Review: Samsung NX-200








Samsung’s NX200 is the electronic ‘giant’s’ latest flagship mirrorless camera; and one which they hope will be taken seriously as a photographic tool for beginners in order to compete against the likes of well-established brands such as: Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax, Sony, and Nikon (all of whom have many more years experience as camera manufacturers). The NX200 has a 1.5x APS-C-sized sensor. The only other mirrorless cameras to feature sensors that big are Sony’s NEX range. Panasonic and Olympus both have a 2x crop sensor and Nikon opted for an even smaller 2.7 crop. At 20.3MP, the NX200 also has the 2nd highest megapixel count for a mirrorless camera. Only Sony’s range-topper (NEX7) has more (with 24MP). At the moment, Samsung’s sensor is in fact one of highest resolution cameras on the market; regularly out-resolving many pro-level DSLR’s. On paper then: Samsung’s 2nd generation flagship mirrorless camera looks good.

First Impressions
The Samsung’s body is well built; consisting mostly of a metal construction, with solid and smooth controls. It has a very modern geometric shape which is surprisingly comfortable to hold but because the edges of the body are quite sharp, it can sometimes put uncomfortable pressure on the user’s hand (though I didn’t find it to be a major concern). The control layout is very intuitive, with well placed buttons and dials. Unfortunately, I was sad to see that the build quality of the lenses doesn’t quite match up to that of the body. I’ll talk more about the lenses later…

Due to the fact that Samsung are an electronics giant who manufacture everything from high definition TV’s, to cellphones, they are not strangers to making graphic user interfaces. The NX200 is no exception to that. Simply put: it has the most attractive graphics in a user interface that I’ve yet seen in a camera and it is also easy enough to use. The menu system looks more like that of a smart phone than a camera. Beginners should grasp it quickly.

Unlike many mirrorless cameras which I have recently tested, the NX200 has a hotshoe mount for the connecting of speedlight flashes. The downside of this is that there is no built in/pop-up flash in the body (although a flash unit does come standard when you purchase the camera with kit lens, so it will not have to be purchased separately).

In Use
Setting up the camera is easy enough to do with its easy-to-read menu system. This means that getting up and running doesn’t take much time at all. Autofocus is fast and accurate and can be switched off for precision work in manual focus mode.

One of the few problems that I had with the camera had to do with flash syncing. Even though it has a hotshoe mount, it only recognises original Samsung flashes. If any other flash or wireless trigger is connected, it does not read it; and therefore does not activate the hotshoe mount, making it very difficult to use an off-camera flash. Strangely, it did recognise Elinchrome’s Skyport triggers, but it did not recpgnise anything else that we tried.

The kit lens is quite sharp. It is not quite tack sharp, but is better than I expected (though only when shooting in JPEG). The processing applied to the JPEGs must be quite high as shooting in RAW has an alarming amount of chromatic aberration; the most I’ve ever seen in a modern digital camera. I wouldn’t suggest shooting in RAW unless you are prepared to spend a substantial amount of time post-processing in order to get the most out of the images. Speaking of the lenses; and as mentioned earlier, I was somewhat let down by their build quality. They are not bad by any means, but they do not match up to the solid feel of the body. The Samsung’s lenses are not comparable to their competition. For example: the build of Sony’s NEX range of lenses is more solid; with smoother zoom- and focus-rings.

High ISO noise quality on the NX200 is decent. It is not quite great, but is better than that of other cameras of its type which I have recently tested. I get the feeling that – had Samsung used a lower resolution sensor instead of the massive 20.3 megapixel count sensor – the camera might have been better equipped to create images that would be better at higher ISO’s.

I was impressed more than what I initially thought that I would be by the NX200. Considering Samsung’s short track history of advanced cameras – though they still have some way to go in some areas – it is plain to see that Samsung want to be taken seriously in the mirrorless market. Local support by dealers is not yet of the requirement needed by users who wish to expand on accessories. Third party lenses, flashes, and other various accessories are neither available, nor do many dedicated camera dealers stock original accessories such as spare batteries; making it difficult to grow on the system. However, Samsung already have several lenses available such as: standard lenses, a fast aperture wide prime, and a macro lens. This means that a few options are available for prospective buyers. The resolution is needlessly high; sacrificing high ISO image quality which is an area in which most camera brands should be and are advancing. It would perhaps have been better if Samsung had kept the accessory port below the hotshoe mount – used for connecting the optional electronic viewfinder – that was available on the NX200’s predecessor (the NX100), but Samsung omitted that from their latest model. It is good to see that Samsung opted for an APS-C-sized sensor when other brands are choosing to go for smaller sized sensors. The NX200 is a good option for users who want to become more advanced in their photography, without becoming as specialised as what a DSLR system would allow for. [o]