Overall image quality is some of the best we’ve yet seen in a CSC and certainly on a par with what the APS-C equipped Sony models can achieve. The NEX200’s 20.1MP APS-C sensor is capable of delivering impressive amounts of fine detail – especially at lower ISO settings – as well as giving you plenty of license to crop your images post-capture.
Our review sample came fitted with the standard 20-50mm, f/3.5-5.6 kit zoom that comes bundled with the camera. While it does feel a bit plasticky, it’s more than capable of producing detailed images, with the edges and corners remaining as sharp as the centre – especially when the aperture is set to its sweet spot of around f/7. Chromatic aberrations are notably well controlled too, with few unsightly purple fringing on high contrast borders.
As with most digital cameras these days the NX200 features the ability to shape the look of your JPEG images with a series of Picture Wizard presets and custom slots. We tended to stick with the Standard setting for the majority of our test shots although there are no fewer than 11 other settings to choose from: Vivid, Portrait, Landscape, Forest, Retro, Cool, Calm, Classic, and three Custom slots. Within each of these settings it’s possible to tweak the colour, saturation, sharpness and contrast settings as you wish.
While images shot on the Standard setting do sometimes come out of the camera looking a little tonally flat, it does provide a very good starting point, especially if you’re shooting in Raw and prefer to bump things up yourself in editing software. If, on the other hand, you want richly saturated or deliberately flat images then the Picture Wizard controls will go a long way towards helping you achieve your desired look.
As well as Picture Wizard controls the NX200 offers a number of additional image tweaking controls including a Smart Range function that can be used to increase dynamic range by increasing highlight retention. Examining images the difference between having the feature switched on and off is actually quite subtle and you need to go looking for it, however as an APS-C camera the NX200’s dynamic range is pretty good anyway – noticeably better than that of small-sensor cameras in any case.
Of course, another advantage of the NX200’s APS-C sensor is the camera’s ability to attain a shallower depth of field than might otherwise be the case. This is particularly useful for portraits where you want to pull your subject out of the background.
Sensitivity is yet another area where image quality excels. We don’t mind admitting that prior to picking the camera up we did had some doubts over pixel density, however these largely proved to be unfounded. At lower sensitivity settings of between ISO 160 and ISO 400 noise isn’t visible at all in images, while at ISO 800 it’s only really noticeable when the image is viewed at 100% or more. At ISO 1600 some softening does occur and this is more pronounced at ISO 3200, although images still remain perfectly useable at smaller sizes. Beyond this the softening effects of the camera’s noise-reduction algorithms become noticeable even at smaller sizes, with ISO 12,800 also displaying an abundance of red chroma noise, making it practically unusable.
Samsung continues to impress us with its digital camera output. The NX200 builds quite significantly on the strengths of its predecessor to deliver punchy images bursting with detail. While the NX200’s higher than average resolution is likely to remain the headline-grabbing spec, the real selling point is overall image quality, which is undoubtedly a match for many DSLRs costing more money. Ergonomics, while sharp, clean and modern, could be a little more hand-friendly though. That said, if you’re looking for an APS-C equipped compact system camera then the NX200 delivers enough to warrant a place on your shortlist.