NV100HD takes compact camera resolution to giddy heights

NV100HD takes compact camera resolution to giddy heights

Not many cameras in this class offer the combination of 14.7MP resolution images, 1280x720p video, ease of use, a clear and bright touchscreen and a reasonable price of $599. The 28mm wide angle Schneider-Kreuznach lens and the range of scene modes available are also selling points.

Available in four colours, our review model was all black metal and plastic, highlighted with blue backlighting around the power button and a matching blue metal ring around the base of the lens.

The NV100HD is slimline enough for the carry bag at 95x60x20mm, and is fairly light at about 140 grams.

The three-inch LCD touch screen fills most of the rear of the unit, joined only by a small area to the right that houses Zoom, Menu and Playback keys.

The positioning of the flash is odd. It sits where your index finger would normally rest when holding a camera and pops up when in use.

With the touchscreen doubling as the viewfinder, there’s potential for fingerprints to spoil your view when trying to compose a shot. However, at 460,000 pixels the screen is bright and clear enough to overcome this.

If you’re in manual shooting mode, one tap on the screen will display most icons needed to make setting adjustments. The icons were responsive, but could be hard for those with large fingers to touch accurately.

The touch screen is far more effective than the Smart Touch keys, which ran along the bottom of the screen in previous Samsung compact cameras. To reveal the purpose of the Smart Touch keys, users had to first run their finger along them.

Still images reproduce colour strongly, with good saturation and natural skin tones. If you’ve got ugly friends to photograph, there’s a Beauty Shot mode Samsung says will make skin look smoother and brighter. However, shots tend to look more vivid on the camera screen, than when you display them on your PC.

There are seven white balance options, to help ensure your images come out well under most lighting conditions.

Lower ISO settings didn’t produce any image quality problems, but noise is particularly evident when the ISO is set to 800 or more. 3200 is the maximum ISO setting, allowing for 3MP shots.

The NV100HD’s video mode leaves a little to be desired. The 720p resolution falls short of full 1080p resolution (which admittedly isn’t available on most compact digicams), while video lags and becomes jerky if the camera is moved too quickly while filming.

In addition, an HDMI cable has to be bought separately and the supplied external cradle is required to connect the unit to a high def TV. The cradle doubles as a charger for the camera, though it can also be charged through mains power. A memory card (MMC, SD up to 4GB or SDHC up to 8GB) will also be an extra purchase. However, there’s 40MB of built-in memory.

Face detection and smile detection, now common to many digital cameras, has been extended to include blink detection with this model. You have to wonder if future versions will detect wrinkles which need botox.

The range of shooting scenes seems to be constantly increasing on compact cameras and Samsung’s offering is no exception. However, it’s missing some of the options found on other models, such as taking shots through glass, or creating small images for placing on online auction sites.

For users who prefer to edit images on the camera rather than use software, there are a variety of adjustment options and effects that can be utilised.

With dual image stabilisation (optical and digital), users with shaky hands won’t need to be concerned when using this unit.

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