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Samsung NV100HD - Samsung NV100HD
Like most of the NV cameras the NV100HD performs exceptionally well. It starts up in well under two seconds, and shuts down again even more quickly. In single-shot mode at maximum image size and quality it can sustain a shot-to-shot time of approximately 1.6 seconds, which is very fast. In standard continuous mode it is faster still at 1.3 seconds per shot, but there is a high-speed continuous mode which can take a burst of four shots at around 2 frames a second, before slowing to 1.25fps as the buffer fills up.
This outstanding performance is aided by an extremely fast autofocus system, in fact one of the fastest I've seen on a compact camera. It's accurate too, and operates almost as quickly at full zoom and in low light. The NV100HD has a good bright AF assist lamp with a range of several metres, and the pop-up flash is very powerful for its size, easily lighting a large room. The flash metering is excellent, lighting close-range subjects without over-powering them.
Unfortunately the biggest disappointment is the image quality. Although the sensor is of the larger 1/1.72-inch size, it is simply over-powered and overcrowded. The resulting images may be huge, but they lack contrast and depth, colours are washed out and there is no tonal subtlety. As well as this the resolving power of the sensor may be beyond the resolving power of the lens, because the actual level of detail is lower than some similar 10-megapixel cameras.
The lens itself isn't bad, although it does produce some barrel distortion at wide angle. Overall sharpness is good, with very little corner blurring, although there is some chromatic aberration in the far corners of the frame.
The NV100HD's main image quality problem is image noise, another effect of that overcrowded sensor. There is visible colour mottling even at 80 ISO and significant noise by 200 ISO, which gets progressively worse. There are major colour problems at 400 ISO, and the three-megapixel 3200 ISO maximum is pretty much unusable.
The Samsung NV100HD could have been a great camera. It has a striking but practical design, solid build quality, a decent lens, a good range of features and excellent performance. The autofocus system works very well in low light, and the HD video mode is a nice bonus. However all these good points are spoiled by that fiddly touch-screen interface and the disappointingly poor picture quality of its over-powered sensor. The low price is tempting, but it could have been so much better.