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Samsung NV100HD - Samsung NV100HD
Physically the NV100HD is one of the best-looking models in a series not exactly know for ugly cameras. The body has the usual round-ended design motif that is a hallmark of the NV range. It is mostly metal, although virtually the whole of the back of the camera is taken up with the big touch-screen monitor. The shape incorporates a raised finger grip, and the camera is comfortable and easy to hold despite its small size. The official figures claim the NV100HD is 19.9mm thick, but this ignores the lens which retracts not quite flush with the body. Even so it's only 28mm thick, definitely in shirt-pocket territory. The NV100HD is available in silver and red, silver and black, bronze and black or the plain matt black shown here.
I'm not a big fan of touch-screen control on cameras. In my opinion they offer no advantage over the conventional D-pad and menu and in fact have several major disadvantages. There are some cameras that get it right, but they are few and far between.
The touch-screen on the NV100HD is not one of the better ones. It's very sensitive, and responds to a light fingertip touch, but as is often the case the button areas are far too small and too close together, and the slight lag between pressing the screen icon and the action it is supposed to trigger makes it clumsy and awkward to use. Admittedly I have notoriously large fingers, but I found that the buttons and their tool-tips were completely obscured. Unfortunately it only responds to a finger touch, not a stylus or any other object, so unless you have fingers the size and shape of pencils you're going to have a problem operating the NV100HD.
It's a pity, because the camera has a lot of fun and useful features, including face, smile and blink detection, a range of colour options, plenty of scene mode programs, as well as auto, program and limited manual exposure. This only allows the selection of minimum or maximum aperture, but shutter speeds from 16 seconds to 1/2000th of a second are available. Image adjustments include sharpness, saturation and contrast, as well as a wide range of colour options. There are also several options in playback mode, including red-eye correction and automatic contrast balance. Like most of Samsung's compact cameras, the NV100HD can recharge from a USB port.
The stand-out feature is of course the 1280 x 720 30fps high-def video recording mode. The NV100HD was one of the first compacts to offer this feature, and it is well implemented and produces good results, with video recorded in the popular H264 MPEG4 format. Unusually the optical zoom can be used while shooting video, although the whirr of the zoom motor is quite loud on the soundtrack. It is possible to record without sound to avoid this.