As the NV-series begins to phase out, the Samsung NV9 sees it depart on a high note - the What Digital Camera Samsung NV9 review sees why...
Samsung NV9 review
Samsung may now be phasing out the NV series, but at least it goes out on a high note, because the NV9 is a great little camera. It’s an ultra-compact featuring a 10.2-megapixel 1/ 2.33in sensor, internal 5x zoom lens with optical image stabilisation and a 2.7in 230k monitor.
Samsung NV9 review – Features
The NV9 has all the features of a modern high-spec compact, including face, blink and smile detection, automatic in-camera red-eye correction, and a Beauty Shot feature that uses face detection to automatically smooth and enhance skin tones. Other shooting modes include 14 scene programs, dual stabilisation and a useful Photo Help Guide. The movie mode offers 640 x 480 at 30fps with mono audio. The optical zoom can be used while shooting video.
The NV9 has a single multi-function socket that serves as USB connection, battery charger and headphone socket for the built-in media player. The supplied headphones are pretty poor, but the connector means you can’t substitute a better pair. The one advantage of the combined socket is that the NV9 can charge up from any powered USB socket.
Samsung NV9 review – Design
The stylish aluminium body is available in silver or the matt black. The internal lens design gives it a very compact shape with no protruding parts, measuring just 95 x 59.9 x 18.8mm and weighing approximately 160g including battery and memory card. The build quality is excellent, and the NV9 both looks and feels more expensive than it is.
The most striking design element is the pair of small analogue clock dials on the top-plate. These provide a visual indication of the remaining battery power and memory capacity, but they are really just cosmetic, since there is a numeric frame counter and a three-bar battery gauge on the monitor display.
Samsung NV9 review – Performance
The NV9 performs well, starting up in less than two seconds and shutting down again even more quickly. In single-shot mode it can manage a shot-to-shot time of just over two seconds, while in continuous mode it takes a shot every 1.5 seconds, although there is no audio cue when each shot is taken and the screen is blank.
Low-light autofocus performance is especially good, focusing in pitch darkness almost as quickly as in daylight at a range of around three metres, thanks to the bright AF lamp. It does slow down somewhat at long zoom settings in low light, but still focuses well. The flash is a little underpowered, with a maximum range of only 3.4m, but it is well metered at close range.
Samsung NV9 review – Image Quality
The lens has minimal distortion or chromatic aberration, and good edge-to-edge detail. Colour reproduction is very neutral, although this is not helped by the tendency to over-expose by about half a stop in high-contrast situations. Overall dynamic range was actually pretty good, but adding the Auto Contrast Balance just made the whole picture look over-exposed.
Noise control is fairly good, with excellent picture quality up to ISO 200. There is some noise visible at ISO 400, and more at 800, but it is well controlled, retaining both fine detail and colour balance. The ISO 1600 and the ISO 3200 setting available at 3MP are both pretty terrible, but that’s usually the case.
The Samsung NV9 is pretty much the perfect pocket camera, ideal for quick snapshots and especially for parties and nights out. It looks great, is solidly made, performs well and produces good results. The multimedia features are a bit average, but if you’re looking for a classy ultra-compact the NV9 is great value for money.