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We've reviewed quite of few ultra compacts lately that go all the way when it comes to packing features, but suffer considerably when it comes to performance. Samsung hopes to break away from that trend by balancing the two, with the Samsung NV9.
To start off, the NV9 boasts of a really compact frame that measures a measly 95 x 60 x 21 millimeters. Add to that the fact that it weights just 180 grams, and you have a really portable camera. The left and right sides of the camera are rounded and there are no protruding parts, ensuring that its portability isn't marred by the odd edge that tugs at your pocket when you slide it in.
The camera features a black metallic finish (it's available in silver too) that looks great and doesn't attract fingerprints. The button placement's pretty much on target - the shutter button and mode dial are placed on the top side (towards the right) of the camera, while the power button's on the far left, ensuring that you never press it by mistake. Between these buttons, nest two analog meters to show your current battery and memory's status. While it's not the most useful feature, it works well and adds to the camera aesthetically; call me silly, but I find the touch of analog in a digital camera really cool.
Getting back to the button placement, the facing side of the NV9 has a zoom toggle near the top. It isn't the most convenient placement for it, since it's a little high for your thumb to reach naturally, but it's in no way a deal breaker. Below the toggle are the Image Stabilization, Function, Preview and Exit buttons. In between them is the navigation pad with a menu/ok button in the middle. Besides the buttons sits a 2.7 inch, 230,000 pixel screen.
Overall, the NV9 boasts of simplistic design, accentuated by a few features like two analog dials and a lit up blue ring around the power button, that add aesthetic appeal and a touch of individuality.
The Samsung NV9 has a mixed bag of features - while it lacks a few of the standard ones, it makes up with a few unique offerings. It features the standard modes - Scene, Auto, Program and Video, but lacks any sort of manual mode. It does however feature a Dual Image stabilization mode for shots in full zoom (it features 5X optical zoom), where it uses both digital and optical stabilization to get the best results. Aside from that, there's an incredibly useful Guide mode that shows you the ropes when it comes to everything from low light shots to high speed ones.
The camera supports up to 10.2 megapixel, and doesn't lose detail even at full resolution. Besides featuring spot-on auto-whitebalance, its color reproduction was vivid and brilliant, and the fact that the 'Exit' button doubles up as a color mode button, adds a good bit of pre-shot effects to give you that extra edge. Using this feature, you can change color modes, add preset color tints, and even manually set what color tint you wish your pictures to have, using RBG sliders (Red, Blue and Green). Besides this, you can even play around with color saturation levels before shots are clicked, giving you a good bit of stress-free artistic freedom. This feature's especially useful for those who don't have access to, or don't know how to use Photoshop or any other image editing software to add these effects post-shot.
The NV9 allows ISO settings 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600 and 3200 (3200 at 3 MP). Its low light sensitivity is excellent, and it does really well right up to ISO 400.
The camera's also got one of the most brilliant night modes I've seen in a while, and night shots it produced were detailed, reproduced color accurately, and had minimum noise.
The camera's macro performance was pretty decent too, although it didn't perform too well when objects were placed closer than 1.5 - 2 inches away.
Shutter lag was minimal and start-up time was about 2 seconds from power-up to shot.
Overall, the Samsung NV9 is the ideal mix of features and performance. Everything from its simple user interface, guide mode, to its easy-to-use pre-shot color options make it an incredibly user-friendly camera that's great for beginners. Its incredible night mode, great color reproduction, decent detail levels (not the best though), respectable image stabilization, 5x Optical Zoom (which is great for an ultra compact) add up to make it a solid package. Finally, its low MRP of Rs. 14,990 (Rs. 13,000 street price) makes it an incredibly attractive deal for anyone looking for a value camera with great performance.