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Performance

Overall Performance

The Samsung NX200 is a well specified camera, with ergonomics and operational speed to match. Autofocus performance is good if not class-leading and the response to button and dial input is usually as good as instant. However, while the camera's seven frames per second rate in continuous shooting mode is excellent considering the size of the 20MP files, those files do have a detrimental effect on write times. This is especially true when shooting in raw mode, where the waiting time for the files to process and the buffer to clear can become almost prohibitive.

Buffering times also have a negative impact on your user experience when you are shooting raw in single drive mode. Depending on the speed of the memory card you are using you will be able to take 3 or 4 shots in a row but after the first shot the camera is basically blocking any other user input for a few seconds until the buffer has cleared. If you're used to taking a lot of shots in very fast succession and change your settings inbetween you'll occasionally find yourself cursing the camera when it is responding with a 'Processing' message on the screen to your press of a button.

The Samsung NX series does not offer an in-body stabilization system but the 18-55mm kit lens, the 50-200mm tele lens and the excellent 60mm Macro all offer an efficient image stabilization system. Samsung's pancake lenses don't but these lenses tend to be much faster than the zooms which makes OIS much less of a necessity.

Continuous Shooting and Buffering

The NX200 offers two continuous shooting modes, 'Low' and 'High'. In continuous 'Low' mode the nominal frame rate is 3fps, in 'High' mode this increases to 7fps. The latter is a fairly respectable number for this class of camera, but the camera's buffer appears to be slightly overwhelmed by the large files captured by the 20MP sensor.

This is particularly obvious when shooting in raw mode. When shooting Large/Fine JPEGs you can shoot 11 frames in one burst and then have to wait for approximately 8 seconds for the camera to write the files onto the memory card. During that time you can neither keep shooting nor change any settings. If you switch to raw mode the number of frames decreases to 8 but the waiting time increases to a very lengthy 34 seconds. Switching from JPEG Fine to Superfine only makes a marginal difference. Considering these times were measured on one of the currently fastest SD cards available - a SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-I - we would not recommend using any older cards with the NX200 if you're planning on frequently using the continuous shooting feature.

In the slower 3fps 'Low' mode waiting times are shorter but still fairly substantial. Also, when shooting raw the 3 fps can only be maintained for one second. After that the camera captures another three frames at about half that speed before dropping down to an extremely slow 0.2 fps. Given the very real potential for missed frames thanks to the extended write times, we would recommend staying away from raw mode when shooting continuous frames with the NX200.

Continuous High

Timing
JPEG Large/Fine
RAW
RAW+JPEG Fine
Frame rate 7.0 fps 7.0 fps 7.0 fps
Number of frames 11 8 8
Buffer full rate - - -
Write complete 8 sec 34 sec 35 sec

Continuous Low

Timing
JPEG Large/Fine
RAW
RAW+JPEG Fine
Frame rate 3.0 fps 3.0 fps 3.0 fps
Number of frames 16 3 3
Buffer full rate 1.8 fps 0.2 fps 0.2 fps
Write complete 7 sec 25 sec 28 sec

All timings performed using a 64GB SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-I SDHC card (90MB/s)

Another disadvantage of continuous shooting mode on the NX200 is that the camera cannot maintain a live view feed at either 3 or 7 fps. On the screen you see a sequence of still frames in real time after they've been captured and while they're being buffered. What this means is that at any given moment, you don't see the view through the camera's lens right now, but how it was a fraction of a second ago. This makes little or no difference if you're shooting slow-moving or static subjects, but it makes panning with fast-moving subjects very hard indeed, since you never know where they are - only where they were.

Burst mode

The NX200 can capture full-resolution 20MP files at 7fps but for those wanting or needing more speed the camera also offers a 30, 15 or 10 fps 'Burst' mode amongst its drive mode options. In this mode the NX200 uses an electronic shutter and limits the image size to 5 megapixels and the file type to JPEG only.

The image image quality suffers in this mode with some visible artifacts but if you can live with that, the small image sizes and the lack of raw processing capability you've got all of the PASM modes available, along with ISO and other shooting parameters, which makes this mode genuinely useful for the capturing of fast action. If you set the sensitivity high enough (it's capped at ISO 3200 in this mode) you can get shutter speeds fast enough to freeze fast action, even in relatively dimly lit conditions, and capture a series of 10, 15 or 30 shots. The example below shows 15 frames of a tennis shot which were taken indoors at 30fps.

Frame 1
Frame 2
Frame 3
Frame 4
Frame 5
Frame 6
Frame 7
Frame 8
Frame 9
Frame 10
Frame 11
Frame 12
Frame 13
Frame 14
Frame 15

Autofocus speed / accuracy

The NX200 sports a, compared to previous Samsung NX models, slightly overhauled focusing system which has been further fine-tuned with the latest firmware update. In practice the difference to older models such as the NX100 or NX10 is subtle but noticeable and the NX200 is one of the faster focusing mirrorless cameras that we've used so far. Samsung has designed all its NX lenses to focus quickly with contrast detection autofocus and in good light the focus is very quick and essentially on the same level as entry-level DSLRs.

In low light, especially with longer lenses, such as the 50-200mm OIS, like with most contrast detect systems, there is occasionally some focus hunting, but the NX200 is usually impressively consistent in finding a focus-lock, even at very low light levels. That said, in terms of both focus speed and low light consistency the NX200 is not quite up on the same level as the Panasonic GX1 which is currently the AF benchmark in this bracket of the market.

The only disadvantage of using a contrast detection AF system appears when you switch to continuous AF mode. Unlike phase detection systems, contrast-detect AF cannot tell whether a moving subject has got closer or further away from the sensor, so it has to do another scan through various focus distances to establish where the object has gone. While this is not unique to the NX200, it means that continuous AF is not quite on the same level in terms of either speed or accuracy as a conventional DSLR system.

Battery life

The size of NX200's battery has been slightly decreased compared to the predecessor NX100, which also results in a decreased capacity (1030mAh vs 1300mAh) and battery life. Samsung states the battery life should be good for approximately 320 photos and approximately 110 minutes of shooting video. In practice the battery life is approximately in line with Samsung's figures which means you've usually got enough juice for a day out but for extended shooting sessions you should carry an extra battery.

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