One feature which the NV7 does have in common with the NV10 is the unusual Smart Touch control system. While its two rows of unmarked black buttons may look daunting at first, it is actually a very quick and easy system to use, and completely eliminates the need for a conventional menu system. When the camera is switched on, icons are shown on the monitor next to each button, indicating functions such as image quality, exposure compensation, ISO setting and more. Simply press the button next to the parameter you wish to change, and a column of options appears. Press the button on the other axis that corresponds to your choice, and it’s done. In aperture priority, shutter priority and full manual exposure modes the Smart Touch system works especially well. Aperture or shutter speed settings are adjusted by stroking your finger along the row of buttons to move an on-screen indicator. It is very quick and precise once you’re used to it.
Despite its stylish exterior and unusual control interface, the NV7 is well equipped for creative photography. In manual mode shutter speeds of 15 seconds to 1/1500th are available, as are aperture settings from f/2.8 to f/7.3 in 1/3rd EV intervals. It also has matrix, spot or centre-weighted metering, and optional manual focus. There is also automatic exposure bracketing. Thanks to the sculpted front handgrip and the strap lug that doubles as a thumb grip it handles extremely well. Its performance is better than average for what should probably be considered a super-zoom, although it’s a little slow if you’re used to style compacts. It starts up in a fraction under three seconds, and shuts down again in just under two. In single-shot mode it has a shot-to-shot time of just under three seconds, while in standard continuous mode it can shoot at about 1.3 seconds per shot. There is also a high-speed burst mode that fires off three shots in just under two seconds, as well as a motion capture mode which shoots up to 20 frames at 1024 x 768 resolution and 7.5 frames per second.
Other performance figures are also good. In video mode the camera can shoot at 640 x 480 resolution at 30fps, and the zoom lens can be used while filming. The camera is powered by an 860mAh battery which is larger than average for a compact camera, although Samsung makes no specific claim for its duration. I took over 90 shots on a full charge and the battery indicator was still reading as full. As for storage capacity, a freshly formatted 1GB card provides enough space for at least 270 shots at maximum quality, although it should be noted that the NV7 is not compatible with SDHC cards.
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