Top positive review
112 people found this helpful
Best Flip-Screen Point-And-Shoot In Its Class
on December 19, 2011
I am a mother of two young children, and my husband does not take pictures. Therefore, my primary method of documenting my presence in their young lives is to take self portraits, and for that reason, I have always considered a flip/swivel screen to be a mandatory feature on all my digital cameras. Unfortunately, this seems to be a bit of a niche feature, largely phased out of point-and-shoot cameras. Many of the bulky SLR cameras have a flip/swivel screen, but unless you're setting it up on a tripod, you can forget about one-handed self-portraits. Even most of the "point and shoot" varieties are still too bulky to fit comfortably in a pocket. But Samsung seems to have finally hit my sweet spot with this small, sleek, fully-featured, highly capable, flip-screen camera. Here are some of the features that stand out:
Controls: Very clean and simple. You can see from the pictures that there aren't many buttons. That is because most of the features are accessed from the touch screen. The touch screen is very responsive to touches and swipes, comparable in my experience to iPhone touch screens. However, as with other touch screens, you will not be able to operate the touch screen while wearing gloves, so if you plan on taking lots of outdoor photos in the winter, you might want to invest in some gloves with conductive fingertips, or make your own using metallic thread (I saw a DIY article on it somewhere). The main menu has no less than five screens of options, including various photo and video shooting modes, scene selections, novelty modes, etc, but Samsung thoughtfully made this customizable so that you can put the options you use most on the first screen. While you're in shooting/viewfinder/review mode, icons for any available options will pop up with a simple touch of the screen, but are otherwise hidden for a clean, uncluttered screen.
Flip Screen: LOVE it. Although the screen only flips upward 180 degrees (it is not fully articulating like some of the other flip-screen cameras I've had), the camera itself is small and handy enough to rotate the body of it to achieve any viewing angle you want. I am a short woman and like to be able to take pictures above the heads of people in a crowd. By holding the camera upside down and angling the screen down towards me, I have an excellent high view and can still easily press the shutter button with my left thumb. Even better, the camera has an internal accelerometer that senses its position, and automatically rotates pictures taken from an upside-down position. And the fact that the flip screen is also a touch screen means that the menu is handy even when the camera is pointed toward you, making it easy to set your options for your self-portrait.
Picture/Video Quality: I'm only an amateur photographer, but I am very happy with the picture quality. The light balance and color are great, and the focus is sharp. I have read on professional reviews that indoor pictures without flash tend to be a bit "noisy", but I never noticed this until I read about it. I think the light balance is just fine indoors, but you will want to use the fill-in flash for best color and quality. I love the 5X optical zoom. The camera focuses well and is nicely stabilized even when zoomed out fully, and with the 16.1 MP resolution, you can capture great detail even far away. The video quality is terrific and outputs nicely even to our 50-inch HDTV. And with a recording resolution of 1280 x 720, you can even get display-quality still photos (1MP) from individual video frames.
Panoramic Photos: Easily the best panoramic mode I've had on a camera. Rather than stitching together overlapping still photos, it allows you to pan from one side to another for a seamless panoramic photo, capturing up to 180 degrees of vista, although you will get a bit of a "bubble" effect when capturing such a large panorama. It can also take vertical panoramas.
3D picture capability: I was underwhelmed with this. The fact is, in order to see your 3D photo, you need to output to a 3D TV. We have a Samsung 7000-series plasma TV, which itself has the ability to up-convert 2D content into 3D. In comparing a 3D photo taken with the MV800 and a 2D photo taken the MV800 and rendered as a 3D picture on our TV, I could see no appreciable difference. I suspect that the camera and the TV use the same technique for calculating depth in a 2D field. Of course, I did not buy this camera for that feature, so this didn't put me out at all.
On-the-fly photo/video switching: With young kids, you never know whether the next moment will be best captured with a still photo or a video. For that reason, I've always resented cameras that make you flip a switch in order to switch between still photo and video mode, which would frequently result in me accidentally taking a video when I wanted a photo, or vice verse. My favorite cameras have had a dedicated "record" button separate from the shutter button, but this seems to be a somewhat rare feature as well. Samsung partially addresses this by adding a touch-screen "record" button to the "Smart Auto" camera mode. That is, in "Smart Auto" camera mode, I can take a photo by pressing the shutter button, or take a video by touching the "record" button on the touch screen. Otherwise, to switch between photo and video modes, you have to access the main menu.
Battery life: I haven't really gotten a feel yet for how well the battery holds up. One review I read said it only takes 100 to 120 shots on a charge, but it seems like I've been able to take more than this on a full charge, depending on how often I use the flash, and importantly, how much time I spend fiddling with the menus in between shots (the LCD uses battery power too). When I've been disappointed with the battery, it's usually because I didn't charge it fully before using it, or I've been taking a lot of flash photographs. I will say that the battery life indicator, which has three bars, seems to go from full to nothing very quickly. I've heard from other owners of Samsung cameras that this is a common problem. My guess is that each bar represents approximately 33.3% charge, so three bars could indicate as little as a 67% charge. My advice is not to rely on the indicator as to whether your battery is fully charged or not. The best way to know if it is fully charged is to charge it fully right before using. It's also not a bad idea to have a charged backup battery on hand for those long events. You can get compatible batteries for as little as $15, they are well worth the investment.
In summary, I believe this is a sweet, intelligent little camera that is just crammed features. It's almost as if Samsung had consulted me personally in designing this thing, they have paid such close attention to the details that are most important to me. I think it would be hard to find a camera with a better balance of size, picture quality, and features.