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Fortunately the internal components of the NV30 are clearly much more sophisticated than the L210, because its performance is much better. It starts up in well under two seconds, which is fast, and shuts down again even more quickly. The autofocus system is also much better, focusing quickly and reliably in good light, and also working outstandingly well in low light. A very bright AF assist lamp means it can also focus reliably in total darkness at a range of several meters.
Shooting performance is also very good. In single-shot mode at maximum picture quality the NV30 can maintain a shot-to-shot time of well under two seconds, while in continuous mode it shoots at just under one frame a second. It also has a high-speed burst mode that fires three shots in just under one and a half seconds.
Picture quality is generally good, but perhaps a little disappointing given the overall quality of the camera. As I mentioned earlier, the lens is very good, producing very little wide-angle distortion and excellent corner-to-corner sharpness, with only a tiny hint of chromatic aberration at the far corners of the frame.
What problems there are stem from the sensor and image processing. The camera doesn’t cope well with bright highlights, producing hard purple fringing around burned out skylines, and also suffering some fringe effects with very bright saturated colours. This is only really a problem on very bright sunny days, but could be a problem if you were planning to take the NV30 on holiday with you.
Noise control is another area where the NV30 is similar to the L210. Pictures are smooth and noise-free up to 200 ISO, still usable at 400 ISO, but deteriorate rapidly from 800 ISO upwards, which is about average for a compact in this price bracket.
The Samsung NV30 is a very nice little camera, but with a few limitations. It is very well made, handles well and performs quickly and reliably, with especially impressive low-light performance. Picture quality under most circumstances is very good, and the distinctive styling and unusual control system are bound to start a few conversations. The limited zoom range looks a bit weak compared to other recent premium cameras, but there’s no denying that the NV30 is excellent value for money.