A long term NX200 review
You can find plenty of numbers, measures and parameters in ordinary NX200 review but this article is different. I’ve been using this camera for 15 months since I decided to buy it until I got its younger brother, the Samsung NX300. I want to share my personal long term experience with this machine. I’ll tell you what I liked about this camera and what I didn’t. I took many photos which I am very happy with and you can see them here.
Why did I buy NX200 ?
Well, I think at first I should answer the question why I didn’t buy some cheap Nikon or Canon DSLR which is a classic choice for beginner photographers. In my case it was a very simple decision. I’ve never wanted to carry enormous and ugly camera anywhere I go. In my opinion, your camera should be ready to go with you everywhere you want and should not cumber. Also I hate using viewfinder. I prefer a good display instead.
Then the harder part comes. I was about to choose from mirrorless systems on the market. I had several options. There were Olympus / Panasonic m4/3 system, Nikon 1, Sony NEX and Samsung NX. I knocked the Nikon 1 out because of it very small sensor. Also m4/3 went out because of similar reason. So at the end, my choice was between NEX and NX which both use large APS-C sensor (1.5x crop).
Because of my quite low budget (600€) and better lens portfolio, the Samsung NX system won. I was lucky to get a NX200 set with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens, 30mm f/2 prime lens and external flash SEF20A. For the same price I could get Sony NEX-5 with only 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens so my choice was obvious.
Tiny, lightweight but robust body, good build quality, simple and well-arranged menu and very small dimensions especially with pancake lens. My first impression was very good.
My first shots were taken as JPEGs. I liked the images but they were a bit undersaturated. It is possible to change scene settings to be more colorful but I wanted more. That was the reason why I started to experiment with RAW soon as my friend has recommended it to me. That gave me a lot of possibilities to work with photos and get maximum of them. Not just the colors but also working with dynamic range for correction of highlights or shadows and many other.
Also I was a bit surprised with the 20 megapixel resolution. I was afraid that it is only marketing and photos will be too noisy because of that. Despite of it, noise is OK when pictures are still usable up to ISO 1600 and sometimes even at ISO 3200. I enjoy the amount of details that the 20 mpix sensor can provide. You can use very hard crop and details are still there. I didn’t enclose my photos from NX200 into this NX200 review but you can see them in my gallery / slideshow up on this page.
I like the ergonomy of this camera. It holds very comfortable and all buttons are in range of your fingers. Some people may need a short time to get used to this camera but every change of settings can be done very easily and fast. Also I love how manual focusing is done. When using manual focus with automatic lenses, the screen automatically zooms to focus point immediately as you move with focus ring. With using manual lenses, you just press OK and screen zooms in. As you half-press the shutter, image zooms out and you can see whole scene. That is the way how you can focus very accurate and fast and I’ve been using this a lot. The only thing that I didn’t like was the main rotary chooser which was difficult to move when your hands got a bit steamy. Anything else is very good and I don’t see much space to improve. Also the iFn button on some NX lenses gives you even more options how to quickly set or change settings. I don’t use it much but many people like it.
As I mentioned before, the menu is very simple and ergonomy is very good. That allows you to keep everything under control, work fast and change settings very quickly. The camera is really very quick when shooting in JPEGs. The situation is a bit different when shooting in RAW. The files were very large (about 50MB per each) so it took quite a long time to write files on a card (especially when using a slow one). Also the bad thing was that you could take another pictures while the camera was writing on a card but you could not change any settings during it. If you tried, you saw just “processing“ on the display and needed to wait until all files were written. Fortunately Samsung is releasing new firmwares quite often and they really improve things. Now the RAW files are about 30MB large which is a very nice improvement. Situation gets even better in combination with some fast SD card. This imperfection can slow you down in some cases but I think it’s all just a question of practice. Once you get used to working with this camera, you probably would not want to use anything else.
A standard battery life of this camera was about 350-400 photos in most cases. That’s quite a lot for this kind of cameras but I bought a substitute for it (about $10 from ebay). Thanks to that I was always absolutely sure that I won’t miss any moment because of dead battery. What I don’t like on the battery is its indicator. It shows 100% battery most of time and when it starts to show less than 100%, you should prepare yourself because that means that the battery is almost dead.
Lenses and equipment
As I keep low budget for my photographic equipment, I used just 3 different lenses and one macro adapter.
At first it is the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom kit lens. It’s a universal lens with very useful focal lengths. I love to use it for trips, excursions and sightseeing tours.
Then there is my favorite – the 30mm f/2 pancake lens. I used this lens the most because of its small dimensions, large aperture and excellent sharpness. 30mm is an ideal focal distance for many purposes. Also a huge amount of light can pass through aperture of f/2 what makes this lens a very good option for low light shooting. I need to mention very nice bokeh as well. I used this lens for night city walks, interior actions, artistic photography and for everything else where I needed just a small camera.
I also bought Samyang / Rokinon 85mm f1.4 manual focus lens. It’s quite heavy and large piece of glass and has only manual way of focusing, but in combination with NX200 it’s an excellent choice. Don’t need to mention its low cost. Focusing wasn’t a huge problem because the camera has a very good MF assistant. Once you get usage you won’t see manual focusing as a disadvantage as it produces wonderful images. I used it for portraits, night photography, artistic purposes and many other. Anyway if money is not problem, I recommend the Samsung 85mm f1.4 NX lens.
For macro shooting I use Raynox DCR-150 macro adapter which can be easily mounted on all of my lenses. I use it with 30mm and 85mm lens. I can get closer to subjects and take nice macro shots. It’s a good substitute but I want to buy the Samsung 60mm f2.8 macro lens.
As I flash I have two options. Standard SEF8A which I used once and the SEF20A which is more powerful and more useful. I use it for shooting in interiors or product photography.
After 15 months of using NX200 I can honestly say that this camera completely fulfilled my expectations. As everywhere, some place for improvement can be found but that isn’t so important as this camera has so many pros and just few cons.
The most essential for me are the results and I am very satisfied with them. I created many remembrances for me, my family and my friends and also many objects of art that can warm not only my heart.
If I could get back in time when I was deciding which camera to buy, I would definitely buy the NX200 again because I was very happy with it.
Pros & Cons
large APS-C size sensor (1.5x crop)
number of available lenses
quality of available lenses
dimensions of available lenses (pancakes)
very good OLED display
very good build quality
very good image quality (comparable with DSLRs)
good low light performance (comparable with DSLRs)
superb manual focus assistance
7fps continuous shooting
Full HD video with ability of full manual control
slow/fast-motion video modes
simple and well-arranged menu
large RAW files
disability of changing settings while writing on card
rotary chooser could be better
JPEG engine could be better
battery indicator could be more accurate