Samsung NX200 review - Part 6 Landscape / Location camera

Samsung NX200 18-55mm zoom
All pictures - Samsung NX200 18-55mm zoom

For me the Samsung NX200 will be almost exclusively a landscape / location / travel camera.  Because of its excellent sensor and overall small size and light weight, it works very well for the long walks I undertake in search of my stock photographs. Having struggled a few weeks ago carrying Nikon DSLR's around, this will be a godsend. To have this kind of quality in such a convenient form is something I could only have dreamed about a year or two ago.

Samsung NX200 18-55mm zoom

I should mention at this point that if you are considering having a look at this camera, then try to find a kit that has the 18-55mm zoom lens. Not only does it have stabilisation built in, which is very handy for a camera you have to hold out in front of you, but from my experiences with the 20-50mm zoom (which doesn't have IS) this is a better quality lens. The 20-50mm I had with my NX100, was somewhat soft, and I couldn't get the files it produced much sharper in post production either.

Samsung NX200 18-55mm zoom

I like the 18-55mm very much however, and it confirms my feelings when I had one with a NX10, that its a very good "kit" lens indeed. I'm not planning to get other lenses for the camera at the moment. Firstly this zoom will cover the majority of what I need, and secondly (anybody from Samsung who's reading this please note!!) without a viewfinder there's actually no point. The 50-200mm zoom is a good lens, but its big and heavy, and there is no way that I'm going to have it waving around on the end of the NX200, without a viewfinder to help me get steady pictures. The 20mm and 30mm focal lengths are covered by the zoom, and I don't need large apertures for what I'm going to use it for. I also didn't see any quality advantage over the zoom when I had a 30mm f/2 before. 

This is somewhat dealing with issues that are important to me, but several things have always struck me as a relevant issue when manufacturers make these small cameras without viewfinders. Surely these companies want to sell lenses? Since Sony, Samsung and m4/3 all make some pretty "chunky" optics, do they really think that we all going to stick these on the end of these small cameras without a viewfinder? They are unwieldy, ugly and cause all sorts of problems. So are we supposed to just stick with the (somewhat limited) selection of "pancake" lenses that these companies produce? 

The Sony NEX-5, with its added EVF, handles lenses like the 18-200mm and the a-mount 16-50mm perfectly well, with a viewfinder. Without one I wouldn't even consider using either of those lenses on that camera. I also don't think I'm alone in this. Very early on Olympus came up with the VF-2, still a good EVF. You can use it on all Olympus cameras, including the compact XZ-1. Why on earth has this been beyond the abilities of Panasonic, Sony and Samsung. Sony have finally remedied the situation (if you can find one!) with their great OLED EVF, Panasonic have eventuully got round to improving the LVF1E and Samsung are ???. Certainly the one they released for the NX100 was pretty ordinary. Olympus aren't perfect in all respects, but they got this right.

Samsung NX200 18-55mm zoom

The NX200 fortunately handles reasonably well without an EVF, though yesterday when I took these pictures, it was very cold, just above freezing and I was struggling with it because I was wearing thick gloves. Small cameras and cold fingers don't go together that well either and I was constantly pressing things I shouldn't.

Samsung NX200 18-55mm zoom

Having got my customary "no viewfinder moan" out of the way, I must say that again, the NX200 produced some beautiful images. Despite all my reservations about the cameras design, it does produce great pictures. I would go so far as to say that this is probably the best sensor I've ever used for landscape photography. The combination of image size, sharpness, saturated colour and "clean" images is a revelation, and I will admit, an almost total surprise. 

I was thinking yesterday that the advances in sensor performance are coming from Sony, Panasonic, and now Samsung. All multi-product electronics companies. Many other manufacturers use sensors made by these three, and Canon are the only other one still doing everything in house, though they have been standing still for a while. Fuji have one great camera / sensor with the X100 but we need to see if they can produce something above their current 12MP limit. Before the NX200, I wouldn't have put Samsung up there in terms of sensor performance, but this is certainly an incredibly impressive piece of work.

Samsung NX200 18-55mm zoom

So another day with some gorgeous files to view at the end of it. I've already been uploading many of these images to picture library websites, and they have been received very well. Virtually 100% acceptance. 

So despite my misgivings about the cameras functionality, I have no complaints about its ability to produce high quality commercial images.

Samsung NX200 18-55mm zoom