Samsung NX200 Review

 
Camera Reviews > Samsung Cameras i Review
Basic Specifications
Full model name: Samsung NX200
Resolution: 20.30 Megapixels
Sensor size: APS-C
Kit Lens: 3.06x zoom
18-55mm
(27-84mm eq.)
Viewfinder: OLED
ISO: 100-12800
Shutter: 30-1/4000
Max Aperture: 3.5
Dimensions: 4.6 x 2.5 x 1.4 in.
(117 x 63 x 36 mm)
Weight: 18.5 oz (525 g)
includes batteries, kit lens
MSRP: $900
Availability: 09/2011
Manufacturer: Samsung
20.30
Megapixels
Samsung NX APS-C
size sensor
image of Samsung NX200
Front side of Samsung NX200 digital camera Back side of Samsung NX200 digital camera Top side of Samsung NX200 digital camera Left side of Samsung NX200 digital camera Right side of Samsung NX200 digital camera

NX200 Review Summary: Taking a more serious approach to the compact system camera, the Samsung NX200 raises resolution to 20.3-megapixels, adds Full HD video recording, and improved autofocus speed. Most of the new lenses feature a unique i-Function button that the company says allows the user to make adjustments more easily.

Pros: Sleek, more professional camera design; faster autofocus system and burst modes; solid performance at high ISOs despite the bump up in megapixels.

Cons: Significantly more expensive than previous model; slow buffer clearing with RAW images; with kit lens attached, camera becomes less portable.

Price and availability: Started shipping in September 2011; currently retails for US$900 with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS II kit lens.

Imaging Resource rating: 4.0 out of 5.0


Samsung NX200 Review

by Dan Havlik, Shawn Barnett, Zig Weidelich, and Mike Tomkins
Hands-on Preview Posted: 09/01/2011
Review posted: 03/12/2012

In a radical shift from its predecessor's chic, smooth contours, the Samsung NX200 is designed to appeal to the stealthy street shooter and camera enthusiast. Its no-nonsense blend of curves and hard edges appeals to the eyes as well as the hands. Its build is solid, its features strong, and its performance crisp.

The Samsung NX200's grip is just right for the size, rising like a swell about to break, there are no dips top to bottom, but the soft leather texture and knurled pad for the fingertips provide ample hold. The only thing to disturb my grip is the strap lugs, which work with D-rings. Though their noise can enter videos, they're apparently popular among camera designers and enthusiasts alike, as they seem to appear in more cameras these days.



The front shot shows just how serious they are about the design philosophy, at least on the front: the vertical surfaces are all curved while the horizontal surfaces are flat and hard-edged. Typical of Samsung, it's an aggressively artistic design that also works. While the NX100 appeared very artsy and even sensual, the NX200 looks more serious.


Stereo microphones flank the hot shoe, a step up from the NX100's monaural mic. Four speaker holes are nearby as well. A small top control dial is positioned about where it was on the NX200's predecessor. I'd have preferred it a little further forward, as well as a little larger, but I'm glad there's a second dial for greater control. It's labeled in blue for zooming in and out in Playback mode, but it's also used in several modes and menus.

I'm happy to see a power switch surrounding the shutter button. This is the most logical location for a power switch, and seems to be appearing on more interchangeable-lens cameras this year. The Mode dial has some new and unusual icons, and is well-positioned for easy turning. It was stiff enough to prevent accidental turning while in a bag or large pocket.


Much of the beauty of the Samsung NX200 is beheld in the AMOLED screen. Not only is the image on the screen quite good, the graphical interface is both impressive and well done. More importantly, the animations are fast enough that they don't get in the way.

Controls are reasonably well spaced, but tighter than they were on the NX200's predecessor. The main graphical adjustments are accessed by pressing the Fn button, which brings up the Smart Panel, a menu navigated via the four way and the rear wheel, and options are changed via the dial on the top deck. I'd have preferred the function button to appear where the EV or Menu button is, as it's more frequently accessed than even the Menu button. EV is in a good place, though. You hold it and turn the dial on the top deck. Very natural. And the Video Record button is far enough from the thumb grip, but is in danger of accidental activation as well.

While walking around shooting with the Samsung NX200, I found it pretty comfortable to use. As I mentioned, the animations were swift and attractive, a very important feature in a camera, where you can't afford to wait for swoopy features when a moment is passing before your eyes.

The NX200 is also packed with special modes and features, most of which we'll get to in the Shooter's Report below. It was handed to me in Burst mode, which threw me for a loop at first, as it started rapidly recording 30 frames per second, at five megapixels per shot. Not bad. The camera doesn't use the focal plane shutter in this mode, instead all you hear are clicks from the speaker as the camera rattles off at high speed. You can get close to 7 frames per second at 20-megapixels (we measured 6.6 in the lab), which also isn't too shabby, but of course you can hear and feel the shutter actuating at that speed.

Samsung's i-Function button allows the user to quickly adjust a small range of settings in combination with the focus ring. When pressed in PASM modes, the camera toggles among shutter speed, aperture, EV, ISO, White Balance, and intelli-Zoom. Once you've reached your desired setting, turning the ring adjusts that parameter.

We're pleased to see the more serious design, though we never disliked the old design, as well as the new lenses available for Samsung's NX series.

Samsung NX200 Video Walkthru

Click the video to hear Samsung's Andrew Berke walk through the Samsung NX200's major features

 

Samsung NX200 Technical Info

by Mike Tomkins

Sensor and processor. The NX200 is based around a Samsung-developed, APS-C sized CMOS image sensor with a Bayer color filter, and an effective resolution of 20.3 megapixels. Total resolution is 21.6 megapixels, in an area of 23.5 x 15.7mm. The NX200 yields a maximum image size of 5,472 x 3,648 pixels, and offers a sensitivity range of ISO 100 to 12,800 equivalents. There's also an Auto ISO function with a user-selectable upper limit, up to a maximum of ISO 3,200 equivalent.

As well as the native 3:2 aspect ratio of the image sensor, the Samsung NX200 also offers 16:9 and 1:1 aspect ratio modes for JPEG still image capture.

Performance. Samsung developed the NX200's image sensor in-house, and has also included its fourth-generation DSP architecture in the design. The pairing allows pretty swift performance, especially by compact system camera standards. Full-resolution shooting is possible at a maximum of 7 frames per second, for as many as 11 JPEG or 8 RAW frames, according to the company.

If set to Burst mode, in which the camera is locked at five megapixels, it's possible to shoot at either, 10, 15, or an impressive 30 frames per second. The burst mode is available for JPEG shooting only, and captures 30 frames with a single press of the shutter button. Note that the 2,736 x 1,824 pixel resolution used for this mode is not available in the camera's other operating modes.

In addition to the high-speed drive modes above, the Samsung NX200 also offers a lower-speed continuous drive mode, which allows shooting at 3 fps for up to 15 JPEG or 8 RAW frames. Samsung rates startup time at around 0.4 seconds, and autofocus at around 0.1 second, though we measured significantly slower in the lab.

Optics. Like all of the company's NX-series cameras, the NX200 features a Samsung NX lens mount. First introduced in April 2010, Samsung designed its NX mount specifically for use in compact system cameras, and allows much thinner camera bodies than in a traditional SLR, thanks to a great reduction in backfocus distance achieved by the removal of the reflex mirror box. (Olympus and Panasonic pioneered the concept in their Micro Four Thirds standard, albeit with a smaller sensor size, while Sony offers a direct rival in its APS-C based NEX-series cameras.)

Like all compact system cameras, the Samsung NX mount doesn't allow for a through-the-lens optical viewfinder, and doesn't allow for external autofocus or metering sensors. Instead, metering and focus are determined by the main image sensor, which also provides a data for the live view feed on the camera's AMOLED panel. Although it's a relatively new format, the selection of lenses available for the NX mount has grown quite quickly, with nine models available already. In total, there are four zoom lenses currently available, three of them optically stabilized: the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS II, 50-200mm f/4.0-5.6 ED OIS II, and 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 ED OIS. The sole unstabilized zoom model is the 20-50mm f/3.5-5.6 ED. Four unstabilized prime lenses are available: the 16mm f/2.4, 20mm f/2.8, 30mm f/2.0, and 85mm f/1.4 ED SSA, as well as a stabilized 60mm f/2.8 Macro ED OIS SSA. A 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 OIS VCM lens optimized for video had planned availability for December 2011, however it doesn't appear to be shipping at time of writing. (Note that the 18-55 and 50-200 lenses were also available previously in versions without the 'II' designation. The newer variants added Samsung's i-Function button, but we believe they're otherwise unchanged from the earlier versions.)

In addition to Samsung's NX-mount lens lineup, there are a few other choices available to photographers shooting with an NX-series camera. Four third-party lenses are available, all featuring manual focus designs, and offered by Korean company Samyang Optics Co. Ltd. All four models are unstabilized primes: an 8mm f/3.5 fisheye, a 14mm f/2.8, a 35mm f/1.4, and an 85mm f/1.4. Samsung itself also offers a lens mount adapter which will allow use of Samsung or Pentax K-mount lenses on NX-series cameras, a legacy of the company's one-time SLR camera partnership with Pentax. Finally, Germany's NOVOFLEX Präzisionstechnik GmbH offers a healthy selection of lens mount adapters that will allow use of Canon FD, Contax / Yashica, Leica R, M 42, Minolta AF / Sony, Minolta MD, Nikon, Olympus OM, Pentax K, and T2-mount lenses on NX-series bodies. Neither the Samsung or third-party adapters allow use of autofocus, however, and there will likely be limitations as to which individual lenses will be operable with any given mount adapter.

i-Function. Several of Samsung’s NX-mount lens models have another advantage for NX-series camera owners, beyond their ability to offer autofocus, and it provides something of a unique selling point for the system as a whole. Available on all models except the 30mm f/2.0 prime lens, i-Function allows each lens' focus ring to be used for a variety of secondary functions, by first pressing the dedicated i-Function button on the lens barrel. It's a clever idea that takes advantage of the lenses' fly-by-wire design, letting photographers quickly adjust common exposure variables without adjusting their hand grip, and without crowding the camera body itself with extra physical controls. The feature does require support in the lens, however, so if you own the 30mm prime, or an older 18-55 or 50-200mm zoom that lacks the 'II' designation, i-Function won't be available with those lenses mounted.

In the Samsung NX200, the i-Function control has been upgraded. Now dubbed i-Function 2.0, it allows a greater range of adjustments than was possible with earlier cameras. In addition to the ability to adjust shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, white balance, and ISO sensitivity, the NX200 now allows the user to control six different Smart Filter functions, or the intelli-Zoom function. The latter automatically trims off everything outside the 'zoomed' area, and saves the resulting cropped image at its original pixel resolution, rather than first interpolating it up to match the sensor resolution as a typical digital zoom would do. Available intelli-Zoom levels include 1.2x, 1.4x, 1.7x, or 2.0x. Smart Filter functions that can be controlled through the i-Function button include Vignetting, Miniature, Fish-Eye, Sketch, Defog, and Halftone Dots. Note that there are a few other Smart Filters, described later, which can't be controlled through the i-Function button

Stabilization. Image stabilization, as alluded to previously, relies on in-lens correction. Availability hence depends on the specific lens in use. In Samsung's current (or imminently arriving) NX-mount lens stock, all zooms except the 20-50mm model are stabilized, and all primes except the 60mm macro are unstabilized. The function can be disabled, and when active has two operating modes, but they're not the typical standard / panning modes found in many cameras. Instead, in OIS Mode 1, the NX200's stabilization system operates only while the shutter button is half or fully pressed, thereby saving battery life, but providing an unstabilized image preview. In OIS Mode 2, the NX200's stabilization system always operates whenever the camera is powered up, providing a stabilized preview, but at the cost of battery life. (The latter mode can also potentially offer less corrective effect, given that the corrective elements in the lens may not be centered at the moment the shutter button is pressed.)

Lens correction. Like earlier NX-series models, the Samsung NX200 offers an in-camera lens distortion correction function, which aims to reduce the severity of barrel or pincushion distortion in images. Samsung notes that the function may not be available with all lenses, although a list of supported lens models isn't mentioned in the user manual.

Display. The rear panel of the Samsung NX200 is dominated by its Active Matrix Organic LED (AMOLED) display panel, which has a 3.0-inch diagonal. Total resolution is 640 x 480 pixels, but unlike most digicam displays, the NX200 doesn't have a three-dot-per-pixel design. Instead, it retains the same PenTile RGBG array design as seen in the original NX10, which staggers narrow columns of green subpixels with wider columns of alternating red and blue subpixels. The result is a design that offers the same luminance resolution as a regular 921,600 dot VGA LCD panel with columns of red, green, and blue subpixels, despite a lower-than-average dot count for a VGA display, at some 614,400 dots. Samsung rates the NX200's display as offering a 100% field of view.

The Samsung NX200 offers what the company refers to as a Smart Panel user interface, which aims to keep the user from delving through menus to change common functions, instead providing quicker, more direct access. On-screen display options include four grid types, a live histogram, a distance scale, and the ability to enable or disable icons showing camera setup.

Focusing. The Samsung NX200, like most compact system cameras, relies on a contrast detection autofocusing system that operates using data streamed from the image sensor. The NX200's autofocus system offers both single-servo and continuous-servo operation, and ordinarily functions in a 15-point mode, with a single-point option available. There's also a finer-grained 35-point AF mode available for closeup shooting. In addition, the Samsung NX200 offers a face detection autofocus mode, capable of locating up to ten faces in a scene simultaneously. Focus is then set on the dominant face automatically. A built-in autofocus assist lamp is available to help out when focusing on nearby subjects in low ambient light.

As you'd expect, it's also possible to focus manually, with optional 5x or 8x magnification to help determine optimum focus. There is also a focus assist mode, where the camera displays a bar indicating current contrast level. Note, however, that all Samsung's NX-mount lenses use fly-by-wire manual focusing, rather than providing a direct control. (With careful handling, lenses with a direct focus control generally yield less obtrusive noise when manually adjusting focus during video capture, and some photographers may favor them for speed and accuracy of focus adjustment.) Current third-party lenses from Samyang feature direct manual focusing, as would most third-party lenses mounted via an adapter.

Dust reduction. As you'd expect of an interchangeable lens camera--especially one that leaves the shutter open most of the time to facilitate Live View--the Samsung NX200 includes a built-in dust reduction system. The system adopted by Samsung is the same as that found in earlier NX-series models, and uses supersonic vibrations to shake dust free of the optical low-pass filter overlying the image sensor. Sensor cleaning can be initiated manually, or can be programmed to run at each start-up.

Exposure. Available still-image exposure modes on the Samsung NX200 include the usual complement of Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual, plus SmartAuto 2.0, Lens Priority (automatically selects a scene mode relevant to the lens type in use), Panorama, Magic, and Scene. The Magic mode overlays one of thirteen frame types on your subject. Available Scene modes include Beauty shot, Night, Landscape, Portrait, Children, Sports, Close-Up, Text, Sunset, Dawn, Backlight, Fireworks, Beach & Snow, Sound Picture, 3D Photo.

Drive modes on offer include Single, Continuous, Burst (fixed at five megapixel resolution), Self-timer, and Bracket. The self-timer function is unusually precise, allowing any time between two and 30 seconds to be configured, in one-second steps. The bracketing mode, meanwhile, allowing bracketing of exposure (+/-3 EV), white balance, and Picture Wizard settings.

Exposures are metered using 221-segment multiple metering, with a 17 x 13 segment grid. Center-weighted and Spot metering modes are also available, and the metering system has an operating range of EV 0 - 18 at ISO 100, using the 30mm f/2 lens. Exposure compensation is available within a range of +/-3.0 EV in 1/3 EV steps, and exposure can be locked by half-pressing the shutter button.

The Samsung NX200 uses an electronically controlled vertical-run focal plane shutter, and offers shutter speeds ranging from 1/4,000 to 30 seconds in 1/3 EV steps. There's also a Bulb function, which allows the shutter to be held open for as long as the shutter is pressed, up to a maximum of four minutes.

The NX200's white balance system provides an Auto mode, seven presets (Daylight, Cloudy, White Fluorescent, Neutral Fluorescent, Daylight Fluorescent, Tungsten, and Flash), plus both a Custom mode, and a direct Kelvin color temperature setting. White balance can also be adjusted within seven steps on both Amber / Blue and Green / Magenta axes.

A Dynamic Range Expansion function is offered in the NX200. Its strength can't be adjusted, but it can be enabled or disabled as desired.

Flash. Samsung hasn't included a popup flash strobe in the NX200, but it does provide a standard flash hot shoe for external strobes, and includes a small camera-powered strobe in the product bundle. Flash sync is possible at 1/180 second or less, and +/-2.0 EV of flash exposure compensation is available, in 1/2 EV steps. Flash modes include Smart Flash, Auto, Auto+Red-eye reduction, Fill-in, Fill-in+Red-eye reduction, 1st Curtain, 2nd Curtain, and Off.

The bundled flash strobe is model number SEF8A, and has a guide number of 8 meters at ISO 100. It has coverage approximately equivalent to a 28mm lens on a 35mm camera, and folds down snug against the top of the lens when not in use (as shown above). As well as the bundled strobe, Samsung also offers three more powerful models compatible with the NX200: the SEF42A, SEF20A, and SEF15A.

Creative. Samsung has included quite a range of creative options in the NX200, catering to photographers who want to control the look of their images as much as possible, without resorting to the digital darkroom. A selection of nine Picture Wizard presets adjust color, contrast, saturation, and sharpness, and there are also three Custom modes which allow the user to save their own picture styles for later recall. Preset Picture Wizard styles include Standard, Vivid, Portrait, Landscape, Forest, Retro, Cool, Calm, and Classic.

The NX200 also provides ten different Smart Filter functions, which apply more complex filters to images. As mentioned previously, the Vignetting, Miniature, Fish-Eye, Sketch, De-fog, and Halftone Dots filters can all be accessed through the i-Function button on compatible NX-mount lenses. In addition, there are four further Smart Filter modes which must be accessed through the menu system: Soft Focus, Old Film 1, Old Film 2, and Negative.

Samsung's unusual Magic Frame function, accessed through its own position on the Mode dial, allows your subject to be placed within one of thirteen different borders. These are a bit like picture frames, but your subject is smoothly overlaid into a sometimes rather small area on a fun background, so that for example their face appears on a TV, or in a newspaper article. Magic Frame modes include Holiday, Old Film, Ripple, Full Moon, Old Record, Magazine, Sunny Day, Classic TV, Yesterday, Wall Art, Billboard 1, Billboard 2, and Newspaper.

The NX200 offers a Panorama function that automatically stitches multiple images together in-camera, allowing users to easily create a panoramic image. It also allows for capture of 3D images from a single objective lens, by comparing the locations of your subjects as they pass across the image frame.

Samsung has also included what it refers to as a Sound Picture function in the NX200. Available only when shooting JPEG images, this allows the camera to record a brief sound clip before and after an image is captured. The sound clips have a fixed length of either five or ten seconds.

As you'd expect, the NX200 provides for JPEG output in both sRGB and Adobe RGB color spaces.

NX200 Full HD video

Full HD video. 1,920 x 1,080 at 30 frames-per-second. (Click to play/download 22.9MB MP4 file.)

Video. The Samsung NX200 offers not only still image capture capabilities, but like most cameras these days, also provides for high-definition movie capture. The feature set is better than that in many competitors, though, providing not only Program autoexposure, but also Aperture- and Shutter-priority auto, and fully Manual exposure. However, shutter speed and/or aperture must be set before movie recording begins. It's also possible to apply all ten Smart Filter effects during movie capture, but only at VGA resolution or below.

The NX200's movies are recorded in MP4 format, using H.264 video compression, with AAC audio, in one of two quality levels. High-def movies can be captured at a maximum resolution of 1080p (1,920 x 1,080 pixels, aka Full HD), and there's also a 720p (1,280 x 720 pixel) mode available. Two standard-definition options include VGA (640 x 480 pixel) and QVGA (320 x 240 pixel). All resolutions are recorded at 30 frames per second, though the 720p mode can also be recorded at a rate of 60fps. The NX200 includes a stereo microphone, and movies can be recorded with or without audio, but note that the fly-by-wire focus control means that even manual focus operation is likely to make some AF drive motor noise.

In addition to regular movie capture, the NX200 provides for fast-motion and slow-motion recording. Available recording rates include 20x, 10x, and 5x at all resolutions, 0.5x at 720p or below, and 0.25x at VGA or below. It's possible to trim captured movies in-camera, and to extract single frames as still images.

GPS. Although the Samsung NX200 doesn't include built-in GPS connectivity, it can work with the company's WGS84 GPS module. Images tagged using this module can be viewed in Google Maps through the bundled intelli-Studio software package, and location names can be viewed on-screen in English or Korean.

Connectivity. Allowing for image transfer to computers and compatible storage devices, the Samsung NX200 provides USB 2.0 High-Speed data connectivity. It also includes both standard and high-definition video outputs. The standard-def output provides composite NTSC or PAL video, while high-def is catered for with a Mini (Type C) HDMI 1.3 port offering 1080i, 720p, 576p, or 480p resolutions. The HDMI port is compatible with Samsung's Anynet+ (HDMI-CEC) system which allows you to control the play function of the camera with a TV remote.

Unlike its predecessor, the Samsung NX200 does not include a wired remote control port, nor does it provide a dedicated DC input jack.

Storage. The NX200 stores images as either 12-bit .SRW RAW files, or as EXIF 2.21-compliant JPEGs in one of 13 resolutions and three quality settings. Images are stored on Secure Digital cards, including the higher-capacity SDHC and SDXC types.

Power. Power comes courtesy of a proprietary BP1030 lithium ion rechargeable battery pack, rated at 1,030 mAh, and good for 320 shots to CIPA testing standards, according to Samsung. A compatible BC1030 charger is included in the product bundle. While there's not a DC input jack, the NX200 can accept mains power via an optional AC adapter kit which provides 9.0V / 1.5A via a dummy battery.

Shooting with the Samsung NX200

by Dan Havlik

NX200 SMART FILTER

The NX200 has a bunch of cool Smart Filter effects including two Old Film looks.

When I first saw the 20.3-megapixel Samsung NX200 at a press preview event last summer, I was taken aback. Was this harder-edged, all-black compact system camera really a direct descendent of the curving and sensual Samsung NX100 I reviewed for Imaging Resource in early 2011? While the bigger and arguably more stylish NX100 seemed aimed at those who were new to the mirrorless CSC category, the serious-looking NX200 was clearly designed to attract experienced photo enthusiasts and prosumers.

It took me a day of shooting to get used to the new design, but I've grown to really like the NX200 both for its serious looks and its excellent shooting skills. The photographic upgrades to the NX200 are substantial: a 20.3MP APS-C image sensor with a 100-12,800 ISO range; full 1080 HD video recording at 30fps with stereo sound; faster autofocus speed with up to 7 frames per second continuous shooting at full resolution along with up to 30fps in Burst mode at 5-megapixels.

NX200 Vignette Filter

The Vignette filter added an ominous look to this wooded scene.

The NX200 also has a new 3-inch VGA AMOLED screen on back and Samsung has expanded its lens-based i-Function feature, which lets you change camera settings by pressing a button on the lens barrel. The Samsung NX200 also has a nicer kit lens than its precursor: the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS II. With an MSRP of $900, the price is higher for the new NX200 package, but I think it's worth it.

Getting a grip. While many people, including yours truly, liked the design of the NX100, one of the biggest complaints about it was that its smooth body and lack of a handgrip made the camera hard to hold. Problem solved with the NX200, which has a substantial but not obtrusive curved grip on the right side of the camera. There's no indentation for your fingers, but there is a faux leather texture on the grip that felt comfortable and relatively secure. While it's aimed at more experienced photographers, the overall size and weight of the NX200 -- without a lens attached -- makes it more petite.

NX200 Street photos

On the street. Though its long kit lens makes it less portable, the NX200 is a great street shooter.

When I attached the comparatively large 18-55mm OIS II kit lens with its flanged lens hood, however, the NX200 became a much larger instrument altogether. I'm on the fence about its size. On the one hand, the NX200 looks and feels like a serious photography tool. On the other hand, it's still a bit dainty for my tastes and the pinkie finger of my shooting hand dangled off the short camera body. But, like I said, after a day of shooting with the NX200, I got used to its handling.

What certainly helped was how responsive the NX200 was and how simple and logically its controls are laid out. The fair-sized silver shutter button sits atop the grip and is surrounded by the on/off power ring. As mentioned earlier, this a good set-up for cameras in this class since it makes turning on and shooting with the NX200 a quick and seamless process.

NX200 Candid shot

The NX200's 18-55mm kit lens is an improvement over its predecessor's, letting me snag candid moments even at the wide angle such as this New Yorker admiring the George Washington Bridge (hidden behind the magnifying glass).

While walking along the Hudson River in New York City, it was easy for me to fire up the Samsung NX200 and quickly shoot interesting things that I saw. The mode dial on the top deck is a bit stiff, which is good to prevent the NX200 from accidentally changing settings, but it also slowed down my adjustments. There's also one new setting on the dial which I wasn't familiar with: MAGIC. I'll get back to the MAGIC mode later, but for now suffice it to say I was a bit surprised to see it included.

Nice GUI. One of the nicest touches on the Samsung NX200 is the 3-inch AMOLED screen. Not only is the display quite good, the graphical user interface (GUI) is both impressive and well done. More importantly, the menu animations are fast enough that they don't get in the way. Finding features and making adjustments can be a chore on some cameras, which can take away from the fun experience of photography. I hope that some competing camera companies take Samsung's lead and make their interfaces more user friendly.

The buttons on back of the Samsung NX200 are small to make room for the substantial screen, but they're reasonably well spaced and I figured out how to get to all its important functions soon after picking up the NX200. The well-designed and clear menu system helped. While walking around shooting with the Samsung NX200, I found it quite comfortable to use.

NX200 Candid moment

The NX200, which can shoot 7fps at full resolution, is quick on the draw, helping you capture sports and candid moments.

Speedy shooter. There was a time not long ago when compact system cameras and their creaky contrast-based autofocus systems could be frustratingly slow to use. That began changing about a year ago and the NX100 was one of the first CSCs I tried where I didn't feel bogged down by slow autofocus. It has improved even further with the NX200.

In my field testing -- which matched Imaging Resource's lab results -- I found the NX200's AF to be fairly swift, though not as quick as Samsung has claimed. According to press and marketing info on the NX200, Samsung says the NX200 is capable of autofocus speeds of 0.1 second. We didn't achieve that, but our lab did average 0.37-second when autofocusing the NX200's lens using Selection AF (center) mode and 0.42-second in Multi AF mode. While not as fast as Olympus and Panasonic have achieved in their latest CSC offerings, it's not too bad. When we pre-focused, we experienced a shutter lag of just 0.084-second, which was very good.

NX200 Detail

The Samsung NX200's 20.3MP sensor is able to capture loads of detail.

In real world street testing, this translated to a camera that was quick to lock in on a subject and snap a photo. I never had to think (or worse, wait) while snapping away at subjects around Madison Square Garden in midtown Manhattan, and in the northern part of the island on upper Broadway during two photo walks with the NX200. I even tried my somewhat clumsy street photography method, where I kept the NX200 against my chest and photographed interesting people on the street while tilting the camera up. Though this doesn't alert them that they're being photographed, image quality can be hit or miss. The NX200's AF system and the 18-55mm kit lens did such a good job of keeping my subjects sharp, I was able to come away with a few keepers.

In lower light when shooting at high ISOs, the NX200 and 18-55mm did take an extra second or two for the lens to lock in -- and an extra second or two to process the image before it popped up on the screen -- but that's not unexpected for a camera in this class or even for an entry-level DSLR, especially with long-exposure noise reduction active.

If you're shooting sports or other high-speed action, you'll likely lean on the NX200's impressive burst capabilities. In full resolution continuous mode, you can shoot JPEGs up to 7fps (the lab measured 6.6 fps for Superfine JPEGs), and in Burst mode at 5 megapixels, you can capture at a blazing rate of 30fps. The regular 7fps speed was enough for me to capture continuous sequences of ice skaters, basketball players, and other athletes. Continuous mode isn't quite as fast with RAW files, though, slowing to about 6 fps, and buffer clearing is quite slow when RAW files are present. The lab measured 34 seconds after 8 RAW frames, and 43 seconds after 8 RAW + JPEG frames, with a fast card.

Magical Modes. Most digital cameras these days -- even a few professional models -- have creative pre-set modes for giving your images special looks and effects. The popularity of these canned digital filters has even grown larger lately thanks to smart phones and the slew of funky photo apps available for them. (Instagram and Hipstamatic, anyone?) Samsung has further upped the ante with a range of digital filters, frames and effects on the NX200.

Below are a few of the Smart Filters accessible from the iFunction button on the side of the lens, as well as the Mode dial.

NX200 Backlight NX200 Landscape Sunset NX200 Dawn
Backlight
Landscape
Sunset
Dawn
NX200 Vignetting NX200 Fisheye NX200 Sketch NX200 Halftone dots
Vignetting
Fish-eye
Sketch
Halftone Dots

While these pre-sets might not be everyone's cup of tea, in my experience with the NX100 and now the NX200, Samsung does them better than most any camera company. Not only do the specialty modes produce interesting results, they're easy to access via the NX200's excellent interface, and can be applied to images both before and after you shoot them. Most of the fun can be found in the Smart Filters, all ten of which can be accessed via the NX200's Mode dial, as well as the i-Function button on compatible NX-mount lenses.

NX200 Negative filter

You won't want to use it all the time but the Negative filter can make the everyday appear otherworldly.

Some of the Smart Filters are carry overs from before including Vignetting, Miniature (which simulates the effect of a tilt-shift lens), Fish-Eye, Sketch (which transforms an image into a black-and-white etching), Defog, Halftone Dots, and Soft Focus. But I also liked a couple of the new ones, which seems to take a page from Instagram etc, including Old Film 1 (grainy, scratchy B&W), Old Film 2 (grainy, scratchy sepia), and Negative, which can produce an otherworldly effect.

NX200 Magic Frames

The Magic Frames won't be for everyone but they can provide a cool effect, such as when I placed our cat into the Classic TV frame.

More unusual is the Magic Frame function, which you can access via the MAGIC icon on the mode dial. It puts your subject within one of 13 different off-the-wall borders. They look a little like picture frames but with a very pop-culture influence. Your subject is smoothly overlaid into a sometimes rather small area on a whimsical background. For example, a face appears on a TV, or in a newspaper article. Magic Frame modes include Holiday, Old Film, Ripple, Full Moon, Old Record, Magazine, Sunny Day, Classic TV, Yesterday, Wall Art, Billboard 1, Billboard 2, and Newspaper. These will definitely not be for everyone -- some of the borders can be a bit cheesy -- but kudos to Samsung for trying something new. As an experiment, I photographed our cat in the B&W Classic TV screen and my wife loved it. But then again, she likes pretty much any picture I take of the cat.

Panorama. Found on the Mode dial, the Samsung NX200 also has a Panorama mode. In our short time with the camera, we found it a bear to use. Though like Nikon Coolpix cameras, you just press the button and start panning in a direction of your choice, without having to pre-select a direction in advance, it seldom worked. Most often it stopped recording after a second and complained that I hadn't moved the camera at all. If I moved a little faster, it complained I was moving too fast. Once I finally managed to pan at a consistent speed and level, I captured two panoramas.

NX200 Panorama

Capturing a panorama with the Samsung NX200 was a little more difficult than with most.

Other attempts failed either immediately or halfway through. I also tried doing a horizontal pan with the camera in vertical mode, so I could capture more of the trees, and this was impossible. I tried one panning vertically, but it just kept going over my head until I got the trees behind me (see the last image in the gallery), and it messed up the sky transitions. You're probably not supposed to do that.

In a nut shell. The all-black Samsung NX200 not only looks a lot different from its predecessor -- smaller, sleeker, and more professional -- its performs differently too, and that's a good thing. While we largely liked the older model, the 20.3MP NX200's image quality, particularly at higher ISOs, was an improvement. The NX200 also has a faster autofocus system and the ability shoot full-resolution bursts at almost 7fps and 5MP images at an impressive 30fps. Throw in a better 18-55mm optically stabilized kit lens with i-Function for changing camera adjustments on the fly and a range of new specialty modes, filters, and whimsical borders, and the NX200 offers enough to justify the jump up in price.

 

Samsung NX200 Image Quality

Below are crops comparing the Samsung NX200, Samsung NX100, Canon 60D, Nikon D3X, Panasonic G3, and Sony NEX-7. Though we normally start with ISO 1,600 here, we thought we'd start with the base ISO to show the best each camera can do.

NOTE: These images are best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction. All cameras in this comparison were shot with our very sharp reference lenses.

Samsung NX200 versus Samsung NX100 at ISO 100

Samsung NX200 at ISO 100
Samsung NX100 at ISO 100

The 20.3-megapixel Samsung NX200 is clearly able to resolve more detail than its 14.6-megapixel predecessor, but noise is also little more evident from the NX200 at ISO 100. Pretty similar results otherwise, though. Both smear subtle detail in our red leaf swatch more than most competing models, and both oversharpen.


Samsung NX200 versus Canon 60D at ISO 100

Samsung NX200 at ISO 100
Canon 60D at ISO 100

Samsung's NX200 captures very crisp detail at ISO 100, though it leaves some luminance noise in the shadows, and also tends to blur some solid colors, particularly red. While it finds more detail in the pink swatch below the red leaf swatch, it renders it more purple. The Canon 60D has a more even approach that results in smoother images overall, and it's limited somewhat by its lower-resolution, 18-megapixel sensor.


Samsung NX200 versus Nikon D3X at ISO 100

Samsung NX200 at ISO 100
Nikon D3X at ISO 100

The Samsung NX200 does surprisingly well against the $8,000 full-frame Nikon D3X at ISO 100. The NX200's noise suppression is a little more active, especially in the red leaf swatch. In terms of fine, high-contrast detail, the NX200 and D3X are quite similar. The pink swatch below the red swatch is rendered more accurately in the D3X image, while the NX200 is too purple.


Samsung NX200 versus Panasonic G3 at base ISO

Samsung NX200 at ISO 100
Panasonic G3 at ISO 160

The NX200 outresolves the Panasonic G3's 16-megapixel sensor, but the G3 again presents a more even representation at its base ISO, rendering the red leaf swatch about equal to its treatment of the mosaic label. It also gets some of the threads in the pink swatch, and gets the color closer. In high-contrast detail, though, the NX200 does better.


Samsung NX200 versus Sony NEX-7 at ISO 100

Samsung NX200 at ISO 100
Sony NEX-7 at ISO 100

The 20.3-megapixel Samsung NX200 looks pretty good up against the 24.3-megapixel Sony NEX-7, but its main failure is in the red leaf swatch, especially here at ISO 100.



Most digital SLRs and CSCs will produce an excellent ISO 100 shot, so we like to push them and see what they can do compared to other cameras at ISO 1,600, 3,200, and 6,400. Recent advances in sensor technology have made ISO 1,600 look a lot more like ISO 100, but there are still cameras whose quality starts to fall apart at this setting. We also choose 1,600 because we like to be able to shoot at least at this level when indoors and at night.

Samsung NX200 versus Samsung NX100 at ISO 1,600

Samsung NX200 at ISO 1,600
Samsung NX100 at ISO 1,600

At ISO 1,600, the Samsung NX200 works harder to reduce luminance noise leading to a smoother image while still delivering better resolution, though sharpening artifacts are more noticeable than in the NX100. Both cameras leave a lot of chroma noise behind.


Samsung NX200 versus Canon 60D at ISO 1,600

Samsung NX200 at ISO 1,600
Canon 60D at ISO 1,600

At ISO 1,600, the Samsung NX200 leaves behind a bit of chroma noise in the shadows, which the Canon 60D cleans up. Levels of detail left behind are similar, but the edge goes to the Samsung NX200.


Samsung NX200 versus Nikon D3X at ISO 1,600

Samsung NX200 at ISO 1,600
Nikon D3X at ISO 1,600

Unsurprisingly the Nikon D3X's full-frame sensor manages to produce a little more detail across all colors as ISO rises to 1,600, with less sharpening and no detectable chroma noise left behind.


Samsung NX200 versus Panasonic G3 at ISO 1,600

Samsung NX200 at ISO 1,600
Panasonic G3 at ISO 1,600

Though the Panasonic G3 manages to eliminate chroma noise that the NX200 leaves behind, the result is the NX200 keeps more image detail.


Samsung NX200 versus Sony NEX-7 at ISO 1,600

Samsung NX200 at ISO 1,600
Sony NEX-7 at ISO 1,600

Here again, the Samsung NX200's sensor is let down by its JPEG engine, leaving more luminance noise and much more chrominance noise behind, while blurring the red leaf fabric more than the Sony NEX-7. Both maintain reasonably good high-contrast detail, though the NX200 shows more sharpening halos. Both are APS-C sensors. Sony's efforts at noise processing start to show artifacts and signs of gaussian blur, like in the shadow and yellow bottle.



Today's ISO 3,200 is yesterday's ISO 1,600 (well, almost), so below are the same crops at ISO 3,200.

Samsung NX200 versus Samsung NX100 at ISO 3,200

Samsung NX200 at ISO 3,200
Samsung NX100 at ISO 3,200

Here, the NX200 clearly outperforms its predecessor, especially in the red leaf swatch where the NX100's noise reduction leaves almost no detail. The NX100 leaves much more luminance noise, has muted colors, and looks a bit dark and murky in comparison. The NX200 leaves more chroma noise, though.


Samsung NX200 versus Canon 60D at ISO 3,200

Samsung NX200 at ISO 3,200
Canon 60D at ISO 3,200

Chroma noise becomes more of a problem for the NX200 at ISO 3,200, showing up as large yellow and purple blotches in shadows and other dark areas, which makes dark areas look hazy rather than sharp. The 60D's image maintains a little more contrast and photo-realism.


Samsung NX200 versus Nikon D3X at ISO 3,200

Samsung NX200 at ISO 3,200
Nikon D3X at ISO 3,200

Here the advantage of full-frame is quite clear, with the Nikon D3X images looking excellent overall, with less noise and better detail and color. It's important to remember, though, that the D3X is quite a bit larger and costs US$8,000.


Samsung NX200 versus Panasonic G3 at ISO 3,200

Samsung NX200 at ISO 3,200
Panasonic G3 at ISO 3,200

The Panasonic G3 eliminates more of the chroma noise at ISO 3,200, but the NX200 maintains brightness and color better, so we give the advantage to the Samsung.


Samsung NX200 versus Sony NEX-7 at ISO 3,200

Samsung NX200 at ISO 3,200
Sony NEX-7 at ISO 3,200

Again, the Sony's more sophisticated noise reduction and JPEG rendering preserves more detail and leaves less noise than Samsung's JPEG engine. The NEX-7's image is darker than the NX200's, though.



Detail: Samsung NX200 versus Samsung NX100, Canon 60D, Nikon D3X, Panasonic G3, and Sony NEX-7

Samsung
NX200

ISO 100
ISO 3,200
ISO 6,400
Samsung
NX100

ISO 100
ISO 3,200
ISO 6,400
Canon
60D

ISO 100
ISO 3,200
ISO 6,400
Nikon
D3X

ISO 100
ISO 3,200
ISO 6,400
Panasonic
G3

ISO 160
ISO 3,200
ISO 6,400
Sony
NEX-7

ISO 100
ISO 3,200
ISO 6,400
Detail comparison. High-contrast details are often sharper as ISO rises, so they're worth a look as well. The Samsung NX200's base ISO looks quite a bit better than that of the NX100, which is at a disadvantage with its lower resolution and slightly dimmer exposure. The NX200 does show the most obvious sharpening halos, though. At ISO 3,200 you can see that the NX200 is starting to struggle to resolve the fine lines; still, it's clearly much better than the NX100 where lines are no longer visible. The other cameras do a better job. At ISO 6,400, fine lines are mostly smudged-away by Samsung's noise reduction. As expected, the Nikon D3X is the best performer here, but the other cameras still resolve a lot of the detail the two Samsungs don't. In terms of color, the NX200, 60D, and D3X maintain the red better than the NX100, G3, and NEX-7, though the NX200's red text is lighter and quite smudged.

 

Samsung NX200 Quality

ISO 100 images show pretty amazing detail and great color at 24 x 36. 30 x 40s are fine for a good wall display print.

ISO 200 shots are quite good at 24 x 36 inches, albeit with minor softening apparent in our red swatch.

ISO 400 shots look impressive at 20 x 30, while 24 x 36 inch prints are still quite good for wall display.

ISO 800 images look good at 16 x 20 inches, save for certain reds, which are a little softer.

ISO 1,600 images are also very good at 16 x 20, with the exception of losing all contrast detail in our red swatch.

ISO 3,200 images suffer from noise suppression, and look too soft printed at 13 x 19; they become better at 11 x 14.

ISO 6,400 shots are a little smudgy at 8 x 10, but look very good with good color at 5 x 7

ISO 12,800 images are not usable and this setting best avoided.

Overall, a very impressive performance from the Samsung NX200. Printing a great 24 x 36 inch print is nothing to sneeze at. There's still an abrupt drop in quality at ISO 3,200, but it still manages to make an acceptable print up to at least 5 x 7 at ISO 6,400.

 

In the Box

The Samsung NX200 ships with the following items in the box:

  • Samsung NX200 digital camera
  • Neck strap
  • External Flash
  • Lithium-ion rechargeable battery
  • Battery charger with AC power cable
  • USB cable
  • Software CD-ROM
  • Basic Operation User Manual
  • Full User's Manual (CD-ROM)
  • Warranty card

 

Recommended Accessories

  • Extra battery pack
  • Protective case
  • Large capacity, high-speed SDHC/SDXC memory card. 8-16GB or larger makes sense if you plan on shooting lots of HD video.

Not sure which SLR lens to buy?

Visit SLRgear.com for
camera lens reviews, tests, specs & prices,
including Samsung lenses!

 

Samsung NX200 Conclusion

Pro: Con:
  • Excellent resolution and detail
  • Very good JPEG image quality at low to moderate ISOs
  • Better high ISO performance than its predecessor, despite the bump in resolution
  • Very good RAW image quality
  • Good hue accuracy
  • Sleeker, more professional camera design with a substantial handgrip
  • 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS II kit lens with i-Function is better than kit lens with previous camera
  • Automatic chromatic aberration reduction
  • Optional geometric distortion correction
  • Not as fast as advertised but quick autofocus system helps for capturing candids on the fly
  • Nice 7fps continuous shooting at full resolution and blazing fast 30fps at 5MP in Burst mode
  • Full 1080p HD video shooting with stereo sound
  • PASM exposure mode support for videos
  • Dedicated video record button
  • Clear and quick user interface, menu system and animations should be a model to other camera companies
  • Flash hot shoe
  • Extensive specialty modes, filters and funky frames
  • Gorgeous 3-inch VGA AMOLED screen
  • Optional GPS module (attaches via hot shoe)
  • A significant bump up in price from previous model
  • Dynamic range not as good as most APS-C rivals
  • JPEG engine smears subtle detail in reds more so than most other cameras, yet leaves a lot of chroma noise behind at higher ISOs
  • Default sharpening a bit high
  • With kit lens attached and strobe, camera becomes significantly larger
  • Auto WB too warm indoors and Incandescent too cool
  • Little control over noise reduction
  • Sluggish startup and single-shot cycle times
  • Slow buffer clearing with RAW files; huge ~50MB SRW files could really use a compressed option. (Note that firmware v1.04 reduces RAW file sizes up to 25%, according to Samsung.)
  • Some "Magic Frames" are a bit cheesy
  • Not as stylish looking as previous model
  • Tiny buttons; camera feels scrunched on back
  • No remote control port
  • No support for an EVF

 

It's a good thing the design of the NX200 isn't the only thing Samsung changed. While we genuinely liked the looks of the stylish previous model, the NX100, we had issues with its JPEG image quality when shooting at high ISOs. The all-black, 20.3MP NX200, a compact system camera which looks like a sleek, futuristic DSLR, is not only a better performer at the high end of the ISO spectrum despite the jump up in megapixels, it adds quite a few key features.

For one, the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS (Optical Image Stabilizer) II kit lens that comes with the NX200 is a very decent all-around performer and boasts i-Function 2.0, letting you change important camera settings just by touching a button on the lens barrel. The NX200 is also a faster shooter all around, with a reasonably quick autofocus system that made taking sharp, candid photos on the street a snap.

We also liked the faster burst modes, including almost 7fps at full resolution and a blazing 30fps at 5MP. Video quality has improved to 1080p HD with stereo sound and the 3-inch AMOLED screen is a beauty. Along with playing back images, the screen makes using the NX200's crisp, clear, and logical menu system a breeze. Unlike some competing models that turn treading through menus and animations into a slow chore, the NX200 is fast on its feet, letting you make the adjustments you want quickly and painlessly.

And there's a lot to fiddle around with on this camera, including extensive filters, effects, and funky "Magic" frames that you can add to your images. The trade-off with this new and improved model is a significantly higher price. Indeed, for the $900 you'll fork over for the NX200 kit, you could get a very nice DSLR with a lens. Fortunately though, there are fewer liabilities with getting a mirrorless compact system camera these days. The NX200 is extremely quick on the draw, capturing nice photos in a range of lighting conditions making it a solid Dave's Pick.

 

Print the overview page for the Samsung NX200 digital camera reviewPrint this Page

Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

Follow Imaging Resource

Purchase memory card for Samsung NX200 digital camera
Top 3 photos this month win:

1 $300 Adorama Gift Certificate

2 $200 Adorama Gift Certificate

3 $100 Adorama Gift Certificate