REVIEW DATE: 10.07.08
Total posts: 1 Check Prices by PJ Jacobowitz The 10.2-megapixel Samsung NV24HD is a point-and-shoot for camera enthusiasts. Its retro, all-black look gives it the appearance of an old-school film camera, but it houses some very advanced features. The NV24HD has a vivid AMOLED (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) display that can be viewed in bright sunlight, and it's able to record video in high definition (720p at 30 frames per second). The camera's 14-button menu matrix will definitely intimidate novice digital photographers, but if you are looking for a higher-end point-and-shoot or a lowcost way to shoot HD video, this might be the camera for you. To shutterbugs used to the more modern, ergonomic design of cameras like the Canon PowerShot SD890 IS, the Samsung's bulky feel will be off-putting. Yes, the camera weighs only 145.5 grams and measures only 2.3 by 3.75 by 1 inches (HWD), but its boxy shape and odd button layout make it seem larger. The NV24HD uses a SchneiderKreuznach glass lens whose focal length is 4.3mm to 15.5mm (the 35mm equivalent is 24mm to 86.6mm), which provides a wide-angle view, and its aperture ranges from f/2.8 to f/5.9. The camera lens also features a 3.6X optical zoom. SLIDESHOW (6)
The back of the camera houses the bleeding-edge AMOLED screen. This new Slideshow | All Shots technology offers an extremely high contrast ratio, produces virtually no motion blur, and requires little power. AMOLED displays are still very expensive to produce, so the 2.5inch-screen is a little smaller than those found on most point-and shoot cameras these days. Even so, Samsung manages to pack an impressive 230,000 pixels onto that screen. To put that in perspective, Sony uses the same
number of pixels in the 3.5-inch LCD on its Cyber-shot DSC-T300. Because the pixels are closer together, the NV24HD's screen looks much sharper. The screen is also viewable in direct sunlight, unlike the screens on many cameras that are geared for the outdoors, including the waterproof Olympus Stylus 1030SW. When shooting in natural light I had terrific results, but images shot with the flash didn't turn out so well. The NV24HD's user interface feels like something you would see on a concept car at an auto-show: an interesting idea that was never intended to make it to market. The AMOLED screen is surrounded by no less than 14 buttons. Eight buttons run along the screen's x-axis, and the other six run along its y-axis. To select options, you push a button on the x-axis and then choose from the options now represented by buttons on the y-axis ( see slideshow for details ). Those who want simplicity might find this very intimidating; those who like to tinker and play with settings might fall in love. As an expert, I liked the interface a great deal, but I wouldn't recommend this as someone's first digital camera. When put through its paces, the NV24HD performed very well. On our shutter lag tests, I found that the camera was able to turn on and snap a shot in an average of 3.01 seconds. Without the flash engaged, the camera averaged 1.58 seconds between shots; that's a lightning-fast recycle time for a point-and-shoot. Without prefocusing, the NV242HD averaged 0.63 seconds, a respectable time that is a tad behind the superfast PowerShot 890 IS, which averaged 0.36 seconds, but a mile a head of other trusted brand names such as Nikon's Coolpix S210, which averaged 1.32 seconds. In my lab testing, the NV24HD's image results were mixed. Using Imatest, I found the camera captured an average of 1,822 horizontal lines per picture height on an ISO chart, which is pretty good for a 10MP camera, but Canon cameras such as the 7.1MP $199 PowerShot SD1000 capture 2,000 lines or more. Pictures taken with the NV24HD come out looking crisp on my computer monitor but don't retain this sharpness when you zoom in. When shooting with the telephoto lens functionality, my tests showed that the barrel distortion was a bit heavier than average. The same goes for the amount of pincushion distortion at the lens's wide-angle position. However, since images on the test grid were warped in parallel distances and were not crooked, real-world photos did not seem to be affected by either deformation. When analyzing shots of the X-Rite Color Checker at different ISO settings, noise was acceptable at ISO 800 and below. Basically, the NV24HD works well in perfect conditions where a flash is not necessary—outdoors on a sunny day, for instance—since you're likely to use an ISO setting of 400 or less. Outdoor shots with the Samsung NV24HD were at times indistinguishable from those produced by top-of-the-line 10MP point-and-shoot cameras like the Canon SD890 IS. Images I shot of walls covered in brightly colored promotional posters kept similar color tones when I looked at them later on my PC. To my eye, there was no noticeable difference in colors. The NV24HD showed character when I took a shot of the sky. Like the Kodak EasyShare V1073, the NV24HD captured the sky color in a beefy blue that looked great but was not accurate. This isn't a ding; most cameras use brighter or darker shades of color to enhance images and make them more pleasing to the eye. Accurate colors are not always desirable colors; for example, manufacturers often adjust their cameras so skin tones don't come out looking pale. Inside performance with the flash was good but not on a par with that of other highly regarded cameras like the Cyber-shot DSC-T300 and the PowerShot 890 IS. When compared with images from the PowerShot 890 IS, it was clear that the NV24HD's photos had muted color tones. When shooting indoors without the flash, however, pictures up to ISO 800 had much less noise than those from your average point-and-shoot. Samsung includes all the usual features you'll find on competing point-and-shoot cameras: face detection, image stabilization, scene settings, and so on. But even with 14 buttons on the back of the camera, there are dials that control features in certain modes. Another nuisance is that the flash mode in the automatic setting can only be toggled between off, auto, or red-eye. Fill was not an option. This is a basic feature that should be included in the automatic setting. Shooting high-definition video is the NV24HD's strong suit. Just keep the image stabilization on, and you will be dazzled by the 1,280-by-720, 30-fps video and stereo audio. File sizes are relatively small too, since the NV24HD records video using the H.264 codec. A 1-minute HD video took up just 47.1MB of space. Compare that with the PowerShot 890 IS, which stored a 1-minute standard-definition (640-by-480, 30-fps) video in a 110MB file. Canon's SD video looks great, too, since it's not compressed, but the Samsung's compressed HD video looks much better. When I resized the window I used to view the Canon's video file to make it as large as the one for the Samsung's HD video, the Samsung's video was much sharper. Moreover, Samsung's HD video file was half the size and almost twice the resolution—what's not to like?
Viewing your photos and HD movies is extremely simple. Samsung offers a cradle (with a tiny remote) that connects the camera to your HDTV via HDMI; it's priced at $79.99. Docking solutions from competitors like the EasyShare V1073 use component cables to connect to your television; these connections are analog and susceptible to noise. At $349, the NV24HD is pretty expensive for a point-and-shoot camera. The innovative user interface, which beginners may find overwhelming, and weak indoor shots hold it back from being a camera for mainstream users, but the AMOLED screen and HD video capture features make it an intriguing option nevertheless. Benchmark Test Results Check out the Samsung NV24HD's test scores.