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Samsung NX200 review

Verdict

Stunning image quality at an amazing price, but it’s undermined by some irritating flaws

Review Date: 14 Mar 2012

Price when reviewed: £383 (£460 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
4 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
3 stars out of 6

Image Quality
5 stars out of 6

After a brief hiatus, it seems the old megapixel wars are back on in 2012. First came Sony with its NEX-7, and now Samsung has breached the 20-megapixel barrier. But while Sony’s compact stunner is affordable only to the wealthy gadget-obsessed, Samsung’s is firmly in consumer DLSR territory at less than £500.

At that sort of price, it’s never going to be as fully featured as the Sony, and so it proves. There’s no integrated viewfinder to match the NEX-7’s amazing 2,400kpixel effort, and no option yet to buy an add-on. The Samsung can’t match the Sony’s stratospheric 24.3-megapixel figure either, and there’s no image stabilisation onboard or in the 20-50mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens that came with our review sample.

The gap between the two cameras isn’t as yawning as the specifications and price might indicate, however. There’s no getting around the lack of viewfinder, which can be a problem in bright sunlight, and the NX200’s screen doesn’t fold out or swivel either. However, the quality of its 3in, 614kpixel AMOLED display is exceedingly good, and in most light we had no trouble composing shots.

Handling, too, is exceptional. The NX200 is a very compact camera with a body measuring a mere 25mm from front to back at its thinnest point. Despite its small size, it sits comfortably in the hand, with a large, gently curved grip and sensibly placed buttons and dials.

The controls are superbly responsive and intuitive, and the highlight is Samsung’s i-Function system. This allows you to click a button on the side of the lens barrel to cycle through various settings, and tweak the focus ring to change them. Depending on the mode you’re in, ISO and shutter speed, aperture, white balance and exposure compensation can all be adjusted in this way.

For lenses without the i-Function button, meanwhile, dials on the rear and the top of the camera allow shutter speed and aperture to be adjusted just as swiftly, and clicking the Fn button in Program offers quick, onscreen access to other settings such as white balance, metering and focus area modes.

Image quality is a highlight, too. In automatic mode, exposure and white balance were generally spot on, and the extra detail captured by the 20 megapixels was really noticeable over the 16-megapixel Sony Alpha SLT-A33 we used for comparison. In low light, the unstabilised kit lens that came on our review unit meant we had to use slightly slower shutter speeds, but upping the sensitivity didn’t have too detrimental an effect on noise levels. At ISO 3200, we found shots were perfectly usable, and even at ISO 6400 and ISO 12800 noise wasn’t horrendous. It’s a far cry from its predecessor, the NX100, whose poor performance in low light made shooting indoors without flash all but impossible.

And that lens is pretty good too, despite the lack of stabilisation. It’s the same pop-out unit that came with the NX100 when we reviewed it a year or so back, and it proved just as good: sharp across the frame, distortion-free at wide angle and with an impressively low incidence of chromatic aberration.

Performance, on the other hand, is middling. The NX200 will go from off to snapping its first shot in two seconds, but shot-to-shot time for RAW and JPEG files is a lengthy 1.6 seconds (it will only shoot four frames in RAW before the buffer fills up). There’s also a mode that captures 7fps for seven full-resolution RAW frames or 11 JPEG frames, which sounds impressive. However, the autofocus isn’t fast enough to keep up, and subjects moving towards the lens or away from it simply stop the NX200 in its tracks. Worse still, once the camera snaps a sequence of seven RAW shots, it then takes a further 39 seconds to process those photos, during which time it’s completely unresponsive to input.

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User comments

All of these cameras soon to be totally eclipsed by the Nokia Pure view 808 smartphone and it's 40mpix sensor.The sample pics of which seem very good.Now if the camera Manufacturers could take a leaf out of Nokias books and do 60 Mpix sensors with pixel binning tech combined with F1.4 lens and high ISO performance then you may well be able to get that illusive picture of the black cat in the Coal cellar. ;-)

By Jaberwocky on 17 Mar 2012

Megapixel Wars ?

Why would the average person want a 20 Mp camera? Or worse, an 80 Mp camera build into a phone? Is it a 'mine is bigger than yours' thing?
Squeezing more and more Mp on to a set size sensor doen't improve image quality and makes for lots of noise in low light conditions.
Oh, and one other thing you'll need to buy a new computer to download and store these huge files.
I can't think why anyone would want to go for more than 6-8Mp in a family camera. Unless of course people want to make A0 size prints.

By flashsalmo on 22 Mar 2012

' The 16 MP SLT-A33'

SLT-A33 is 14MP, not 16MP. The difference between 14MP and 20MP probably is noticeable (with a good enough lens) the difference between 16MP and 20MP is probably less so.

By kenfield3 on 22 Mar 2012

Non Starter

I didn't bother reading past the point which said 'no viewfinder'! No serious photographer would consider this camera for this fact alone.

By ronshep on 22 Mar 2012

FPS for me

I want a faster frames per second more than high megapixels.

If you've got fast moving and unpredictable kids you'll agree with me. Catching a shot of them doing something hilarious without and evil blur on their faces is all I want.

By nicomo on 22 Mar 2012

Mikesey

I am not fooled by this megapixel racket. Why would anyone want 20 megapixels unless they were going to make huge poster-sized images, or make large crops?
I have three cameras; two offer 12.1 megs, and the other only 5, yet consistently the camera (a Canon) with the lower megapixels gives the best pictures all round. It's not just about megapixels, it's about the lens and sensor size too.

By mikesey on 24 Mar 2012

Simply Great!

After looking at many Nx200 images taken by pro photographers the quality simply excels. The low cost was more than I could resist and what a joy to use.

By K0Warren on 2 Apr 2012

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