Packing a whopping 10Mp into a modest, slinky body, the NV10 punches above its weight. Heavyweight Duncan Evans takes it on.
The Samsung NV range offers power and features, matched with stylish bodies and cutting edge design. The NV10 is no different, wedging an unfeasibly large 10Mp CCD
into a pocket-sized shape. Thankfully, this version has a standard, retracting 3x optical zoom
, unlike the demented design of the sibling NV7 with its relatively enormous lens. Specification
- Sensor type: 1/1.8in CCD
- Effective pixels: 10.1Mp
- Lens focal length: 7.4-22.2mm (35mm film equivalent : 35-105mm)
- LCD Monitor: 2.5in colour TFT LCD (230,000 pixel)
- Macro: 4cm
- Speed: 15-1/1,500sec.
- Metering: Multi, Spot, Centre
- Compensation: ±2EV (1/3EV steps)
- ISO range: Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1000
- Flash Modes: Auto, Auto & Red-eye reduction, Fill-in, Slow sync, Flash off
- Range: Wide - 0.4m~3.2m, Tele - 0.5m~1.7m
- Voice Recording: max 1 hour.
- Self-timer : 2sec, 10sec, double self timer
- Movie clip size: 640x480, 320x240 (3x optical zoom and mute in zooming)
- Frame rate: 30 fps, 15 fps
- Internal Memory: about 20Mb
- Dimensions: 96.5x60x18.5mm (projecting part 8mm)
- Weight: 148.7g (without battery and card)
This compact from Samsung offers a higher resolution than the NV7 OPS and the L70, and while it shares the same advanced menu system as the NV7, it lacks the optical power of that model. That places the NV10 back into the general digital compact category, capable of doing a bit of everything, and with a street price of just £189, it's competing with everything from budget to mid-range compacts. Modes and features
The top dial contains all the shooting modes as usual and while there's the expected Program
and Scene modes (Night, Portrait, Children, Landscape, Text, Close-up, Sunset, Dawn, Backlight, Fireworks, Beach & Snow) there are also ASR and Manual modes. The ASR is the anti-shake mode and means that the camera takes control of all the exposure settings and, crucially, the ISO rating. This effectively takes the image control out of your hands, but could be useful in situations like at gigs, where there's little time to tinker. The Manual mode is exactly that, a completely manual mode, but this is limited in that there are only two aperture settings. These are f/2.8 and f/7.1, which scale upwards as the zoom is used, so that at full extension, the wide open aperture becomes f/5.1 which really isn't that good and makes it harder to get a sharp shot.
The movie function on the other hand is a welcome addition to the camera's armoury. This can shoot at 640x480 resolution at 30fps, or smaller and choppier versions. The only thing to be aware of is that while it saves files as standard AVIs it uses the DiVx Codec, which your PC may not have. You'll need the bundled Samsung Digimax Master software to edit and save in other, more universal formats.
range is a decent 100-1000, while it isn't surprising that there's no ISO1600 mode considering that this is a 10Mp sensor in a small package. On the shooting front, the longest exposure time is 15secs which is good for a compact certainly, and will enable night shots and even fireworks to be captured. Less useful is the maximum shutter speed of 1/1500sec. If it's sunny and you're shooting towards it, this isn't going to be fast enough, but then it has to be expected that there are going to be limitations on a compact featuring such tremendous build quality at this very low price.
The macro mode boasts a reasonable 4cm, which isn't as good as the NV7's 1cm range, but critically, it's far worse at focussing in close up shots, than the NV7. Even when something is clearly in range, the focus can hunt up and down the range, on subjects where there is a clear contrast. Build and handling
For a camera that you can buy for under £200, the NV10 is remarkably well built. It has a real solid, quality feel about it. The lens is reasonably stable when extended, but the main attraction is the touch sensitive key operation on the back. Here, like the NV7, two banks of touch and pressure sensitive buttons allow feature selections to be made without ever having to access a menu. It's genuinely innovative, and will only cause trouble if you have large fingers.
The SD card fits in the battery compartment and is quite tight to the edge, but it's still not too difficult to get out and the controls in general are all solid and easy to use, so first rate in this department. Flash options
The flash is built in and pops up when required. It isn't very strong with a range of just 3.2m in wide angle mode, but that places it in the middle range of what you can expect from a compact. It does have a lot of useful functions though, including fill-flash, red eye removal, and, quite unusually, a slow-sync mode which is really useful for portraits at night. Performance
Startup time is slightly slower than rival cameras, at 3-4 seconds, but the main operation of the camera is generally quick thanks to the easy to use function dial and the menu-free option selection on the LCD. The buttons here are touch sensitive to move between options and pressure sensitive to activate, but these are easy to miss and the wrong setting can be activated by mistake. If care is applied though, and a small finger used, this should not be a problem and the system makes picking the camera up and shooting very simple.
The zoom, at a limited 3x optical, doesn't impress, but really, at this price point, it would be surprising if it did. What is below par is the focussing which struggles at times, even with subjects with obvious contrast. It's worse at the Macro
end. The Macro is 4cm, which is pretty good, but other cameras can offer 1cm. Mind you, some only offer 10cm, so this is a slightly above average offering.
Initially it seems strange that there is a Program mode and a Manual mode, but no aperture priority
or shutter priority modes. However, the camera features live metering, so, when in manual mode, if the aperture is selected, the camera reports on how over or under exposed the shot will be with the current speed setting. As there are only two aperture settings it's only really practical to use the camera in this fashion, and not try to use a shutter priority method of operation.
In practice both the Program mode, featuring exposure compensation
, and the Manual modes, work well. The metering, like most compacts, is optimised towards ensuring the ground comes out well, at the expense of the sky. However, with the exposure compensation, and live preview, it's possible to adjust the exposure until detail comes back into the sky, regardless of the metering mode. This leads into the one flaw with the Scene modes – these are optimised for a variety of conditions and locations, but foolishly, the landscape mode does not allow exposure compensation to be used, making it less useful for landscapes, than the Manual mode.
Sharpness is reasonable through the image, but images aren't as sharp as those from the sibling NV7, but then that's hardly a surprise. With a 10Mp resolution, there was always going to be lots of detail in the NV10's images, but noise control is a significant concern with that high a resolution on a small chip. Noise is evident, but is kept under control for the most part.
Colours are generally good, with bright greens for landscapes and healthy skin tones for portraits. The Portrait mode works well and comes up with people shots that are nicely rendered.
Shot in Portrait mode, there's a fine tonal range here, with hair detail rendered well, but the tones are slightly florid if pleasingly soft for a portrait, and there's noise in the background.
The colours across the chart are quite accurate. The blue is brighter and the red more vivid. The mixtures are good apart from the skin tone colour which is more ruddy and the bluish-green combo which is cyan.
The camera coped well with a very high contrast scene, but this did require significant exposure compensation to control. There is no real sharpness in the middle, the detail tends to disappear and there is noise evident.
The macro mode struggled for focus here and there is surprisingly little depth of field, so that while the post is sharpish, the chain is out of focus. There's also a noticeable magenta colour cast across this image.
There's some over-exposure on the sky, which is no surprise, but the white house itself has been exposed for very well when it could easily be hugely underexposed so the metering has done a good job.
The green grass is nice and vibrant, and while there is colour fringing in the trees, this is not as bad as it could have been. There is however, noise throughout the image and a lack of sharpness.
Unlike most cameras, there is actually some colour noise evident in the shadow areas of the ISO100 test shot. At ISO200 its slightly worse, the colour of the noise being stronger and there are also other artefacts beginning to appear. Curiously the ISO400 mode isn't really any worse. The noise is still noticeable, the elements of random colour are larger but softer so have less impact. Black areas though are really, quite variable. The ISO800 shot shows a slight colour change in the red petals, becoming darker, but the noise becomes appreciable. The ISO1000 test, despite being only a slightly higher rating is a lot more noisy, showing that an ISO1600 mode would have been untenable.
The ISO100 test
The ISO200 test
The ISO400 test
The ISO800 test
The ISO1000 test
With a colossal 10Mp resolution, there's the temptation to take this camera into the countryside for some landscape work, but really that isn't what the camera, or most other compacts, is for. You really do not need that high a resolution for people and holiday shots which is what this will see the most use doing. The drawback of that high res is that there is noise at every ISO setting, including 100, though there it's the shadow areas. There's also a lack of fine detail in the mid to background areas as the lens can't really resolve it that well. For portraits, which is where the NV10 really is aimed, it's fine. Hair is rendered well, and ski tones, though veering on the lively side, at least make people look healthy. The controls, design and build quality are the other selling points, and these are all very good. You'll be shocked at how high quality the body is for the money being asked. This really does lift the camera above what is otherwise an entirely average performance.
Excellent build quality
Innovative control system
Live metering in Manual
Good portraits Minus points:
Images are noisy
Focussing is erratic in macro mode
Zoom is only 3x
Limited shutter speed
Only two aperture settings
Images not great quality