Big sensors in small cameras are undeniably the sexiest thing going in consumer photography nowadays, and today Samsung adds extra spice to that affair with its brand new NX200 compact system camera. It replaces the well-liked NX100 and improves on the earlier model's high specs with a 20-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, full 1080p video recording at 30fps, and even more minimal physical proportions (116.5 x 62.5 x 36.2mm for the body only). In the gallery after the break, you'll find the NX200 makes its predecessor look overly ornamental and, frankly, too big for what it does. Guess that's just the price we pay for such breakneck progress -- even recent hardware isn't immune from being embarrassed by a young upstart.
We've also recorded a selection of low-light sample images and a 1080p video clip, where you can see the NX200's performance when allied to Samsung's new 18-200mm lens -- which should be of interest in itself to users of NX mount-compatible cameras, its big zoom range is complemented by optical image stabilization and i-Function capabilities. Click past the break for those sample images, along with some early impressions about the design, handling, and portability of Samsung's NX200.
One of the big attractions of the original NX100 was Samsung's introduction of i-Function lens functionality. Pressing the i-Fn button on the side of a compatible lens turned its manual focus ring into a control knob for commonly accessed camera settings. Aperture, shutter, ISO, and EV parameters could all be tweaked through the focus ring, with the overall effect being a sharp reduction in the menu maze exploration that typically holds cameras in this size range back. The NX200 expands on what users can do with i-Function through the addition of some extra settings, but the important news around its launch are the addition of four more i-Function lenses, taking the tally to nine, and the fact that the old utility is still very much present in the new camera.
The NX200 also has a more pronounced right-hand grip than its forebear, offering very good ergonomics for extended use. Testing it with the 18-200mm lens provided a perfect test for this hypothesis, as it's by far the biggest and heaviest NX mount lens you can strap on to the camera. I spent about an hour walking around and shooting with the two paired together and encountered no issues.
An autofocus assist lamp comes on when lighting is insufficient for the NX200, however it's positioned pretty poorly; my right middle finger was often in its way and the same will be true for most people -- if you hold this camera in a natural way, you'll be obscuring its AF assist light more often not. There's no built-in flash, you'll have to obtain a separate attachment. The 3-inch AMOLED screen is bright and informative, though we suspect it'll have its struggles in brighter environments.
All in all, Samsung has bettered the NX100 in almost all respects and has given those intrigued by Sony's recently unveiled NEX-7 a viable alternative to look into.