Samsung NX200

The NX200 is an interchangeable lens compact that ticks plenty of boxes, but loses points on performance and a lack of options.


7.9
CNET Rating

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About The Author

CNET Editor

Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.


This is Samsung's more compact version of its interchangeable camera line, dubbed NX, sitting alongside the more SLR-shaped NX11. Unlike the earlier NX100, which was inspired by the design of a raindrop sitting on a leaf, the NX200 doesn't wear any aesthetic influences on its sleeve, and it's all the better for it.

Design and features

As a result, the NX200 is a lot easier to hold, as it features a textured and protruding grip that juts out from the side. The body is coated in a sturdy plastic, which is perhaps a little more utilitarian than it should be given the asking price, although the inside chassis is made of magnesium alloy.

It also sports a 3-inch OLED screen at the rear, which, like the versions found on other NX cameras, is a pleasure to use and review photos. The top panel is uncluttered, with just a mode dial, shutter button, hotshoe and control dial present. The back panel continues the unfussy design with a four-way directional dial, exposure compensation, record button and thumb rest. The hotshoe unfortunately does away with the accessory port that the NX100 had, which means that you cannot use an electronic viewfinder — a big disappointment.

The NX200 can use i-Function lenses, which let you adjust shooting settings like ISO, aperture, zoom, white balance and shutter speed by pressing the dedicated button on the lens and rotating the focus ring to change parameters. It's an intuitive way to change exposure information without needing to move too many dials.

Shooting modes include full PASM control from the top dial, along with i-Function shooting; magic mode, which adds a frame or a filter to the picture; panorama; scene; smart auto; and movie modes. Filter effects include vignetting, miniature, fish eye, sketch, defog, halftone dots, soft focus, old film and negative.

Connectivity is provided via HDMI and a proprietary USB-out port.

Compared to

Panasonic GF3 Sony NEX-C3 Olympus Pen Lite E-PL3 Samsung NX200
12.1-megapixel Live MOS (Four Thirds type) 16.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS 12.3-megapixel Live MOS (Four Thirds type) 20.3-megapixel APS-C CMOS
3-inch, 460,000-dot touchscreen 3-inch, flip-down 921,600-dot screen 3-inch, flip-down 460,000-dot screen 3-inch, 610,000-dot AMOLED screen
Pop-up flash Optional flash attachment Optional flash attachment Optional hotshoe flash
Full HD video (1080i, AVCHD) HD video (720p, H.264) Full HD video (1080i, AVCHD) Full HD video (1080p, H.264)
AU$899 AU$849 AU$799 AU$899

Performance

General shooting metrics

  • Time to first shot
  • JPEG shot-to-shot time
  • RAW shot-to-shot time
  • Shutter lag
  • 0.90.91.50.2
    Panasonic Lumix GF3
  • 1.20.91.10.5
    Sony NEX-C3
  • 2.31.21.20.4
    Samsung NX200
  • 30.60.80.2
    Olympus E-PL3

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Continuous shooting speed

  • 7
    Samsung NX200
  • 4.2
    Olympus Pen E-PL3
  • 3.8
    Panasonic Lumix GF3
  • 2.5
    Sony NEX-C3

(Longer bars indicate better performance)

The NX200 can take four consecutive RAW shots before stopping to process them. In continuous mode, shooting full-resolution JPEG images, it can capture seven frames per second up to a maximum of 11 frames when it stops to process them.

The shutter lag of the NX200 is particularly noticeable when shooting in dim situations. Autofocus (with the 20-50mm lens) also struggles when there's not ample light, taking almost a second at times in order to lock onto a target.

Image quality

While the NX200 packs more pixels onto the same surface area as the NX100, image quality doesn't suffer too much as a result. At low ISO levels you still get the same rich, punchy and slightly over-saturated colours when shooting JPEG. It's also worth noting that the 20-50mm lens has quite a few distortions at the wide end (like we noted on the NX100 review), and it also doesn't have image stabilisation, making it almost impossible to take a clear shot in very low light without increasing the ISO level dramatically.

Even if you do this, though, the camera really does struggle in keeping down colour noise at ISO 6400 and above. Without a built-in flash and image stabilisation, this really makes it difficult for photographers who are used to the convenience of pointing, shooting and getting a blur-free shot.

A comparison between the NX200's RAW and JPEG files. The RAW image above was processed using Adobe Lightroom, rather than Samsung's own RAW processing software, which is supplied by the camera. The image above was taken at ISO 100, but even in the 100 per cent crop (inset) there is some visible difference between the level of detail rendered in each image. The NX200's RAW images do have a lot more detail in them, particularly as the ISO level begins to climb and the JPEG processing gets messier.
(Credit: CBSi)

One advantage that the NX200 does have is its video implementation, which is pretty decent indeed: there's full PASM control in movie mode, should you desire, while the continuous autofocus works well in adjusting focus on the fly without too much jitter. The video image could be a little sharper, though, and the stereo microphone does make things sound rather distant, perhaps due to its rather wide placement, and separation quite far back on the top panel.

Image samples

Exposure: 1/60, f/3.5, ISO 200

Exposure: 1/160, f/5.6, ISO 100

Exposure: 1/40, f/5, ISO 3200

Exposure: 1/125, f/5, ISO 200

(Credit: CBSi)

Conclusion

The NX200 is an interchangeable lens compact that ticks plenty of boxes, but loses points on performance and a lack of options. For beginners, we definitely recommend investing in an image-stabilised (OIS) lens from the Samsung range, rather than the 20-50mm lens, and seriously consider whether you need an electronic viewfinder — if so, look elsewhere.



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