HandlingThe NX200 has a slightly different design to the NX100, with a look that's more subtle and more understated. The NX200 also has a deeper grip handle, which certainly helps you keep hold of the camera, even if the overall finish is still too smooth for our liking. There have been a few small changes to the camera's controls too—most notably, the exposure correction control has been replaced with a video record button. The AMOLED screen is lifted straight from the NX100, boasting wide viewing angles, deep, rich blacks and 614,000 dots for 640 x 480 pixel images. It now takes up most of the rear face of the camera, however, as the NX200 isn't as tall as the NX100. The electronic viewfinder connection port and the DISP button have been inevitable casualties of this reduction in size. All in all, the screen is pretty good, giving super-smooth onscreen images even when the light starts to fade. Colour fidelity isn't bad either.
Note too that the NX200 has no built-in flash, although Samsung seems to think that supplying a separate flash accessory makes up for that ...
The iFn control seen on certain Samsung lenses has been carried over onto the new models (16 mm f/2.4, 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6, 60 mm macro f/2.8 etc.), and offers direct access to settings including aperture, ISO and white balance. You can then change the setting selected using the focusing ring or the two settings wheels on the camera body. It's a simple and effective system, but we didn't find the thumb wheel on the top edge of the camera particularly practical or comfortable to use—it would have been much better placed on the front of the camera, on the grip handle, for example.
Like the previous model, the NX200 doesn't seem to have as much character as the Olympus Pen cameras or Sony's NEX range. In fact, we found the NX200 to be rather unexceptional in terms of its design and handling. Generally speaking, if you're going to spend £800 on a camera, you'd kind of hope it was is super-sleek and at least slightly original. Samsung will therefore need to create more of an identity for itself and its cameras if it hopes to make them stand out from the ever-growing crowd of mirrorless compacts.
The NX200 has a nice graphic interface with simple menus and an in-context help function (although it's not always that useful). On the whole, the NX200 is easy to get the hang of using, and the mode-selection dial on the top of the camera has options for all levels of user, from Auto mode, Scene mode and Special effects, to Video and P,A,S, M. The Fn button is pretty handy too, displaying an overview of the different settings selected onscreen so you can change them quickly and easily if need be.
ResponsivenessIs the Samsung NX200 a speedy little compact? Yes and no! In good light, the autofocus is fast, but it slows down as light levels drop (this was already a problem in previous models). For JPeg shots, the photo-to-photo turnaround of under a second is good, but switching to RAW + JPeg slows down the NX200 considerably. You can take a second shot before having to wait for the first one to save, but you can't adjust any settings in the meantime. The start-up time is fine but it could be a little tight if you're hoping to capture a fleeting moment. The JPeg continuous shooting mode snaps at 6.5 fps, which is isn't bad.
Picture QualityAs well as loading the NX200 with a new 20.3-Megapixel CMOS APS-C sensor, Samsung seems to have made real progress in controlling digital noise. Typically, shots taken between 100 and 400 ISO are sharp even when viewed at 100% on a computer screen, with just a slight amount of smoothing in finer details. At 800 and 1600 ISO pictures are still perfectly usable, as the very high resolution means that any graininess in the shots is very fine. In fact, at these settings, there's still enough detail for 8" x 12" prints (20 x 30 cm). You could even feasibly use the 3200 ISO setting as there's still just enough detail, but we wouldn't recommend going any higher—shots taken at 6400 and 12800 ISO look very heavily processed.
The 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS iFn kit lens is fine but nothing more, and the NX200's demanding pixel-packed sensor soon shows up its weaknesses. While at wide-angle settings, the edges of the frame look blurred and hazy, quality is more consistent across the frame at telephoto settings, with the whole frame looking sharp. Otherwise the NX200 image processing system corrects any geometric distortion caused by the lens effectively in JPeg mode.