The moving CCD image stabilisation system is presumably Samsung’s own, although it operates on the same principal as systems used by Pentax and Sony. Motion sensors and tiny actuators move the CCD in response to any camera vibration, allowing the camera to be used hand-held at shutter speeds lower than would otherwise be possible. The Samsung system has two modes, one which works only when the photo is taken, and the other which works continuously while the shutter button is half-pressed, giving a stabilised view on the monitor. In this mode you can actually hear it working as a high-pitched buzzing noise. The system definitely works, but I found that it wasn’t quite as effective as other manufacturers’ image stabilisation systems. It provides a reliable one stop of extra low-speed stability, but pushing it to two stops proved to be less reliable.
As might be expected the lens performs superbly, producing excellent sharpness across the entire frame at all focal lengths, with minimal wide-angle barrel distortion. Colour rendition and exposure are also excellent, although dynamic range is somewhat limited, with little shadow detail and some burned-out highlights. However the NV7 does have a major problem with image noise, and I’m not talking about the buzzing OPS system. Even at the lowest ISO setting and normal shutter speeds there was visible chromatic noise (random red/green mottling) in the darker and mid-tone areas of the picture and luminance noise elsewhere. The 7MP image files average just over 3MB, which is a bit on the small side, and there is some evidence of image compression on most images even at the maximum quality setting. This is the fault of the image processing system, which is very disappointing. It could have been so much better.
The Samsung NV7 OPS had the potential to be an outstanding camera, with a superb lens, great styling, adequate performance and a useful range of features including image stabilisation. However the sub-standard image processing system and resulting image noise problems really let it down.
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