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CNET First Look
Samsung NX200The Samsung NX200's photo quality stands out from the crowd, but its performance and features -- while good -- don't merit its relatively high price.
This is the Samsung NX200. With excellent photo quality, solid performance and a very nicely designed body, the NX200 distinguishes itself in an increasingly crowded field. But $900 still seems like a bit too much to ask for a camera that's not at the front of its class on all counts. Thankfully, there's more to the NX200 than just a 20 megapixel sensor. It's much better than its predecessor. It's smaller yet more comfortable to grip and it's more solidly built. For those unfamiliar with Samsung's i-function system, it consists of a button on lens which invoke shooting settings which you can then change using the manual focusing. The system works well and it feels much like you're shooting with the Canon PowerShot S100 or the Olympus XZ1. It also distinguishes the NX cameras from other interchangeable lens models in a way that adds to the shooting experience rather than to transform it. If you choose to go the traditional route, the camera's Smart panel, interactive control panel interface operates much more like a typical camera. It's easy to use but I found myself missing the type of customization controls that Panasonic's cameras offer over the interface, as well as the capability to save custom settings. You can program a roll override as well as which options pure on the i-function ring. But that's just not as much as I'd like. The camera really does produce excellent photos given its price tag of less than $1,000 combined with relatively clean images off the sensor. Its noise profile is very good. The color actually looks really good. Metering and exposure, generally both consistent and appropriate and the sensor handle's bright saturated color as well as long as you're willing to put in some work recovering highlights from the raw file. Blown out light colors don't fit quite as well though. There's no detail there. With the right lens, the camera delivers sharp images too. The 18 to 55 millimeter kit lens is typical. It's good enough with respect to sharpness and brightness to match competitors, believes you're craving for something better. The 85 millimeter F14 and the stabilized 60 millimeter F28 Primes produce lovely images and are sharp, bright and comfortable to use. The video and good light is very consumer friendly. It's bright, saturated and sharp and there's a little bit of Murray, l-easing and rolling shutter. But it's fine for personal videos. It doesn't fair as well at night though. There's just no tonal range to speak of. The camera has full manual exposure controls during movie recording and there's a multi-motion mode that records and plays back both faster and slower than normal. The slow-mo mode only works at reduced frame sizes though. It's biggest weakness is its image processing. And when reviewing photos, it's pretty good about displaying plain JPEGs. But if you shoot (Robles?) JPEG, it gets really bugged down. Initial models of the camera had some auto-focus speed and (actualizes?) the issues. But just before writing this Samsung released new firmware that seems to fix the problems I had during testing. It's now faster and more accurate. Furthermore, while the LOED display is bright with good contrast and it doesn't wash out in sunlight. It's very reflective. I really wish I had articulated or at at least tiltable display. The side that I have already mentioned, there aren't many stand-out shooting features. There's some novel effects but you can adjust the parameters. And if you use its magic frame which overly subs huge preset designs over your shot, it reduces the photo's resolution to 2 megapixels. With excellent photo quality, a nice shooting design and interface and solid performance, the NX200 makes a nice package. But it also means buying into a (low and well?) lens system without much third party support. And because image stabilization is in the lens rather in the sensor, your subject to Samsung's whims for OIS capable lenses. So that combined with the whole home feature set makes the camera's price seem overly high. I'm Lori Grunin and this is the Samsung NX200.