Unexpected Envy – Photography With The Samsung NV10

Before I resumed my One Month, One Camera (OMOC) experiments this month, I tried out a couple of other cameras.

One of these was a more unusual digital compact I bought for the OMOC project, then found the battery was dead, and was reluctant to spend twice what the camera cost on a new battery.

Well, six months later I bit the bullet, and with fresh juice, I was delighted to see the Samsung NV10 spring into life.

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I’m not going to linger on the tech spec, but here’s the essentials of my experience of using the NV10.

Size, handling and build

The NV10 is pretty tiny, directly comparable to the Canon Digital IXUS 870 IS I used in January. It’s less than 10cm wide, 6cm high, and weighs about 165g, so virtually disappears in your palm.

Thanks to the shape of the front of the camera, a slightly rubberised strip on the front grip, and a thumb rest where the strap attaches at the rear, the handling is excellent, especially for such a small body.

The shutter button is perfectly placed, allowing for one handed shooting, if that’s your preference, though I usually use my left hand also to steady the camera.

The build is very good, with the camera being mostly a brushed black aluminium (I think?) shell, giving the camera both the look and feel of something classy and expensive.

The click stops of the mode dial are beautifully balanced, and again add to the quality feel.

Very impressive all round.

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User interface

Whilst the basics of the NV10 are familiar, like the mode dial, and the shutter button with its half press to focus, most of the operations of the Samsung are more unconventional.

Rather than specified buttons for certain functions, Samsung went with a kind of semi touchscreen interface, where the 13 “smart buttons” (seven along the bottom, six up the side) function differently depending what’s on screen.

This is quirky at first, but soon becomes intuitive, and I really like Samsung’s boldness in trying something different.

It also adds to the class and mystique of the camera, as when it’s switched off, the whole camera has a very sleek, black minimal feel.

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Lens and sensor

The NV10’s 10MP 1/1.8″ CCD sensor is right in the sweet spot of what I like in a digital compact. Not too many MPs, not too small, and CCD rather than CMOS.

The lens looks promising on paper too, a Schneider-KREUZNACH Varioplan Zoom 7.4-22.2mm, which is 35-105mm in 35mm camera terms. Again just about right, as I use digital compact zooms almost always at their widest and don’t touch the zoom controls, and I find 35mm a near perfect focal length for this type of camera.

It’s not super fast at f/2.8, but good enough for most needs, and comparable with all but the higher end digital compact cameras.

Images

Well, up until now, the Samsung had greatly impressed me in virtually every aspect.

In use, it functioned as it looked – compact and classy – and once you’ve set up your essential functions like ISO, flash, shooting mode, metering etc, you can virtually ignore every button except the shutter button, and you have a svelte and satisfying little point and shoot camera as your comrade.

The final image is not of the high class of something like my Ricoh GRD III or Lumix LX3, but those were/are much more expensive cameras, with better lenses and sensors.

My examples of these cameras cost about 20 and 10 times what the Samung NV10 set me back respectively, so it’s an unfair comparison.

In reality, the image quality for this kind of camera is really rather good, and certainly all I need.

All photographs below were made with my Samsung NV10.

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The NV10 does have a b/w mode, which I used as I still find it a little easier to compose b/w shots when I can see them in b/w on the screen, rather than having to convert from colour mentally.

But the images did still need a little contrast tweak in Snapseed – as do the photos from virtually all similar cameras – so no points lost for the Samsung here really, it’s a process I’m comfortable with.

Overall then, the NV10 is a bit of an undiscovered gem.

It’s not truly exceptional in any way, but it does everything very well, all wrapped up in a tiny, quality, classy package, with very pleasing handling. Which for me, ticks just about every box I need.

I’d recommend one without hesitation, especially as mine cost little over £5.

How about you? What unexpected gems have you come across in the past in your camera adventures? 

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for looking.

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