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True to the series, the NV100HD is also an ultra portable. This time around, Samsung has gotten rid of the touch sensitive buttons that we've seen in their previous cameras in the series, only to be replaced by a bigger, brighter, touch-sensitive screen. Considering how responsive the button navigation was, I'm not entirely convinced that shifting to a more rigid touchscreen was a better idea.
Sized at 95x60x20mm and weighing a mere 178g, the NV100HD is very easily pocketable. In most of my usage I had the camera in the same pocket as my wallet (front trouser pocket) and it still didn't create a very noticeable bulge. The camera, however, also comes with a safer and more convenient leather carry case.
With all the major navigation work and settings managed by the touchscreen, the hard buttons on the camera are kept to a minimum. On the top you have the mode dial along with the power button and the shutter release.
On the back, to the right of the screen there's the wide/tele zoom switch and buttons to bring up the menu and playback of recorded images.
The handgrip is minimal, but very effective, especially considering the ergonomics of the camera. Overall, the NV100HD is comfortable to use with its ergonomic design and it's thoughtful button placement.
The NV100HD pushes imaging limits with its 14.7 megapixel resolution. I can imagine the Samsung marketing team having a ball flashing that number around, but megapixel count does not directly translate to better quality. In fact, it usually leads to a higher strain on the image sensor in some cases. We'll see how the image quality holds up at full resolution in our performance tests.
Zoom level's not too high at 3.6x (28mm-102mm), but then again it's understandable considering its ultra-compact design.
As I mentioned earlier, the 3-inch screen controls most of the in-camera navigation. Though the display quality is top notch in every sense of the word, the screen itself isn't as responsive as I would have liked it to be. Most navigation options are easy to reach, but considering that most sub-menus are bite-sized, it gets a bit difficult to select the right option. Considering I have hands of a giant, I constantly found myself wishing for an alternate navigation method. How I miss the navigational buttons from the previous NV cameras.
With "HD" being a part of the model's name, you would have guessed by now that the NV100HD is capable of shooting video at the HD Ready resolution (1280x720) at full 30 fps — a pretty good feat for any consumer camera. How well does that translate to quality will be seen in the performance section.
The Samsung NV series that we've reviewed so far have been great performers with vibrant colors and surprisingly sharp image clarity. But now with the specs pushing up to a massive 14.7 megapixel resolution, I couldn't help but think about the kind of strain that this compact camera's image sensor would have to bear with every capture. Unfortunately, my concerns were not baseless.
The overall image clarity at full resolution has taken a toll in the Samsung NV100HD. While the images clicked in bright sunlight may feel just fine, anything less than that lighting causes visible sensor noise on the image. The sensor noise is not like the digital noise that you see in high ISO shots, but it still affects the overall sharpness of the image. Luckily at such a high resolution, you may not notice this issue in your prints. But if you happen to be the type who likes to crop into the small portions of the image, then this could be an issue.
The colors seemed considerably more vibrant in the NV100HD, even when I compared the images to shots taken by the previous cameras in the series. The colors in the snapshots seemed a lot more saturated than the subject's natural tones. This would be acceptable if I would have set the camera to give me more vivid colors, but getting this in the normal color scheme seemed unnecessary.
This is one of the few cameras where the camera's built-in night mode outperformed the results I got with manually setting the camera's exposure. The good thing is that the night scene mode automatically selects a low ISO setting with a high exposure, reducing the risk of an image with high digital noise. But though the results were acceptable this time around as well, I couldn't help but feel that it still didn't match up to the great colors that I got from the previous NV cameras' night modes.
The HD video recorded and played pretty smoothly with no noticeable jerks or frame jumps under normal shooting conditions. The mic placement of the camera, however, seems to be quite off, as it was able to record my voice (from behind the camera) a lot clearer than the voice of the people directly in front of it. That and the noise issue I spoke about earlier is clearly visible here as well. Still, it's a pretty good option for those quick fun videos.
The battery life is definitely the most impressive part about the NV 100HD. The camera easily did 120 shots (with and without flash), before it let out a sight that I may have to recharge. It's definitely more than what I've seen from most other ultra-slim cameras out there.
I can't help but feel that the NV100HD falls short on the standards set by its predecessors. Though it's specs are more than impressive on paper, in actuality — both in touchscreen navigation as well as the camera's overall performance, it does disappoint. That said, Rs. 19,990 (street price) for a 14.7 megapixel digicam is definitely a good deal, and will definitely seem like a promising proposition to casual users. I just suggest you look before you leap.
|Dimensions||95 x 60 x 20 mm|
|Storage||SD/MMC/SDHC card + Internal|
|LCD Type||3.0", 460,000 pixels|
|Effective Pixels||14.7 Megapixel|
|ISO Sensitivity||Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, (3200 at 3MP)|
|Shutter Speed||1 - 1/2000 sec|
|Aperture||F2.8 - F5.9|
6 positions plus custom
|Flash||Auto, On, Off, Red-Eye reduction, Slow Sync, Fill-in Flash, Red Eye Fix|