Since Samsung introduced its premium NV (New Vision) range of high-spec digital compact cameras in the summer of 2006, the company's fortunes in the digital camera market have dramatically improved, and looking at the NV8 it's easy to see why. Launched in August last year alongside the similarly-styled 10-megapixel NV15 and 12-megapixel NV20, the NV8 is a very stylish 8-megapixel pocket compact camera featuring a 3x zoom Schneider Kreuznach lens, a 2.5-inch 230k monitor and a wide range of options all operated by Samsung's innovative Smart Touch control system.
The camera's smart contemporary design is obviously an important selling point, but unlike a lot of fashion cameras it doesn't sacrifice usability for style. The distinctive shape, which it shares with many other models in the NV range, is very easy to hold, with a large handgrip on the front with a rubberised insert for extra grip, and a protruding thumb grip on the back that also doubles as the strap lug. The camera's body is all metal, and the matt black finish of my review sample proved to be very resistant to marks and scratches. While it is small and light, it feels solid and well made. The lens does protrude somewhat when deactivated, and the unusual shape of the body means that the NV8 isn't the slimmest camera in the world, but it is by no means bulky and fits well into a pocket or handbag for a night out. The camera measures 96.5 x 60 x 27mm, but for some reason Samsung's official website insists that it is actually 18.6mm thick, which it is if you don't include the lens or the handgrip. What exactly is the point of this practice of measuring the camera at the thinnest point of the body? It's like me saying I'm only five feet tall, if you don't include my head and neck. It's not fooling anyone, and is a completely irrelevant measurement for any practical purpose. For example, if you're considering buying a camera pouch to protect your new NV8 and want to know if it will fit, you want to know how thick it is including the lens and the handgrip, not without. These features are not removable, and are undeniably part of the camera body, so surely it makes some sort of sense to include them in any measurement of that body?
The NV8, including its lens and handgrip, is currently selling for around £130, which is a very good price for its specification. Considering its unusual features and design it's difficult to find a close comparison, but the Nikon Coolpix S210 is around £150, the Canon Powershot A580 is around £140, the Olympus FE-280 is £130, while the Fuji F40fd is now selling for under £110.