The V803 is a simple snapshot camera, but even so it’s not entirely lacking in useful features. It doesn’t have any manual exposure controls, but it does have an exhaustive list of 23 scene programs, including left and right panorama stitching, a high-ISO anti-blur mode, a panning-shot mode with lower shutter speeds, text-copying mode, a silent flashless museum mode as well as the usual options including portrait, landscape, sport, night landscape and portrait, snow and sunset.
Picture adjustments on the menu include three different saturation settings, monochrome, sepia, and unusually for a point-and-shoot compact, adjustable sharpness. Other options include single or continuous AF with multi-zone or centre-zone focus point, three metering modes (multi-patterns, centre-weighted or spot), and a self timer with two second, ten second or double-shot options. Exposure compensation is conveniently located on the left and right directions of the D-pad. Not a bad selection of options for a budget-priced compact.
One slight hiccup in this so-far satisfactory result is general performance. Turning the camera on requires holding down the power button for just over a second, after which the lens pops out at near-supersonic speeds, but unfortunately the rest of the camera just can’t keep up with it. From the first press of the button it takes a leisurely 4.5 seconds to start up, most of which seems to be occupied by the software booting up. It shuts down again much more quickly, in around 2.75 seconds. The camera doesn’t have a proper continuous shooting mode, but it does have a four-shot burst mode which can shoot at one frame a second, although the flash is disabled in this mode.
The AF system is reasonably quick, and operates extremely well in reduced lighting, such as a pub or club. It can focus in total darkness thanks to the AF illuminator, but this only has an effective range of about 1.5 metres, good enough for close portraits but not much more. This is just as well, because the flash is seriously underpowered. The stated range is 0.6–3.0m at wide-angle and 0.6–2.0m when zoomed in, but to be honest this is a bit generous. I found that in a social setting (down the pub) the effective range at wide angle was no more than two metres.