The Samsung NV100HD - with its HD movie and other features for a mere £170 - sounds like amazing value. But are there any catches? The What Digital Camera Samsung NV100HD review reveals all...
Samsung NV100HD review
The NV100HD has an ambitious specification. There aren’t many rival models that can match its list of features; it sounds like amazing value for under £170.
Samsung NV100HD review – Features
The NV100HD has a big 14.7-megapixel 1/1.72in CCD sensor, a 3.6x zoom Schneider-Kreuznach lens with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 and a 28mm wide angle, a 3in touchscreen monitor with a resolution of 460k (twice the usual), 1280 x 720 30fps HD video recording and optical image stabilisation.
There are a lot of fun and useful features, including face, smile and blink detection, a range of colour options, scene mode programs, auto, program and even manual exposure. Image adjustments include sharpness, saturation and contrast, as well as a wide range of colour options. There are also several options in playback mode, including red-eye correction and automatic contrast balance.
Samsung NV100HD review – Design
The NV100HD has a strong all-metal body, with a shape that incorporates a raised finger grip, and the camera is comfortable and easy to hold despite its small size. It is available in silver and red, silver and black, bronze and black or plain matt black.
The touchscreen is very sensitive, and responds to a light fingertip touch, but the button areas are small and too close together, and the slight lag makes it clumsy and awkward to use. Unfortunately it only responds to a finger, not a stylus or any other object, so unless you have very thin fingers you’re going to have a problem operating the camera.
Samsung NV100HD review – Performance
The NV100HD performs well, starting up in less than two seconds, and shutting down again even more quickly. In single-shot mode it has a shot-to-shot time of approximately 1.6 seconds, which is very fast. In standard continuous mode it is faster still at 1.3 seconds per shot, but there is a high-speed continuous mode which can take a burst of four shots at around two frames a second.
The NV100HD has an extremely fast autofocus system, and operates almost as quickly at full zoom and in low light. It has a good AF assist lamp with a range of several metres, and the pop-up flash is very powerful for its size, easily lighting a large room.
The star feature is the 1280 x 720 HD video recording mode. It was one of the first compacts to offer HD video, and it produces good results, with video recorded in the popular H264 MPEG4 format. The optical zoom can be used while shooting video, although the whir of the zoom motor is quite loud on the soundtrack. It is possible to record without sound to avoid this.
Samsung NV100HD review – Image Quality
Unfortunately the image quality is a big disappointment. Although the sensor is of the larger 1/1.72in size, it is simply over-powered and overcrowded. The resulting images lack contrast and depth, colours are washed out and there is no tonal subtlety. The actual level of detail is lower than some similar 10-megapixel cameras.
The NV100HD’s main image quality problem is image noise. There is visible colour mottling even at ISO 80 and significant noise by ISO 200, which gets progressively worse. There are major colour problems at ISO 400, and the three-megapixel ISO 3200 maximum is pretty much unusable.
The Samsung NV100HD could have been a great camera. It has a striking but practical design, solid build quality, a decent lens, a good range of features and excellent performance. The autofocus system is excellent, and the HD video mode is a nice bonus. However the touchscreen interface is fiddly and picture quality is disappointingly poor.