USER REPORT: The Samsung NX200 Camera Review
by Vlad Dodan –
His blog can be seen HERE –
I have been reviewing Samsung NX 200 for the past two weeks already and now I have the time to post this on-line for everybody to see.
Today’s review is based on the actual presentation that I did for the launch of the NX 200 camera, so the slides that you will see are the actual slides that I have presented for everybody present at the launch, they are 1920×1080 pixels so they might be a bit large for most of the laptop screens currently on the market.
This review will be split into 3 chapters:
1. NX and the future of mirror-less cameras.
2. NX 200 – The Beast Within
3. NX lenses
1. The NX system and what we should expect from Samsung in the near future:
For those of you who do not know what mirror-less is, I have attached a picture and the quick explanation is: WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get). The photographer no longer sees the real image through an optical viewfinder, instead he sees what the camera is going to save after the shutter-click. So there`s no more “what shutter-speed should I use?” or “is this the right white-balance for the situation?”. There`s no more mirror in the body to send the image into a penta-prism; no more camera shake due to the mirror hitting the matte screen. Long story short: smaller camera and faster results.
They [Samsung] leaped into the mirror-less market about 2 years ago with the NX5, than the NX10, NX100 (smaller body, no viewfinder), NX11 to replace the first two and now the NX200 to replace the NX100. They started slow building up the lens system betting everything on a “long-run” strategy. And in my opinion, it was a wise decision, mostly because competitors haven`t gone to far either, and now with the introduction of this improved sensor and processor, we have a glimpse into the future of the mirror-less trend, and market.
So by analyzing the specs of the NX200 we can speculate what the customer is in for with the next NX camera … be it NX20, or in a couple of years, NX300 etc.
2. NX 200 – The “I`m a believer” turn of events
The moment I saw the camera, I fell in love with the design. It`s so simple, the lines are perfect. Every curve is there for a reason. The grip is better than NX100, the slimmer body gives it a better grasp. The buttons are where they should be and the backbone is magnesium, just like the professional cameras.
The new 3″AMOLED screen is quite nice. It not perfect but it holds up to the competition. I would have loved more than 630k pixels and I could have lived without the green hue when looked at from an angle, but overall it is a big step forward from the old LCD on NX11 / NX100.
I`ve always said that 12Mpx are enough for anybody, and if I can make money using 12 Mpx … everyone can. But now, after 2 weeks of chimping, zooming in, zooming out of 20Mpx files it`s damn hard to move back to my D700. Feels like going back to stone-age.
It comes with a price: if you have a small hard-drive, or small memory cards … they will fill up pretty fast. A regular JPEG is around 7MB and a RAW is 44-45MB. That`s allot, in my books.
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[if you right-click them + open in new tab] The following slides are 1980x1080px and the big images have a 1:1 scale. 1 pixel of your screen should be 1 pixel of the image.
Up to 1600 is wonderful, and keep in mind were talking 20Mpx here on a APS-C sensor (23.5mm x 15.7mm). ISO 3200 can hold it`s own. It`s on par with the competition. ISO 6400-12800 are usable if your life depended on that. 🙂 12800 has serious banding issues.
I dismissed this new feature for being to mainstream. But after half a day of forcing myself to use it, I realized that it`s usable, and on top of that, it`s actually USEFUL!
Nearly all NX lenses have this iFn button and a 2nd ring on them. Press the iFn button once, and a tabbed menu pops on the screen. You have tabs for just about every setting that`s part of the picture taking process. Rotate the ring on the lens and “Voila!” The setting has changed. And the best part: The tabs can be selected within the menu so if you only need EV compensation and WB tabs … you can have only those.
Another one of those “This can`t be better than what`s already on the market” moments.
But after close inspection, the smart panel is mother of all configuration screens. It gives you everything at a click of a button and the menus change based on your shooting mode!
If you go in the camera`s menu, set everything to you liking, the first day you get the NX200; with the help of the smart panel, you can forget about everything else from that point forward.
This can swing both ways.
The good: it shoots 7 fps for a max of 11 frames. It can also burst 10-15-30 fps at lower rez.
The bad: even with the fasted SD memory card, it still takes the camera a while to transfer from the buffer to the card. If you shoot Jpeg Fine … it`s not that bad, but it can get ugly!
The ugly: Don`t try RAW bursts. EVER!
Movies at 1080p are industry standard at the moment and this camera makes good use of it by having access to some sweet lenses. 🙂
There are enough shooting modes to satisfy every type of customer:
P/A/S/M (including in video mode)
SMART (the stupid-proof mode) (pre-focuses for you!)
MAGIC (a bunch of goofy frames and software lomo conversion kits)
iMODE (SMART with the use of iFn button)
The most appealing thing about the NX system is the availability of great lenses from day 1.
Samsung has released 9 lenses so far and I bet they plan on releasing at least 5 the next year.
Out of everything I had to test, I`ll say a few words about 1 from each of the 4 categories (Carry, Optima, Omnia, Premium)
The 30mm f/2 is small enough to fit w/ the body in your jeans back pocket. Best lens for street. It makes you unobtrusive. Focuses fast enough for the majority of potential buyers. It`s sharp and it`s the only one that doesn`t have iFn (it was one of the first lenses released back when iFn was just a dream)
The 18-200 f/3.5-6.3 is the only lens you`ll ever need when traveling. (I wouldn`t leave home without the 30mm/2 but if you have to pick only one lens, this one get`s the job done)
It`s kinda soft at 200mm and that f/6.3 is not Prince Charming either, but for daylight it should get the job done. It has Optical Stabilization to fight camera shake.
The 60mm f/2.8 was my favorite lens by far for it`s sharpness and close focus possibilities. It`s a game-changer. It has a supersonic motor and optical stabilization. It`s form factor is just perfect as a portrait lens and it`s sharpness is way off the charts. Paired with the 20Mpx sensor of the NX200 and it just blew me away.
I got this bad boy at the end of my review. Used it for a couple of days, and I have to say that if you`re into creamy bokeh, this is the cream machine (not to be confused with Leica 50mm f/0.95) This one renders the out of focus areas beautifully and as far as I know it`s the only 85mm f/1.4 on the mirrorless market at the time of this article. And for around 1000 Euros … beats the **** out of the competition. Just my 2 cents.
And, as always, I left the sum of less impressive things at the end:
- The green tint of the display it`s not as bad as you think but given enough time, it can be annoying.
- No viewfinder. At the moment the EVF of the NX100 does not work on the NX200, so we`re waiting for a proper EVF. I have banged the camera to my forhead at least 4 times in the first day.
- Small battery. I have squeezed 380 frames out of that 1030MAh cell, and it`s over the 350 frames stated by Samsung, but I bet other people will chimp more often and will not be able to get more than 250 frames out of one single charge, and that`s not fine.
- 20-50mm and 18-55mm lenses will be forgotten really fast by experienced amateurs. I would have loved a 20-50 f/4 instead of that 3.5-5.6 version.
- The kit flash is actually a small hot-shoe flash. Too easy to lose.
- Some banding issues at iso 3200-6400-12800.
Now, don`t be scared by what I found less appealing. It might not be the case for everyone, I`m pickier by default…
Overall the NX200 is a wonderful camera and the lenses currently available for it are amazing. And when your mind wraps around the fact that it`s light as a feather … buying it will be a no-brainer.
The NX200 is available at B&H Photo HERE
Just a detail, the NX10 has a AMOLED screen. Nice review,btw.
I am perhaps a Samsung tragic. From shooting film in Minolta and then Olympus SLR’s, I first bought the NV 7 3 years back, then the NX 10 and recently the NX 100. I now have the 20mm, the 18-55 zoom and the 50-200 zoom.
I find the auto white balance is usually very accurate, however if in doubt I bracket the white balance and the results are excellent.
The main thing for me as I cannot compare with other competing systems is that
1. each camera has worked faultlessly,
2. a body with 3 lenses is very portable. I do a lot of walking and have never felt burdened by carrying this amount of equipment,
3 there appears to be an ongoing evolution. Samsung has now released the NX 20 and it would appear to meet many of the requirements listed above (fold out screen, in built level etc.) Can I justify a 4th camera??. The evolution also applies to the lens development we have seen. I expect more primes to appear and the primes are much better than the zooms.
If I were to move to another system I would need to be convinced that I am going to get significantly better results. While I am sure this is possible, I suspect that the cost to get there would be very steep.
I enjoy everyone’s contributions and this site.
Those are sure a pile of handsome nx lenses. Dont think many ppl would be ashamed to have them for any system.
Interesting review. I must say that although the reviewer comments on the quality of the images, the samples posted do appear to show a combination of over-sharpening, noise, and often rather noisy and “crunchy” shadows. Unfortunately the jpegs appear to have had their EXIF data removed, so it is impossible to tell what ISO the photos were taken with, and whether they are taken from the camera or post processed. I have seen other reviews of the NX200 that seems to indicate that it’s resolving ability and noise handling are on a par with the Sony NEX-7 (24Mp), so it is a very interesting camera with an interesting choice of lenses (stronger than the Sony NEX system, but not as mature as micro 4/3rds). However, the resolving power and noise control appear to be superior to the Olympus Pen cameras, and possibly some or all of the Panasonic G series. One to watch, I think.
Samsung nx I.Q at the iso’s up to 1600, are very good. M43 isnt better, plus m43 lenses cost a pile and most ppl gravitate towards buying expensive lenses from the 2 big boys, Canikon.M43 could be more viable if they didnt charge so much for such lenses, as most users see csc cameras as non pro or enthusiast. The strategy from Oly and Panny has been slightly wrong from the off set.To sell loads of gear it must be affordable and easy to use as well as being highly attractive.They fail pretty miserably at the affordable catagory, especially when an entry level dslr on sale can go for much as 550 with ovf and the ep3 is about 800 without evf. it’s hard for most ppl to fork out a grand or more for puny lenses that dont have the name Leica written on it. Fair or not fair, that’s a real concern for many..
Sorry, one more open question… Anybody knows who makes the Samsung lenses? Is it Schneider Optics?
Samsung has its own imaging department for the NX lenses–it’s all done in-house.
Tks! It is impressive that Samsung has made great efforts to have more of a complete lens line, compared to Sony. (especially in house) Heck, it has taken a while even for a company like Nikon to crank out DX lenses…
I suspect one of these companies (among the Micro Four Thirds, NEX, NX and Nikon CX mirrorless cameras) are probably one generation a way from having the ideal Mirrorless Camera System.
Some are missing lenses here and there. Others simply need one more iteration in terms of AF, sensor performance and ergonomics…
So close, yet so far!
I think there is still Schneider involved somewhere. Or they have really good optics engineers. Quality of NX lens is very suprising.. (that positive kind of way). And they actually have some “look”, not just plain generic boring lens.
It doen by a company called Optron Tech
Vlad – Thank you for the review. Although you did touch upon it a little bit, I was wondering if you could elaborate a little more in regards to the “noise factor” on the NX200 sensor. A lot of people have mentioned that they are quite worried about Samsung cramming in so many pixels into an APS-C size sensor. Similarly, people have expressed concerns about the Sony NEX-7. So much so, that some have said the NEX-5N could be a better choice among the mirrorless cameras.
Compared to a D700, is ISO 3200 usable on the NX200? Or is ISO 1600 really the ideal max sweet spot? I love the color on the D700 with its chubby pixels. It is tough to give up. I wasn’t sure how much the above samples were or were not post processed for noise.
Secondly, how was the NX200 AF in terms of taking action shots (e.g. little kids and sports)…?
The micro four thirds seem to be the most complete in terms of lens selection, but it is weak in the sensor area. The Sony NEX’s are great in the sensor area, but weak on lenses. Perhaps the NX200 could be the closest in covering both concerns?
Really I found the NX200 to be perfection in a large sensor APS-C with three great pancakes. Good focus, fast, light and portable, good looking, great screen. I don’t miss EVF but it will come. Skin tones are my problem, I got spoiled with Olympus and Leica. But with Lightroom work, skin tones could be perfect. With the samsung included software if you choose “Memory Color 1” skin tones look better. I need a good PP person to help me out here. As they are jpegs and simply treated raws are too pale. Samsung could take over the world if they cleared this little problem. They are 2 years ahead of Sony in pancake development! jpegs are being criticized at hi ISO but Raws are respected. So close Samsung. So close. And really Samsung you can make 200 TV models where is the 2 meg EVF???
Why would you look at these images and assess the sharpness/detail and/or colors? I’m not suggesting you’re wrong. I’m simply saying that given all the work that goes into writing something like this, that one would take web JPEGs to be representative…. Doesn’t seem right.
You have Photozone, dpreview and DXOMark for all the numbers.
I had another look at the images posted here and I am sad to say, to me they look
horrible. There is no fine detail, pasty looking faces, gruesome colours and some
are badly exposed. Not exactly flattering material to push any camera into the
public limelight. But maybe it’s just me. I certainly would not buy this cam judging
by those images.
Good review, thanks. I now have the NX200 and will be dealing with a lack of viewfinder by use of monopod and/or tripod. 2 test shots using AEB really showed the camera’s potential for HDR shooters…and it is very good indeed. This feature is superior to the decent in-camera HDR feature employed by the Nex 5n that I recently owned.
Does it take M mount? No? What a design fiasco for a mirrorless system.
it’s made for NX lenses, if you use your common sense.
Does the Leica take the Samsung nx mount? LOL. Samsung and the other camera makers in the business to make Leica money. If it fits a Leica lens with an adapter, then it does, if it doesn’t, then it doesn’t. Why would you buy and AF camera to use manual focus lenses? There’s the Leica m9 to do such a thing..and if you can afford Leica lenses, then I’m sure you can pony up money for a Leica body. Maybe you should write Leica and ask them why you can’t use Samsung AF lenses on their M bodies. LOL
Nice review, Vlad! Samsung lent me an NX11 with 30/2 and 16/2.4 combo – I tried 20/2.8 as well. So far I’m impressed, esp with the pancakes. I have NEX-5 with M lenses adapted since Sony lenses are not that interesting. Looks like I will get myself an NX200 or NX20. I highly recommend NX system for lightweight setup, esp for travel.
I got myself a Fuji X10 for now because I don`t want to lug lenses around for street, but for the more pretentious shooter my set-up would be NX200 + 16mm + 30mm (or 35/1.4 t.b.a) + 135mm/2 (t.b.a)
I`ve added some more samples and a full-rez archive…
The new 3″AMOLED screen is quite nice […] but overall it is a big step forward from the old LCD on NX11 / NX100
The NX200 has exactly the same 3″, 614k dot, AMOLED rear screen as the NX10, NX11 and NX100. The only camera that had a 230k dot LCD instead of AMOLED screen was the NX5.
I am interested in buying a mirror-less camera stepping up from point and shoot. I am confused; should I buy the Sony Nex5n, the Samsung NX 200, or wait till the Panasonic GX 1 comes out in a couple of weeks. I am strictly an amateur and chose these models because of picture quality, and all of the reviews are not out yet while the stores have specials on all.
Any advice from an expert?
Very nice review and an interesting camera with some potential. For fans of the 40-50mm fov, the NX200 with the 30mm f2.0 could make for a very interesting street shooter.
Samsung could hve easily been the king of the Sony NEX 5N Sony NEX 7 Fuji X100 Leica X1 class of full size sensors. The Raws have good ISO sensitivity.
Sony has 1 pancake and it is rated horribly. Fuji X100 has 1 fixed lens and sticky blade problems. Samsung has 3 pancakes that are excellent.
Problems: Raws are 50 megs. Only one in the world so large. Skin tones too pale. No EVF to connect to camera.
There`s no workaround the .RAW file size in the whole industry. The Nikon D3x 14bit uncompressed raw averages around 50Mb, due to 24Mp sensor. Nikon D800 14bit uncompressed RAW will average a wooping 80Mb. (36Mpixels sensor)
Even 60Mb/s memory cards will have a tough time keeping up with that. 🙂
Sorry, I don’t see this camera being king among those you mentioned.
Maybe colors can be tweeked, but here they are just awful. Also generally rendering is substandard IMHO.
PS. Vlad thanks for your review and your pictures which would otherwise have been compelling, but not with this camera.
Well I had a NX200 for a short bit the pictures were much better than Sony NEX. The Fuji X100 and Leica X1 have good skin tones.
This is a great review, thank you Vlad.
Thanks for the review. This little cam looks classy and I don’t doubt the built
quality, but the ‘pedestrian’ image quality, no ‘RAW’ bursts, no viewfinder and below
par monitor puts it off my list of choice for a high quality travel cam. There are better
small interchangeable lens cameras around without the insane file sizes.
I think there is potential in that system though.
The battery life seems like a deal breaker to me. I think I can live w/o a evf but prefer one. The lense selection looks really good. For those who have an X100, is it worth the upgrade and is your battery life better?
In the end, I’m still waiting to jump into my mirrorless system – holding out on Fuji rumors for a new system based on their X series. Here’s hoping at least. Looking forward to more reviews and more cameras in this class.
My NEX-5 also gives a similar battery life with its own lenses. When I switch to legacy lenses, however, I get about 2000 shots per battery. Autofocus makes all the difference.
Skin tones from my NX200 come out pale. Too white a face. I don’t see pink healthy skin tones, more like pale and slightly yellow faces. Olympus E-P3 E-PL3, Leica X1 , Fuji X100 have healthy skin tones. Tried to play around and in the Samsung Raw there is a filter called Old times (something like that) that gave warmer skin tones. Raw at 50megs took time. But it was not as bad as I thought. High ISO jpegs got into trouble with the NX200. Raws were able to keep up with the Sony NEX, but the NEX skin tones are truly awful orange and yellow.
So to date only the Fuji X100, Leica X1 have good skin tones.
If I were a doctor I’d be treating every one of the portraits in your review for anemia. Focus was good.
“For those who have an X100, is it worth the upgrade” – nope, it’s not, not at all.
wrong comment i replied to, sorry
It’s called the “white balance” setting. Try using it once in a while and you wont get orange yellow skin tones. LOL
Yellow orange skin tones? …It’s called | adjusting the white balance” dude.
I’ve always viewed Samsung and cheap and not really even worth looking at. I bought a TL500 mainly because it was a super deal compared to LX5, DLux. I think it probably is a step below those but it sure is nicer than I thought it would be. I love the swivel screen and pics are pretty nice. Seems the Samsung stuff is getting better so more competition is welcome.
“Good Artists Borrow, Great Artists Steal”
It looks great. I am just disgusted with Samsung’s brazen rip-offs. That’s why they are being sued by everyone with a lawyer. No originality.
A camera that looks just like the NEX called the NX?
A camera that looks just like the X1 called the X100?
Fuji and Samsung make great stuff, and Fuji was a original with that brilliant viewfinder, but you can’t help but feel bad for whichever guy at Leica and Sony went through years and hundreds of thousands of dollars of college design training, created models and had tons of creative insights, just to be ripped off completely by some other company with no original thought.
Products like this make me want to spend more money with companies like Apple and Leica. More power to them. Some people contribute to this world to everyone’s benefit, others just steal to the detriment of all.
Keep in mind the NX cameras were announced and came out before Sony NEX cameras so your criticisim is back to front in this case, as for the styling of the NX200 have a look at the many years old design of the Samsung NV11 and you will see that there has been essentially no ripping off by Samsung relating to the design or branding of this camera
NX200 design is actually based on NV-7 OPS (which is 5 years old compact camera from them). They didnt steal anything.
I didn’t know that Sony invented the camera.
Vlad, thanks so much for your interesting and helpful review.
I own and use the NX10 since early 2010 and must say that it is a very capable camera and, in my humble opinion, totally underrated in almost all aspects.
(On a side note: I was a little disappointed that Steve never reviewed this camera.)
The NX10 was the first model and already has a gorgeous AMOLED display, so I guess Samsung had to reduce cost when they used a LED display for the NX5 (and 11?).
If I had to pick one lens only, it would be the 30/2.0 pancake, which really is amazing. Small and tack sharp and very versatile (it equals a 45mm lens on full frame).
Now even though your review with the high-res pictures was very impressive, I will (most likely) not buy the NX200…. because I am waiting for the NX20 to be released some time next year with very similar (or even better) specs than the NX200. I do use the EVF of the NX10 regularly, so this is an important feature for me and I expect Samsung to deliver something much better than with the previous model.
One reader asked about the option to use Leica M lenses on the NX system… well, much to my regret, this is not possible as the NX mount has too large a distance to the sensor, the M lenses would need to be closer.
But there are adaptors for legacy Leica R lenses.
Unfortunately, Samsung does not have an adequate focusing aid (like Sony or Ricoh) for manual lenses to make this an enjoyable experience.
Again, thanks for the review and Steve, thanks for posting it.
NX20 will (probably) have the same specs sensor and processor wise. Maybe a slightly tweaked firmware.
The Samsung NX is pitching their lenses to the customers, and we probably won`t see other types of lens adapters, besides the Pentax K Mount. And I don`t blame them, if they keep on releasing good lenses (like the 16, or 30mm f/2 or the 60mm f/2.8), it will be the better choice in detriment to Manual Focus lenses, even if they are Leica 21/1.4 or 50/0.95. 🙂
Agreed that Samsung seems to have really nailed their lens lineup so far. That being said, they could have still designed their mount to have a few more millimeters, so that they’d open their system up to more manual lens users. I’m not sure that Sony intended it or not, but they’ve had a quite a bit of success from manual lens users, and they even promote it, now.
Is Samsung actually manufacturing their lenses for the NX or are they buying them from another manufacture, and if so, do you know who? I am a long time Leica, Canon and Nikon believer and am concerned about the quality of these lenses.
Yes Christian. It´s very hard to understand why Samsung made it impossible to use M mount adapter just like NEXes. Few milimitters difference would make thousands of screw and m mount lens owners very happy. After all Schneider made famous Super angulons for Leica.
i rather have cheaper, smaller, pancake, high quality lens then having the option of mounting m-lens
There’s no reason we couldn’t have had both.
Maybe there is… Sony does not.
Or unhappy because closer distance from glass to the sensor means problems with sharpness and vigneting.
IMO Sony did constructon mistake – look for quality 16/2,8…..
It is not so simple as you think…
Not sure if it’s common knowledge, but hit OK when focusing with a manual lens and voila! Focus zoom.
TIP: NX100 can be had for less money than a point and shoot (even with an EVF). Great second camera and will last until the NX300, at which point Samsung will have got it almost 100% right (especially that processing lag). Sony, Panasonic and other mirrorless makers should be very worried.
ps. the 20-50mm is just about the best kit lens out there – brilliant for street – shame it’s a bit slow, but hey, it’s a zoom.
Cool looking camera and great lens line up. It’s a shame that Samsung removed the smart accessory part from the NX100, because an EVF would be necessary for me with this new model.
Forgot to add, some kind of tilt screen would have maybe been enough, but no tilt screen or EVF makes it a no go for many of us.
After testing it side by side with a Nex 5N, I do admit a tilt screen would have been welcomed…
Yeah, it was a strange choice by Samsung. I don’t know many enthusiasts who hold their mirrorless camera out in front of their face. It’s usually either at a lower angle with the tilt LCD or up to the eye with an EVF.
p.s. thanks for the review!
Count me in as one of the mirrorless users who hold the cam out in front of my face sometimes 😉
I wouldn’t discount the NX200 for that reason alone… this looks like an interesting camera!
I currently shoot with a Canon G10 after selling off my film SLR’s. I have gotten used to shooting with the camera in front of me using the screen exclusively for composing and now can’t stand a viewfinder!!
Does Samsung have any plan to introduce a camera with a built-in viewfinder, or do we forever have to pay extra to get one?
Samsung NX5, 10 and 11 have very nice oled viewfinder so they will probably intrduce nx20 or whatever might be the name with a built-in viewfinder in the near future.
Thanks for the review Vlad, looks like a nice camera, I’m leaning towards nex 5N only because of more mature video mode but in terms of IQ samsung seems at least equal
There’s no EVF for NX200
…and therefore I cannot take the system seriously. Please.
It has a lot going for it…but with no optional viewfinder it is useless in my world.
Good review, though….and Steve loves to get the tech out in front of us…so the awareness is good to have!
First of all thank you for this fine review,
second, i have to agree that NX line is vey mature – personally its better then anything out there because my fav focal lenths are the 16,30mm which are small high quality but cheap lens in the format,
Third – i assume you have access to NEX-5 with leica lens, ~90% of this forum readers would LOVE to hear your comparison to the NEX (as it uses same sensor size)
the first model that came out was NX10, then NX5 came out only after (or with) the NX100