Samsung NX200 review - Part 8 Customisation

Samsung NX200 18-55mm zoom

The NX200 complete with Voigtlander 15-35mm zoom viewfinder and a modified Leica M9 case. As per usual I'm keen to make to make any modification to a camera, if I can, in order to make it handle better. The Voigtlander viewfinder is a partial solution only, since it only works for the 28mm > 35mm equivalent focal lengths on the NX200. i.e. 18-24mm. To that end it actually works pretty well. I found that I can use it while still keeping half an eye on the screen to check that its focusing on the right thing. Anything other than a wide-angle shot has to be live viewed obviously. Not ideal, but it at least gives me some opportunity to use the camera in the way that I like.

Samsung NX200 18-55mm zoom
 
 Once again I was very impressed with the results from the camera, which is why I go through all this (expensive!) nonsense in trying to make it something that its not. Why bother? you might ask. Well, to me using a viewfinder concentrates the mind. When I take a picture I like to eliminate everything else from my vision. Take out all the distractions and just see the image. I also check all the corners to see that I'm not getting anything in shot that detracts from the overall impact. A viewfinder allows me to do that, whereas live view doesn't. In addition to this, a viewfinder eliminates the problem of sunlight shining on the live view screen and also helps stabilise the camera when its braced against my face.

Some manufacturers try to make out that live view screens are preferred by younger (therefore more modern) photographers and that viewfinders are preferred by "traditional" or "older" (and therefore old-fashioned) photographers. This is of course a con. No viewfinder means the camera is cheaper and easier to produce. It comes from point and shoot compacts. Its nothing to do with age or style or fashion, its just cost cutting. When live view first appeared, I thought this is great, now there are ways to deal with all shooting situations, since using a viewfinder is very difficult for low angle shots and tricky angles. However I imagined that on serious cameras both alternatives would be present. It seems I was wrong!

The Samsung NX200 is most definitely a serious picture taking machine. The images it produces are stunning. At this current moment in time you can only buy one APS-C sensor camera that has a higher pixel count, the Sony a77. Its only 1MP short of what the top of the range Canon full-frame cameras produce, and at lower ISO's it surpasses the quality of those cameras as far as I'm concerned. Personally I'd much rather have the output from the NX200 than the 5D MkII I used to own. The Samsung produces sharper images with better colour for the majority of images that I take, and though cameras like the 5D MKII are terrific at high ISO shooting, I do that so rarely that the NX200 suits me much better.

So yet again I'm moaning about the lack of a viewfinder on this camera, and I make no apologies for it. For me its fundamental for a serious, high quality camera to offer alternatives to photographers. I am really at a loss to understand why Samsung have chosen to handicap their best camera in terms of options for picture taking. Why on earth they didn't allow the option of an add-on viewfinder is something I have difficulty in understanding. And yes I've said this before several times, and I'll be saying it again and again!!

Samsung NX200 18-55mm zoom

So why do I bang on about this? Well this is why.

Samsung NX200 18-55mm zoom

Samsung NX200 18-55mm zoom

Samsung NX200 18-55mm zoom

Samsung NX200 18-55mm zoom

Samsung NX200 18-55mm zoom

Samsung NX200 18-55mm zoom

Samsung NX200 18-55mm zoom

Samsung NX200 18-55mm zoom

Samsung NX200 18-55mm zoom

The NX200 has a great sensor, and yes its the best I've ever used. I prefer it to a Leica M9, Sony NEX-5n, Sony a77 and all m4/3 cameras I've used.  Its the best because it produces sharp, clean images with beautiful colour that are capable of large scale reproduction. The images show very few, if any,  problems of CA, fringing, moire, luminance noise or dust spots at the ISO's and apertures I mostly use. No, its not the worlds new "wonder sensor" and for many it won't be any use at all, but for me in terms of image quality and results its almost perfect.

The camera is another matter. While I appreciate the simplicity of its layout and the ease of operation, for me what defines it is more about what it doesn't have than what it does. Apart from the viewfinder issue, there is no exposure lock. How difficult and expensive is it to add one of those? This camera is like a Nissan Micra with a Formula One engine in it. In that case the lack of a suitable body to handle the power inhibits performance, and thats exactly how I see the NX200. As I said before. I'll put up with it and use whatever I can to make it work better for me, but I'm constantly frustrated by what I see as Samsungs lack of ambition and imagination, and inability to see this camera as a wonderful opportunity to establish themselves as a serious contender in the CSC market.