The Samsung MV800 is the first compact camera we've seen that includes a flip-up screen so you can see yourself as you snap away -- and it's a touchscreen to boot. We gave the MV800 a quick poke and prod at its launch in Germany to see if this self-portrait machine has something to offer anyone except extreme narcissists.
The MV800 is a 16.2-megapixel compact camera with a 5x optical zoom and 26mm wide-angle lens. You'll be able to use it to shoot yourself from mid-September, and it will cost around £250.
The screen is hinged, and folds over the top of the camera, so you can see your face when you point the MV800 at yourself. That will be most useful for self-portraits or perhaps filming a video of yourself talking straight to camera.
When the screen is folded out, a handy spare shutter button is revealed on the back of the camera so you can easily take a picture.
The MV800 is the successor to recent Samsung cameras like the PL120, which boasts a small screen on the front, for lining up self-portraits or playing animations to make kids laugh. The screens on the front of the PL120 and its ilk are pretty small, whereas the MV800's display is much bigger. The extra size allows you to still see the screen when you hold the camera down low or up high above your bonce, such as when shooting over the heads of a crowd.
There are plenty of other features aside from the touchscreen. If you can't make up your mind about how to best tackle a photo, the camera can do it for you -- snap one photo, and it will automatically take two more at different zoom levels. Then you simply pick your favourite.
Budding filmmakers can shoot 720p high-definition video. You can zoom while filming and the camera will cancel the whirring noise so it doesn't ruin your cinematic masterpiece.
For wide-screen landscape shots, fire up the 'live panorama' function, hold down the shutter button, and sweep the camera across the scene you want to capture. The result is a panoramic vista, which you can also capture in 3D. You'll need a 3D television to view 3D pictures, though, and you can't see the 3D effect on the camera's own screen.
Effects and interface
More frivolous features include the 12 background templates. You can also personalise frames and backgrounds, and insert one photo into another. You can customise the background of the menu screens too.
There are 14 'smart filter' artistic effects, including a new watercolour effect or an option to cartoonify your photos. 'Funny face' lets you bend and stretch friends' faces by drawing on them with your finger.
To help your friends look their best, a 'pose guide' displays stick figures on the screen for your subject to try and emulate. Once the picture is taken, 'beauty shot' allows you to smooth out bumps and blemishes.
On a more serious note, the menus and options are presented in a grid of large, finger-friendly icons that should look familiar to smart-phone users. It's good to see camera makers presenting menus in a new and intuitive way to make the most of touchscreens, rather than presenting you with traditional menus and expecting you to tap on them.
The only physical buttons on the back are a button to see the photos you've already taken, and an iPhone-style home button. As an aside, Samsung is already in hot water for allegedly copying the look of Apple's iPhone and iPad, so making its cameras look similar to Apple's devices seems like asking for further trouble.
The MV800 is the first compact camera we've seen with a folding screen, and it deserves credit for that, but we're looking forward to the next generation, which will hopefully offer even more twisty-foldy action. The MV800 only offers one direction of folding, while many higher-end cameras and most camcorders include a screen that bends in all directions, allowing you to hold the device at any angle and still see the screen.
Packed with features that will appeal to the narcissist in you, the Samsung MV800 makes self-portraits and shooting at different angles easy. It's the first compact camera that boasts a flip-out screen and it's also one of the first to use phone-style icons on the touchscreen, which makes it one of the more innovative snappers of late. Stay tuned for the full review soon.
Edited by Charles Kloet