Also not too surprisingly, the NV15’s overall performance is also identical to the NV8. The camera starts up very quickly in just over 1.5 seconds, and shuts down again in about the same. In single shot mode it has a shot-to-shot cycle time of just over 1.5 seconds, while iIn standard continuous shooting mode it can manage 1.2 seconds per shot, checking focus before every frame. There is also a high-speed burst mode that shoots three frames in approximately 1.5 seconds, and a motion capture mode that shoots 20 frames at 7fps, but only at 1024 x 768 resolution. The autofocus system is also nice and quick, acheiving focus in well under half a second, although it slows down somewhat at telephoto settings. Low light performance is very good, focusing quickly even in very low light, and it can focus in total darkness at a range of a couple of metres thanks to a bright AF assist lamp. Flash range, exposure and coverage is also very good, with a quick flash recharge time of about four seconds.
The major difference between the NV15 and the NV8 is one of picture quality, and in this it serves as a fine example of why more megapixels does not always mean better photos. The sensor in the NV15 is actually slightly smaller than the sensor of the NV8 (1.41cm against 1.44cm), but has two million extra photocells. Smaller cells are less efficient at capturing light, resulting in less colour depth, less ability to capture shadow detail, and more noise, since the signal has to be amplified more. Comparing the sample shots that I took with both cameras, shot on the same day in identical conditions, it is obvious that the NV15 suffers from significantly more image noise at any given ISO setting, with major problems as low as 200 ISO, and that there is no significant improvement in the recording of fine detail. The difference in dynamic range is slight but noticeable, as was the relative loss of shadow detail. In short, if you choose the NV8 over the NV15 you can get the same range of features, the same style and the same performance, with better image quality and save yourself £25 into the bargain.
Like most of the cameras in Samsung’s NV range, the NV15 has distinctive style, first class build quality, good handling, exceptional performance and an interesting range of features at a very reasonable price. The Smart Touch control system is something you’ll either love or hate, and the USB charging is a very useful addition. Unfortunately it also suffers from rather poor image quality, with significant levels of noise at all ISO settings. The 8MP NV8 is a better camera.