DCRP Review: Samsung NV7 OPS
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The Samsung NV7 OPS ($349) is the top-of-the-line model in the Korean manufacturer's line of premium digital cameras. It packs a 7 Megapixel CCD, 7X optical zoom lens, optical image stabilization, full manual controls, and a very unique user interface.
That unique interface is called Smart Touch, which I first saw on the NV10 that I reviewed last year. Instead of having buttons for specific purposes all over the camera, the NV7 has 13 "Smart Buttons" around the LCD. The function these buttons perform depend on what icon is above it. If I want to change the ISO sensitivity, I first press the second button from the right below the LCD. This brings up the available ISO settings, and I use the buttons on the right to select one.
In playback mode these buttons work as a sort of "scroll wheel" -- just run your fingers across the button buttons to move between photos. Sometimes the buttons are too sensitive (like when browsing photos) and sometimes not sensitive enough (like when using playback zoom), which is frustrating.
Back when I reviewed the NV10 I created a video that demonstrated how the Smart Touch system worked. Since the interface hasn't changed since then, I offer it to you again as a visual example of how you operate the NV7.
How does the feature-packed, well-built Samsung NV7 OPS perform? Find out now in our review!
Since the two cameras have much in common, portions of the NV10 review will be reused here.
What's in the Box?
The NV7 has an average bundle. Inside the box you'll find:
As is the case with many cameras these days, the NV7 has built-in memory instead of having a memory card included in the box. You'll find just 19MB of memory on this camera, which holds just five photos at the highest quality setting. That means that you'll want to buy a memory card right away, and I recommend picking up a 512MB or 1GB card to start. The camera supports both SD and MultiMedia memory cards, though not the newer and higher capacity SDHC format. The camera performs a little better with a high speed memory card, so it's worth spending a little more money for one.
The NV7 uses the same SLB-0837 lithium-ion battery as the NV10. This battery has 3.1 Wh of energy, which isn't very much these days. Samsung doesn't officially use the CIPA standard for their battery tests, but their methodology is almost identical. Here's how much battery life you can get out of it, with a comparison to other cameras in its class:
You don't need to have a graduate degree in math do see that the NV7's battery life is well below average. If you buy the NV7, buy an extra battery. Speaking of batteries, I must now launch into my speech about proprietary batteries like the one used here. They're expensive (about $40 a pop) and you can't use an off-the-shelf battery when they die, as you could with a camera that uses AA batteries.
Like the NV10, the NV7 OPS has a rather unique way of charging its battery. All you need to do is plug the included USB cable into the bottom of the camera and then connect it to your computer. A special adapter also lets you use a standard power plug, and you can also use the optional camera dock that I'll mention in a moment. Whichever way you do it, it'll take 150 minutes to fully charge the SLB-0837.
The NV7 includes a lens cap with retaining strap, so that big ol' 7X zoom lens will be protected from the elements.
There are just three accessories of note for the NV7 OPS. The first is a camera cradle, the SCC-NV1, which lets you charge the battery and connect to a TV at the same time. Next up we have a wireless remote control, which I believe is called the SRC-A3. And finally, there is a hard shell camera case -- the SCP-NV1. If you're wondering why I don't have links to pricing, it's because I can't find these things for sale in the U.S.
Samsung includes their Digimax Master software with the NV7. While not the most attractive or powerful software on the market, it gets the job done. Digimax Master is for Windows only -- there is no Mac software included with the camera (iPhoto will work fine, though).
The main screen of Digimax Master has the usual thumbnail view, and from this screen you can rotate, print, and e-mail photos. As you'd expect these days, the thumbnail size can be adjusted.
Double-clicking on an image opens the edit window. If you're editing a JPEG you'll find all kinds of tools on the left side of the screen, including an "auto enhance" option. There are also tools available for putting type (or drawings) on top of a photo.
Samsung's camera manuals have never been great, and the NV7's continues the tradition. You'll find what you're looking for -- it will just take a lot of looking.
Look and Feel
All four of the Samsung NV cameras have a similar, stunning design. They have a sleek black matte body that seems as if it was cut from a solid block of metal. The NV7 is probably the must unusual-looking of the group, with its bulbous lens protruding from an otherwise slender frame. Build quality is superb in almost all areas, with the battery/memory card compartment being the only minor weak point.
While the camera can be held and operated with one hand, Samsung has placed a finger rest on the top-left of the camera, which helps you steady the camera a bit more.
Now let's take a look at how the NV7 OPS compares to other cameras in its class: