We love it when camera manufacturers take a gamble on unusual and innovative features, but we also recognise that these gambles don't always pay off.
The Samsung 10-megapixel NV15 is the latest in the NV line, known for its 'smart touch' user interface. The slinky NV15 is available now for around £160, but the interface will probably divide opinion.
The NV series share a similar classy retro look. They all include solid black metal frames and a blue stripe around the lens. A pop-up flash, mode wheel and chunky hand grip complete the SLR-esque styling cues. These looks made us think the NV15 would be bigger, so we were pleased to find how compact it is.
The 64mm (2.5-inch) screen feels rather small, but it has higher resolution than most, plus three different lighting settings. We do like the slightly protruding vertical zoom switch, which has more travel than the flat buttons on many compacts. We also liked the single connection for charging the camera and transferring files. Our favourite thing about the NV15, however, is the way the control buttons work.
We really like smart touch. The touch-sensitive buttons line the right-hand side and bottom of the screen. Pressing a button on one axis calls up a menu, from which you make your selection using the buttons on the opposite axis. The touch-sensitive buttons also operate as a slider for intuitive adjustment of options such as shutter speed and other shooting settings.
Once you have got the hang of it, it's a wonderfully simple, intuitive and tactile system. We love using it, especially in program and manual modes when aperture and shutter speeds can be adjusted. But the system is unconventional, so it is essential that you try the camera yourself if thinking of making a purchase.
The only time smart touch doesn't work is when selecting a scene mode, which would have been better served by a grid rather than a clunky horizontal menu.
Also included is a 3x optical zoom, face recognition, in-camera red-eye fix, aperture and shutter priority and one of the most satisfying shutter noises we've ever heard.
The Schneider-Kreuznach lens is equivalent to a somewhat mediocre 34mm on a 35mm camera at the wide end. Macro function allows you to get as close as 4cm from your subject.