The most obvious feature of the NV8’s design is the Smart Touch control system, which replaces the usual menu and D-pad arrangement with two rows of featureless black buttons below and the the right of the monitor screen. At first glance these might look a bit daunting, but once you’ve been shown how they work you’ll wonder why nobody came up with this idea before. When the camera is switched on, there are two rows of icons on the screen corresponding to these buttons, covering such options as focus mode, flash mode, image size and quality, ISO setting, white balance etcetera, basically all the things that would normally be found on a camera’s menu. Pressing the button corresponding to any of these icons brings up a row or column of possible settings on the screen, and to select one of them you simply press the button on the other row corresponding to the setting you want. For variable settings, such as shutter speed or exposure compensation, stroking your finger across the row of buttons moves a pointer on a sliding scale. It might sound complicated but it really isn’t, and in practice it means that you can change any camera setting with two button presses. Once you get used to it it’s much quicker and easier to understand than a conventional menu system.
With such a comprehensive control system, the NV8’s many other features are easy to use, and there are plenty of them. It is one of the few compact cameras to include manual exposure control. Shutter speeds from 15 seconds to 1/1500th of a second can be selected, although the aperture control is limited to minimum or maximum settings only. The main mode dial on the camera’s top plate include an Effects setting, and it is here that the NV8’s more unusual features are found, including a multi-image composite mode, superimposed picture frames, and a unique animated GIF mode, which can make short stop-motion animations out of a sequence of shots and record them in the ultra-compact GIF format, ideal for sending in emails or posting on the internet.
The NV8 includes a feature called Advanced Shake Reduction, which is an image stabilisation mode. It combines electronic shake reduction with a slight increase in ISO speed to reduce the effects of camera shake. It does work, and can produce stable hand-held shots at shutter speeds as low as 1/10th of a second, but it isn’t as good as a mechanical IS system. The resulting images do look a bit over-processed, and shooting speeds in this mode are significantly slower than in the standard shooting modes.