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Before I give you the impression that this is the perfect camera, it does have a few handling quirks that should be pointed out. First is the continuous shooting mode, which works perfectly well but in a rather odd way. When you press the shutter button the camera makes its electronic shutter noise and the screen goes blank, which is fairly normal. What is unusual is that the screen stays blank until you release the shutter button, which makes framing subsequent shots a bit difficult unless you’re using the optical viewfinder. Also, although the camera continues to shoot, it doesn’t make any further noise to let you know that it’s shooting.
The other weak point is the AF system. The V700 has an AF illuminator lamp, but despite this it still has problems focusing in low light. It also doesn’t focus particularly well in macro mode, taking several tries to lock onto the closest subject even when it is well within the macro focusing range. Under normal lighting and focus situations the AF system is quick, but does seem to be a bit haphazard, sometimes hitting the right subject but at other times focusing on the background instead.
Where the V700 scores high marks is image quality. The Schneider-Kreuznach 3x zoom lens that Samsung uses on most of its digital cameras is exceptionally good, providing sharp and highly detailed images with hardly any of the corner blurring that is a problem with many other cameras in this class. There is some slight barrel distortion at the wide-angle end of the zoom range, but that is not uncommon in small zoom lenses and is doesn’t detract too much from the overall image quality.
Apart from the few images that were out of focus, results on the whole were sharp, crisp and full of detail. Colour reproduction is especially good, both when using the flash indoors and when using auto white balance in tungsten light situations, which can cause problems for a lot of cameras. At seven megapixels the V700 should be capable of producing pin-sharp photo-quality A4-sized prints, and acceptably sharp A3 ones.
Noise control is particularly good, with very little noise at 50 ISO, and a reasonably acceptable level even at 400. The only real problem with image quality is an annoying level of purple fringing on high contrast edges, but this is a problem suffered by many high-end digital cameras, and is not unique to Samsung. Until CCDs improve it is something that we are just going to have to put up with.
All in all the V700 is a good, and nearly great camera, and compares well with competing models from Olympus, Sony and others. It ought to sell well, and anyone who buys one will not be disappointed. If only Samsung had Sony’s advertising budget this could be the most successful camera that the company has ever produced. Only time will tell if it achieves the success it deserves.
Samsung’s best model to date; a powerful super-snapshot camera with some excellent features and good build quality. Not without its faults, but redeemed by superior image quality and good performance. There are better cameras, but few that offer better value for money.