Samsung created the NV series of digital cameras to fulfill its need for stylish, high-end shooters. They can be easily recognised by their sleek black designs, blue-ringed lenses, and, in every case but last year's NV3, their unusual interface. Sitting among these quirky, attractive cameras is the compact NV10, a 10-megapixel shooter that measures just 18mm thick and weighs just over 170g. It's available online for around £170.
Like almost every other NV-series camera, the NV10 uses Samsung's unique Smart Touch interface. Rather than using a conventional joypad or a touch screen, Smart Touch uses a series of touch-sensor buttons along the bottom and right side of the camera's 64mm (2.5-inch) screen to control its various functions. Slide your finger along the sensors to navigate the camera's gridlike menu system. Once the cursor is over your choice, press down on the sensor button to confirm it.
With its rows of unmarked buttons, Smart Touch might seem intimidating at first, but it's surprisingly intuitive for accessing the camera's various commands. While its menus are easily navigated with the touch sensors, though, other options aren't quite so easy. Any action that needs navigating with a slider, whether it's browsing your old photos or adjusting manual focus, becomes painfully awkward with the NV10.
Since the camera doesn't have specific directional buttons, you must either repeatedly stroke the sensors in a given direction or stroke once and awkwardly hold your finger carefully over a sensor. Smart Touch also tends to be unforgiving to large-fingered users; big digits often accidentally brush against several of the camera's sensors at a time, causing them to misfire.
The NV10 uses a 35mm-to-105mm equivalent, 3x zoom lens that, while functional, isn't particularly wide or powerful. Some of its sibling cameras offer stronger 5x and 7x zoom lenses, though the 7x lens-equipped NV7 OPS and NV5 can capture 7-megapixel instead of 10-megapixel stills. While it doesn't use any mechanical or optical antishake system, the NV10 does offer Samsung's Advanced Shake Reduction, an ISO-boosting fast-shutter shooting mode that can help reduce blur when shooting zoomed-in or under low light.
Casual snapshooters will be pleased by the NV10's generous shooting options. Besides the standard automatic mode and the previously mentioned ASR mode, the NV10 offers 11 different shooting presets for portraits, parties, landscapes, and other common photographic situations. The camera also provides both program and manual control modes, letting users adjust sensitivity up to ISO 1,000, white balance, and aperture and shutter speed.
Curiously, the NV10 doesn't feature aperture- or shutter-priority modes, so you'll have to adjust both settings individually. An onscreen exposure meter can help make sure your manual shots get properly exposed, but it's not quite as useful as priority settings would have been.
Though not particularly fast in any given category, the NV10 performed decently in our tests. After a 3-second wait from power-on to first shot, we could fire off a new photo every 2.1 seconds thereafter with the flash turned off. With the onboard flash enabled, that wait increased only slightly to 2.3 seconds.