely into the enthusiast bracket within the mirrorless system camera segment of the digital camera market. We've put the NX200 though our usual in-depth dpreview testing, so keep reading to find out how the numbers and specifications translate into real-life performance.

Samsung NX200 specification highlights

  • 20.3MP APS-C CMOS sensor
  • ISO 100-12800
  • 1080p30 HD video
  • 7 fps continuous shooting
  • Clip-on external flash supplied
  • 641k dot VGA-equivalent 3" OLED screen

Compared to the Samsung NX100

 

Samsung NX200

Samsung NX100
Sensor 20.3MP APS-C CMOS • 14.6MP APS-C CMOS
Body construction • Magnesium Alloy/Plastic • Plastic
Maximum shooting rate • 7fps (up to 11 JPEG) • 3fps (up to 10 JPEG)
ISO Range • 100-12,800 • 100-6400
Accessory connector • No • Yes
Image processing 10 Smart Filters + 13 Magic Frames • 7 Smart Filters
Video • 1080p30 720p30
Video exposure modes • P,A,S,M • P,A
Battery life (CIPA standard) • 320 shots • 420 shots

Compared to the Sony-NEX-5N

The Samsung isn't quite as supermodel skinny as the NEX-5N but, overall, these two APS-C format cameras aren't too dissimilar in size.
The NEX is slightly smaller than the NX in every dimension, though, and so is its 18-55mm kit zoom lens compared to the Samsung 18-55mm OIS. The NX200 does offer a standard hotshoe, however, which the NEX doesn't. The NEX, in return, can accommodate an electronic viewfinder though, which the Samsung can't.
The NX uses its additional size to offer a more conventional control layout. The screen is also larger (they're both 3.0 inches diagonally, but the NX200's has an aspect ratio of 4:3 whereas the NEX-5N's is 16:9).

NX System lenses

Along with the NX200, Samsung has also been quietly expanding the NX system with a number of new lenses, resulting in one of the more comprehensive ranges amongst mirrorless systems. The shot above shows the NX200 surrounded with four new lenses Samsung had scheduled for release in 2011. From left to right:

  • NX 60mm F2.8 Macro ED OIS SSA. This image-stabilized lens is capable of 1:1 macro, and uses an ultrasonic-type 'Super Sonic Actuator' autofocus motor, allowing full-time manual focus.
  • NX 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 ED OIS. This superzoom also includes optical image stabilization, and has a switch to lock the zoom at 18mm for carrying.
  • NX 85mm F1.4 ED SSA. A rather chunky, fast short telephoto 'portrait' lens, that currently has no direct equivalent in other mirrorless systems. This also uses an SSA autofocus motor, allowing full-time manual focus, and includes a distance scale.
  • NX 16mm F2.4. This usefully-fast, wideangle pancake prime is just marginally larger than the popular 30mm F2.

In addition to the lenses above, Samsung had also promised a 16-80mm F3.5-4.5 OIS zoom. However, as far as we can tell, neither that lens nor the 85mm F1.4 have so far hit the shelves at the retailers. Nevertheless all the lenses, whether currently available or not, include 'iFn' buttons. For the 16mm F2.4 and 18-200mm F3.5-6.3, this allows the manual focus ring to be used to change a range of other functions, just like on Samsung's previous lenses. However because the manual focus rings of the 60mm F2.8 macro and 85mm F1.4 are mechanically coupled to the focus groups, these lenses both include dedicated slimline iFunction rings placed close to the camera body.


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

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This article is Copyright 2012 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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