First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
Samsung NV24HD digital camera
Samsung's NV24HD compact digital camera introduces an innovative menu navigation system
- Easy access to menu functions, wide angle lens, dedicated dial for colour modes
- Images are muddy, poor low light performance, some discolouration in dark grey tones
The Samsung NV24HD compact digital camera is a good option if you want a model that can capture decent still photos across a range of modes, average video, as well as providing direct access to most manual settings. It employs an innovative menu navigation, which we quickly became accustomed to using. For users who often like to fiddle with the image settings the NV24HD navigation makes this camera a very interesting proposition.
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Samsung's NV24HD strays a long way from the conventional design of a compact digital camera. It offers a couple of features that aren't found on other compact digital cameras, such as a dedicated dial for selecting the photo style you want, and it also has a new way for navigating the on-screen menu system. These innovations make the Samsung NV24HD a little difficult to use initially, until you get used to them.
The biggest difference between the Samsung NV24HD and other compact digital cameras is the navigation method of the on-screen menu, which has a dedicated button for each function. This means that there is a total of 14 buttons located to the right below the LCD screen. Each button corresponds to an on-screen menu item. Furthermore, each line of buttons allows you to scroll through options when you run your finger across all the buttons — similar to the way you would scroll on the touchscreen of the iPhone, but instead you are moving your fingers across physical buttons. The buttons are touch sensitive for scrolling, which means you don't have to apply pressure, but they need to be pressed when you want to access each button's function.
Having all the options of the camera accessible by pressing a dedicated button is convenient. Initially it can be confusing to use, as there is no central menu button to bring up all the configuration options, and you also have to learn what a lot of the on-screen icons mean. The upside is that when you shoot in manual mode, the ISO speed, aperture value and shutter speed can all be changed quickly by pressing the button that corresponds to each setting. Then it is simply a matter of sliding your finger along the row of buttons below the LCD screen to change the setting. Likewise, you can change the white balance, focus mode, flash mode, focus area, picture size, and metering mode by pressing the button corresponding to each icon.
At the heart of the Samsung NV24HD is a 10.2-megapixel CCD sensor, and it has a 24-86mm zoom lens with built-in optical image stabilisation. The lens has a maximum aperture of f/2.8 at the lens' widest angle (24mm) and f/5.9 when zoomed all the way (86mm). Unfortunately, when in manual mode, you don't have a wide choice of aperture values; you can either select f/2.8 or f/7.3 at the wide angle, or f/5.9 or f/14.7 when zoomed in.
The 24-86mm lens makes the Samsung NV24HD a good camera for all types of object photography, landscapes and portraits. It's great for party snaps as well as taking shots of buildings and landmarks. However, because it doesn't have a long zoom, it won't do a good job of capturing distant subjects. It's not an ideal camera to capture animals from a distance for example at the zoo or family pets.
Its overall picture quality is more than adequate for a compact camera, but it suffers from noticeable noise when used in low light conditions. You will notice noise when using an ISO speed over 200. It performs best during the day and does an acceptable job in bright sunlight. Colours tones are accurate, and not overly vibrant. There is slight chromatic aberration along dark edges, which is noticeable when you view the photos at their maximum 10.2-megapixel resolution (3648x2736), and discolouration is also noticeable in dark grey areas (they will look a little purple).
The clarity of the images is good when you view them on a typical widescreen monitor at a resolution of 1680x1050, for example, but if you view the pictures at their full size, they will look muddy. As such, you won't want to crop your images close, as this will show the lack of definition. This means that when you take photos with this camera, you should take them with the intention of not having to crop them once you transfer them to the computer. Large print outs will also suffer from a lack of definition, but anything up to A4 should look reasonably sharp.
Like all compact cameras on the market, the Samsung NV24HD has face recognition, and this works swiftly and accurately. It will track faces within the frame if they move around, and it can lock onto multiple faces at a time with no problems. The normal multi-point focusing performance of the NV24HD digital cameras was a little off. It often focused above or below the objects in our frame, despite them being prominently positioned and having good contrast. You'll need to be mindful of this while shooting, and may need to change from multi-point to the normal focus mode to centre the shot.
If you want to get creative with colours, you can use the dial on the left-hand side of the camera, which includes modes for sepia, classic, retro, calm, cool, forest, vivid, and soft colour modes. It's worth playing around with these modes if you want to give your photos a slightly different tone — but don't forget to change it back to normal once you are done, otherwise you might wonder why all of your photos have a weird colour cast! Our favourite mode is classic, which takes photos in black and white, but it does not overlay a grain on the photos. For a grainy look, you'll have to get creative with the exposure settings and bump up the ISO speed to 800.
The Samsung NV24HD can also take high-definition videos (at a resolution of 1280x720) and save them in the MPEG-4 format (they can be played back in Apple Quicktime), but the quality of the movies isn't stellar, and it wasn't as good as the results from the Canon PowerShot SX200 IS. It's good enough for uploading videos to YouTube and Facebook, but you won't want to use it to capture any serious video footage.
Overall you should consider the Samsung NV24HD compact digital camera if you want a model that can take decent still photographs and provides direct access to many of its manual settings. Indeed, the menu navigation method is unique in the compact cameras we've tested to date, making the Samsung NV24HD a very interesting proposition. We got used to the functions in no time and think this type of navigation may become popular with users who like to access and adjust shot settings on the fly.
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