Operation and Controls
The NX200's user interface is an evolution of the NX100's, so existing Samsung users should feel quite at home. The most significant changes are the addition of a direct movie record button, and a revised on-screen interface for the control of secondary parameters. Samsung calls this the 'Smart Panel'. It is activated by pressing the 'Fn' button on the back plate and gives you access to a number of frequently modified shooting parameters, such as white balance, image quality or metering mode.
Exposure compensation, drive mode, ISO and AF-mode all got their own dedicated hard button. Once you press any of these buttons you're taken to a settings screen where parameters can be changed by turning either the top dial or the rear dial around the four-way controller.
Top of camera controls
The NX200's top plate plays host to the main power switch, which surrounds the shutter button, plus the main exposure mode dial and a small, vertically-embedded control dial. The latter is used to change the shutter speed/aperture, change exposure compensation, navigate the menus and screen, and for magnification purposes in playback.
Rear of camera controls
The back of the camera is peppered with buttons, and also plays host to a combined rear-dial / 4-way controller. The movie record button is well-placed for easy operation by your right thumb, and means you no longer have to set the main exposure mode dial to the movie position before you can start recording. But it does mean that there's no longer any way to lock the exposure in auto modes.
Fortunately with the NX200 Samsung has removed one of the disappointing oddities of the NX interface from previous cameras - the under-utilization of the top control dial in some shooting modes. On previous NX cameras (and the TL500/EX1) the top dial always controlled shutter speed and the rear dial always controlled aperture. This provided admirable consistency if you switched to-and-from Manual mode but left the top dial totally unused in aperture-priority mode.
In the NX200 the top dial now controls aperture in A-mode, shutter speed in S-mode and Program Shift in P-mode. In Manual mode the top dial controls shutter speed and the aperture is modified using the rear dial. Aperture, shutter speed and exposure compensation can also be controlled via Samsung's iFunction (with lenses that offers this option). Ideally we'd like to be able to customize control dial behaviour, but the NX200's setup is at leat more sensible (in our opinion) than that of its predecessors.
The NX200 gets a new function menu that Samsung has dubbed Smart Panel. It's an interactive settings screen that can be navigated around using the four-way controller. Each setting can then be changed either by scrolling the top dial or, if you want to see what options are available for that parameter, by pressing 'OK,' which takes you off to a dedicated screen for that setting.
|The Smart Panel shows all the camera's key settings. Scroll the top dial to change settings...||...or press 'OK' to see a dedicated page showing more of the options for the setting you're trying to change.|
It's not an entirely original solution to the problem (it's not radically different to the 'Super Control Panel' option on the Olympus PEN series), but it is quick, simple and easy to navigate. The NX200 screen is not touch-sensitive which means, although the Smart Panel looks a little bit as if it had been designed for touch-control, you'll have to make do with the buttons and dials to change any settings.
The NX200 also features the second-generation of Samsung's clever iFn control system that allows you to re-purpose the focus ring on most lenses to behave as an additional control dial. The system allows you control aperture, shutter speed, exposure compensation, ISO and white balance by pressing the iFn-button on the lens and then turning the focus ring to change the parameter. The function is customizable and you can select which and how many parameters are controlled by iFn.