First Looks: Samsung NV10

Capture in Style

Capture in Style

The 10-megapixel camera race is on and we are not just referring about the big bulky DSLR variants. There are already several 10-megapixel compact digital cameras in the market and our feature today is one of these little powerhouses that you can carry conveniently in your pockets. From the manufacturer that has brought us several award-winning TVs and mobile phones, comes something new and exciting. Samsung might be lesser known for making cameras, but this paradigm is going to change with their new NV series. Focusing on retro designs, their new compact digital cameras are definitely going to create a big wave. For starters, lets us take a closer look at Samsung’s first attempt at a 10.1-megapixel digital camera, the NV10.

The Retro-fever Begins

No matter how you look at it, the NV10 is sexy and handsome in its own way. Only available in black, the NV10's most seductive feature is its 'old-school' look. It is like a mini representation of the older film-based camera fitted with modern technology. The small camera is packed with features like a 3x zoom lens from optics experts Schneider, a neatly hidden pop-up flash and a large 2.5-inch TFT LCD monitor at the back. Usage-wise, there's only one mode dial for selecting both exposure modes and other camera functions. All other selections are done via two rows of touch-sensitive buttons.

A ClickWheel without the Wheel

What's so unique about the NV10 - unlike most conventional compact cameras - is that it doesn't use a multi-selector ring or d-pad. Instead, the NV10 uses a series of Smart Touch dials for basic navigation. There are total of seven dials horizontally and six dials vertically lining the LCD display. Besides behaving as regular press-buttons, they are also touch sensitive, which reveal extra menus and settings. We have to admit that the Smart Touch feature is pretty cool at first but take it from us, there is a learning curve as you get use to the new navigation system.

For example, you will not find the usual arrowkeys to browse next/previous photos in preview mode. Instead, you will have to slide across the horizontal row of Smart Touch dials back and forth as necessary. It is however, useful for changing aperture or shutter speeds in manual mode where sliding your finger over the dials reflect a real-time change with the final outcome shown on the LCD - which is a very cool and handy feature if we should say so ourselves.

Finally a Worthy Samsung Camera

What's really cool about the NV10 is that it comes with a manual shooting mode. There is a remote in the package for hands-free photo taking as well as playback control when connected to an external viewer such as a TV. The NV10 also has a host of 'fun' features such as preset cartoon frames for photos, as well as a panoramic stitching mode. There is even an ASR (Advanced Shake Reduction) mode that engages a digital stabilization to prevent shaky hands from blurring photos. Too bad, the NV 10 didn't have a USB port built-in for easy file transfer. Instead, you'll have to use an add-on dock.

In our tests, colors were vibrant, yet natural, and the Schneider lens also performed well, suppressing aberrations and rendering good edge-to-edge sharpness. Noise (grains) were spotted from ISO 400 and above and photos might be affected by some slight barrel distortion at maximum wide angle.

Overall, the NV10 has a very attention grabbing retro design and we are quite satisfied with the camera's ergonomics pertaining to the right hand grip design. It is a lovely camera that performs well over our expectations considering that Samsung does not have a long history at making cameras. The NV10 is available now with a RRP of US$338 (S$699). Also in the pipeline from Samsung is the NV7 OPS. Unlike the NV10, it features dedicated anti-shake capabilities via lens compensation which is superior. Do look out for it in our upcoming feature soon.