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Samsung NX200 : Essentials Review

Make-Up: Ioana Toma

Hi folks.
Long time no see.

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 NX5.

20Mpx

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.

[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.


ISO 100-12800

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.



Samsung iFn

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.

Smart Panel

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.

7 fps

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)
MOVIE
PANORAMA
SMART (the stupid-proof mode) (pre-focuses for you!)
SCENE
MAGIC (a bunch of goofy frames and software lomo conversion kits)
iMODE (SMART with the use of iFn button)

3. LENSES


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)

[Carry]

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)



[Omnia]

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.

[Optima]

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.


[Premium]

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:

  1. The green tint of the display it`s not as bad as you think but given enough time, it can be annoying.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. The kit flash is actually a small hot-shoe flash. Too easy to lose.
  6. 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.

If you`re in Romania, you can buy the kit and some lenses from F64. (kit)(30mmf/2)(50-200mm)

 

UPDATE:

There are MORE SAMPLES in the NEXT ENTRY !

1 Comment so far

  1. Pingback: Samsung NX200: Samples | vdodan / weblog

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