As with the SH100, image quality on the MV800 is generally pretty good. Of course, once you start examining images at 100% and the limitations of the small sensor do become apparent especially at higher sensitivity settings, but viewed at regular monitor sizes (or at smaller print sizes) the MV800 produces bright, natural looking images that we suspect the vast majority of users will be more than happy with.
Metering is generally pretty accurate, although the small sensor does limit dynamic range. During testing we found that the camera tends to favour shadows and mid-tones so expect to lose some highlight detail when faced with a high-contrast situation. Automatic white balance isn’t a problem though, delivering consistently accurate results. You can, of course, tweak WB settings should you want to change the colour temperature or set it up for specific conditions.
The 5x Schneider zoom delivers pleasingly sharp results especially in the centre of the frame, however barrel distortion at the 26mm wideangle setting is quite pronounced. The built-in Image Stabilisation does an effective job of keeping blur to a minimum at longer telephoto settings and slower shutter speeds too.
Noise isn’t really a problem at lower ISO settings, with images shot at anything up to and including ISO 400 free of noise and the effects of noise control processing. ISO 800 is the cut-off point, however, where noise becomes noticeable in images, even when reduced in size and viewed on a small screen. Above this ISO 1600 is softer still but just about usable at the smallest sizes, while the top setting of ISO 3200 is best avoided altogether as is not only extremely soft but also displays a marked loss of saturation.
The Samsung MV800 isn’t the speediest camera on the market by any means. But then, it’s really not designed to be fast – it’s designed to be easy-to-use, flexible and fun. Measured solely by these three key credentials it scores well too. There are still some things we’d like to see in a future model – such as built-in Wi-Fi and direct social networking integration – but in most other ways the MV800 is step in the right direction that serves the needs of its target audience very well indeed.