The NX200 could almost be a DSLR camera, with its giant image sensor and fat lenses. And it's priced like one $US900. It's not, since it doesn't have a mirror in its heart -- but it doesn't fit in your pocket like most other mirrorless cameras. HMM!
What Is It?
A mirrorless, interchangeable-lens camera with a big 20.3MP, APS-C-sized sensor. Oh, and the camera has a hefty $US900 price tag, although it's cheaper than the 24-megapixel Sony NEX-7.
Who's it For?
This camera is designed for experienced amateurs who want to step up their game to a compact, road-ready camera with great image quality and well-designed manual functions.
The NX200 has a tough magnesium alloy body with a bulge on the right side where the battery goes. It fits perfectly in the grip of your hand. That said, remember: big sensor, big lenses. The zoom lenses for this camera aren't collapsible, so the NX200 is not a pocketable camera, even if you have giant pockets.
People who know their way around cameras will love the design of the NX200, and newbies will find it confusing. The camera has snappy shutter performance and superfast drive, but the autofocus is slow.
The Best Part
Samsung's customisable iFn button is perfectly placed on the lens we tested, which makes it easy to toggle between key camera settings very quickly so you can concentrate on what's important: taking photos. Some of the other NX system lenses have an iFn button as well.
Even though the camera's sensor is capable of great things, sometimes you don't know what you're getting with this camera. The camera often makes improper exposure calculations in automatic and partially automatic modes. The metering and the autofocus can both be finicky.
This Is Weird...
There's a programmable custom button on the bottom right of the camera's body. That's great. Unfortunately, you can only map a few functions to it.
The camera's sensor performs well across the board, even in low-light conditions despite packing 20.1 megapixels onto an APS-C sensor. All of those tiny pixels could have killed the camera in darker conditions, but the photos remained relatively noise-free at ISO 800 and even sometimes at ISO 1600. Check out our samples gallery here.
• It's a good thing the camera's settings are so easy to access because you really need to tinker with them to get the kind of shot you want. This is not a beginner camera, and you better have some patience for metering, metering again, and switching between exposure modes to get the shot you want.
• The camera's shutter release is sensitive and has quick action. Very satisfying. It's nice that the camera will peel off up to 7 frames per second, but when you're shooting RAW, the camera chokes up in continuous mode very quickly.
• The NX200 records massive photos in Samsung's proprietary RAW format (SRW). Inexplicably massive. They're 50MB, which seems a little excessive considering we get 20MB CR2 files from our Canon 60D.
• The HD video quality is good, if you are shooting a relatively static scene. But as when you're shooting stills, there is a lag in the autofocus, so if your scene changes or your move the camera, you've got to wait for the camera to adjust.
• As long as you don't turn on the GPS (don't turn on the GPS) the camera gets great battery life. It never died in the field -- including during a week of near constant use at CES.
• The AMOLED LCD is absolutely gorgeous.
Should You Buy It?
No -- or I should say -- not yet. The camera has a spectacular sensor, its button design is almost perfect, and the menus are logical and displayed on a beautiful screen. Unfortunately, the camera has a serious learning curve. I really like to tinker and take my time when shooting photos so I've actually grown to love this camera, but it's not for everyone.
If Samsung irons out these performance issues and gets the file size on the photos down, the next NX system camera could be one of the best shooters in its class. Until then, the Sony NEX-5 and Panasonic GX1 are the best pro compacts under $US1000. Pick the NEX-5 if you care about low-light image quality. Pick the GX1 if you want a compact build and a brilliantly usable design.
Samsung NX200 Price: $900 RRP w/ 18-55mm zoom lens Sensor: 20.3MP, 23.5 x 15.7mm APS CMOS Sensor Image: Up to 5472 x 3648 Video: Up to 1920 x 1080/30p Screen: 614,000 dot, 3-inch AMOLED LCD