Samsung NX200 review - Quality

Quality

Samsung NX200 vs Sony NEX-5N

 

To compare real-life performance, I shot this scene with the Samsung NX200 and the Sony Alpha NEX-5N within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings.The kit lenses on both cameras were set to an equivalent field of view and both were set to Aperture Priority exposure mode.

The sensitivity was manually set to 100 ISO on each camera.

Samsung NX200 results
1Samsung NX200 Quality
2Samsung NX200 RAW vs JPEG
3Samsung NX200 Noise
5Samsung NX200 Sample images

The image above was taken with the Samsung NX200 with the 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 OIS kit lens. The lens was set to its maximum wide angle position at 18mm. With an Aperture of f5.6 the NX200 metered an exposure of 1/500 at 100 ISO. The original Extra fine JPEG image size was 8.95MB. The crops are taken from the areas marked with red squares and presented here at 100%.

To provide an equivalent field of view, the Sony NEX-5N’s kit len was zoomed in a fraction. The NEX-5N metered 1/1250 at f5.6, but the +1.3EV compensation necessary to produce an exposure equivalent to that metered by the NX200 produced a lighter, overexposed result. To produce results on the two cameras that matched closely both visually and on their respective histograms I applied 0.7EV exposure compensation to the NEX-5N resulting in an exposure of 1/800 at f5.6.

For this tripod-mounted test, stabilisation was disabled and contrast enhancement on both cameras was left on the default settings – Smart range off on the NX200 and auto DRO on the NEX-5N.

Overall, the results from the NX200 are very promising. The exposure is nicely balanced with detail throughout the tonal range and colours are natural and well saturated. At first glance the detail in the crops looks sharp and well resolved. The first crop provides a good overview of the NX200’s ability to render fine detail and any shortcomings that might arise as a result of its JPEG processing. At first glance it looks nice and crisp with plenty of fine detail and on closer examination there’s nothing to change that view. The first thing to look for in this crop is the fine lines – the doors and windows in the chapel, the top edge of the wall, and the crosses on the roof, here they’re all crisp with no halos. Next take a look at the detail in the grass and rocky outcrops on the hill. Again there’s plenty of fine detail here and you can also see quite a bit of detail in the stonework of the chapel walls. The only negative, and it’s a minor one, is that the blue sky looks a little bit textured.

The second crop is equally impressive. What we’re looking for here is a cleanly resolved lighthouse, which we’ve got; you can even differentiate between the white column and the lamp house on top. There’s also a good deal of detail in the island as well as the cliffs beyond. In the middle and foreground of the shot the chimneys, window frames and roof details are very crsiply rendered, though, once again, the sky in this crop looks a tiny bit noisy.

In the third crop from the extreme edge of the frame there’s the merest hint of red fringing, but you have to look hard to spot it. The detail in the brickwork here looks to be as crisp and clear as in the middle of the frame from where the fourth and final crop is taken. As everywhere else the edge detail here is extermely crisp with not a hint of softness, if anything, the opposite is the case. Of all the crops this one from the centre of the frame which has lots of fine elements looks a little harsh and over sharpened. Overall though, the NX200 image quality is remarkably good and the in-camera JPEGs are crisp and punchy with bags of detail.

Compared with the crops from the Sony NEX-5N there’s no question that the NX200 crops are sharper. Some of this will be down to in-camera processing of the RAW data, but the NX200 crops look to have more detail too. You’ve got to take your hat off to Samsung, the new 20.3 Megapixel sensor and kit lens combination produces results that compare very favourably with Sony’s NEX-5N.

Now check out my NX200 RAW vs JPEG results on the next page or see how these models compare at higher sensitivities in my NX200 Noise results.

Samsung NX200 with 18-55 f3.5-5.6 OIS
Sony NEX-5N with 18-55 f3.5-5.6 OSS
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO

 


Samsung NX200 results : Quality / RAW vs JPEG / Noise

Samsung NX200 JPEG vs RAW

 

To compare real-life performance between RAW and JPEG files on the Samsung NX200, I shot this scene in the camera’s RAW+JPEG mode.

The sensitivity was set to 100 ISO and the aperture to f5.6.

The JPEG was processed using the in-camera defaults, while the RAW file was processed using Samsung’s RAW Converter 4 application which is powered by Silkypix Developer Studio 4.

Samsung NX200 results
1Samsung NX200 Quality
2Samsung NX200 RAW vs JPEG
3Samsung NX200 Noise
5Samsung NX200 Sample images

Comparing the crops below it’s clear that the in-camera JPEGs are more contrasty and sharper than the results from Samsung RAW Converter 4 using the default settings, good news if the punchy consumer-friendly JPEG output from the NX200 is a little to harsh for your liking. Personally, I like the NX200 JPEGs and I think they provide the right balance for general purpose shooting, but operating at higher ISO sensitivities it’s good to know that you have the option of producing a slightly softer result.

The Samsung RAW Converter default settings apply demosiac sharpening of 80 and the ‘Normal’ preset for output sharpening with ‘average’ contrast, so there’s plenty of scope to tweak the RAW file and produce a result that’s closer to the in-camera processing as well as the opportunity to improve a little on the noise at mid range ISO sensitivities.

The other interesting thing is the degree of colour fringing on the fourth crop which shows that the 18-55 kit lens is by no means perfect when it comes to chromatic aberration which is corrected in-camera on the JPEGs. This is also easily corrected in RAW converter 4.

Now let’s see how they compare at higher sensitivities in my NX200 noise results.

 

Samsung NX200
(JPEG using in-camera defaults)
Samsung NX200
(RAW using Samsung RAW converter 4)
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO

 


Samsung NX200 results : Quality / RAW vs JPEG / Noise
/ Handheld Twilight

Samsung NX200 vs Sony Alpha NEX-5N Noise

Samsung NX200 results
1Samsung NX200 Quality
2Samsung NX200 RAW vs JPEG
3Samsung NX200 Noise
5Samsung NX200 Sample images

To compare noise levels under real-life conditions I shot this scene with the Samsung NX200 and the Sony NEX-5N within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.The cameras were set to f5.6 in Aperture priority mode, the lenses were set to the same field of view and the ISO sensitivity was set manually.

 

The above shot was taken with the Samsung NX200 with the 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 OIS II kit lens attached. The lens was set to its maximum 18mm wide angle position. For these tests the camera was placed on a tripod and image stabilisation and tonal adjustments were disabled. The NX200 metered an exposure of 1/4 at f5.6 at 100 ISO. The 18-55mm kit lens on the Sony NEX-5N was zoomed in fractionally to give an equivalent field of view. It was also set to f5.6 in Aperture priority mode and the exposure was adjusted by +0.3 EV to deliver the same exposure. For these tests DRO on the NEX-5N was turned off.

The 100 ISO crop from the NX200 will hold no surprises if you’ve already seen the outdoor test crops. Noise isn’t entirely absent, there’s a slight texture in the cream coloured wall, but you have to look hard to spot it. It’s often the case that there’s little to tell between 100 and 200 ISO crops, even on compact cameras with smaller sensors, but that’s not the case with the NX200. There’s visibly more noise in the 200 ISO crop, though, again, you won’t notice it unless you’re paying close attention at 100 percent. Look in the slight shadow on the wall between the arch on the right and the memorial plaque on the left.

At 400 ISO the noise ramps up by about the same degree and it’s not quite so difficult to spot – though you still need to be looking at 100 percent to see it. The fine detail is already beginning to be affected through – and you can see the text is looking a little bit rougher in this crop. At 800 ISO there’s no argument, this is a noisy image. The noise isn’t too intrusive though and although a little bit of colour noise is starting to creep in it still looks reasonably good if a little bitty.

You can’t say the same thing about the 1600 ISO crop though. The colour noise is now quite severe and small to medium sized detail is being obscured – you can still read the text, but only just. On most recent model cameras with an APS-C sized sensor the 1600 ISO senstivity would be regarded as part of the usable ISO range. You wouldn’t expect the quality to be as good as the lower sensitivity settings, but you might reasonable expect to, say, make a large print from a 1600 ISO shot with good results. The NX200 is borderline in this respect though. And at 3200 ISO the question is put beyond all doubt.

To summarize, while the NX200 produced excellent results at its base 100 ISO sensitivity setting there’s a linear increase in noise with every stop increase in sensitivity and at 1600 ISO this cumulative effect is visible at less than 100 percent view.

The NX200 crops make interesting viewing alongside those from the Sony NEX-5N. Even at 100 ISO the Sony crop looks cleaner with no evidence of noise whatsoever. The NEX-5N crops are slightly softer, so the text isn’t quite as legible but while the Sony crops get a little bit noisier from 100 to 400 ISO it’s very marginal. In fact the incremental increases in noise in the Sony crops is so slight that you have to go all the way to 6400 ISO before the noise reaches the same levels as in the 1600 ISO crop from the NX200. The evidence is pretty clear, if you’re looking for quality throughout the ISO range the NEX-5N is the better choice. Bear in mind too that as well as excellent high ISO performance the NEX-5N offers the Hand-held Twilight stacking mode which produces even better results, albeit with automatically selected ISO sensitivity.

Now head over to my NX200 sample images to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions.

 

Samsung NX200 (JPEG using in-camera defaults) with 18-55 OIS
Sony NEX-5N (JPEG using in-camera defaults) with 18-55mm OSS
100 ISO
100 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
12800 ISO
12800 ISO
25600 ISO Not available
25600 ISO

Samsung NX200 results : Quality / RAW vs JPEG / Noise
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