Samsung MV800 £250
8th Dec 2011 | 16:01
Tilting touchscreen and 16MP on a compact camera
The key feature of the Samsung MV800 is of course its tilting screen, which makes it one of the only compact cameras to feature an adjustable screen, especially at this price point. While other screens articulate round to the side of a camera, the Samsung MV800's flips up to the top, making it the world's first compact camera to feature such a screen.
The Samsung MV800 is designed to fit alongside the 2View range of cameras that Samsung introduced a couple of years ago and that feature dual screens, one being on the front of the camera to help with composing self and group portraits.
Helpfully, the compact camera's 3-inch screen also features the ability to flip over if the camera is turned upside down, so you can use it from all manner of awkward angles.
Further good news is that the screen is touch-sensitive, so it can be used to control the camera.
Other specs on board the Samsung MV800 include a 16.1 million pixel sensor, a 5x optical zoom lens that features a 26mm wide angle, Live Panorama and art filters.
HD video recording at 720p is also available.
The Samsung MV800 can be picked up for around £200, which, for a compact camera of this size and specification is fairly expensive. Presumably that extra money is paying for the novel touchscreen.
But does this camera deliver in terms of image quality and ease of use as well as boasting this unique feature? Let's see.
Build quality and handling
The Samsung MV800 is small and sleek, and even with the added bulk of the flip-out screen it is more than pocket and handbag friendly.
The camera features minimal physical buttons, with only Home and Playback buttons on its rear. The rest of the features are operated by the touchscreen.
Along with the obvious shutter release atop the camera, behind the flip-out screen is an extra shutter release button to enable you to take shots when the screen is fully extended. It's a good idea in principle, but we found it a little awkward to reach at times, especially when holding the camera upside-down to take photos from high angles.
As well as the rear shutter release button, the camera cleverly knows when it's being held upside-down and adjusts the display accordingly, so you won't have problems composing shots.
The Samsung MV800's touchscreen is used for a manner of different operations, including changing settings, scrolling through images taken and making edits.
Although not the worst touchscreen we've come across on a compact camera, it can be a little unresponsive at times, and therefore frustrating to use.
There is room for a couple of extra buttons on the back of the camera, so it's a shame more weren't incorporated. It's also worth noting that when shooting in cold conditions, the touchscreen becomes even harder to use.
As is expected of compact cameras of this type, there's not a great deal of manual control to be enjoyed on the Samsung MV800. Smart Auto can be used if you want to let the camera do everything for you, while Program does enable you to make changes to the white balance, ISO, exposure compensation and metering.
While the menu within Program Mode is laid out nicely and is easy to use, it can be a little frustrating having to dive back into sub menus every time you need to change something, such as ISO sensitivity, rather than having a dedicated quick menu for such simple changes.
The main menu, which is accessed via the Home button, features a wide range of options, including the usual features such as Smart Auto and Program mode, along with other scene modes, art filters and editing modes such as Photo Editor.
Including art filters on compact cameras is a pretty common move now, with most manufacturers offering some variation. On the Samsung MV800, some are more appealing than others. We have, of course, the ubiquitous Miniature Mode, which aims to replicate the effect of using an expensive tilt-shift lens on a DSLR, but there's also Vignetting, Old Film, Soft Focus, Half Tone, Retro, Fish-eye, Oil Painting and more.
Other editing and fun options are available on the camera, including Magic Frame, which enables you to use one of a selection of different pre-set frames to surround the subject of your photo, and Funny Face, which enables you to use fun distortion effects on portraits.
Overall, the quality of photos from the Samsung MV800 is reasonable, but not spectacular, given the £200 price point.
Although images are mainly bright, with well-represented colours, we found more than one instance of softness. And at 100% on the computer, some edges appear to have been rendered a little harshly, while some fine details are smudged.
While in Auto mode, the camera also seems to have the tendency to underexpose.
Thankfully, chromatic aberration is minimal, although we did find some evidence of fringing in some of our photos.
While using the camera in Smart Auto mode, the camera does a reasonable job of detecting the scene presented in front of it, including detecting close-up shots to deploy Macro Mode. The mode itself works well too, focusing to within just a couple of centimetres.
A number of filters are available to use on the Samsung MV800, which can be deployed either while the shot is being taken or applied once the photo is taken. This is handy when you want to have a "standard" version to work with at a later date.
The effectiveness of the different filters is varied, with Miniature mode working best from high viewpoints, but still not producing a totally convincing effect. Oil Painting and Cartoon are interesting, and produce realistic-seeming artistic effects.
One of the odder elements of the camera is the Pose Guide, which includes a variety of inbuilt photos for you to attempt to recreate by providing a model outline to work with. In theory, it's supposed to help you achieve flattering photos, but in reality it's just a bit strange and doesn't work all that well.
The ability to take panoramic shots is something that is becoming increasingly prevalent in many different cameras, including compacts.
The Live Panorama mode on the Samsung MV800 works in much the same way as Sony's Sweep Panorama. Simply hold down the shutter button while moving the camera across the scene for a panorama photo to be captured.
It takes some practise to get the panorama to work well. On our first attempt, there were several blurred areas in the picture, perhaps suggesting we had moved the camera too fast. After a while, though, you should come to understand how slowly you need to move. Converting the shots into a panoramic image is pretty quick, taking only a couple of seconds.
The touchscreen, which is the big selling point of this camera, is unfortunately also its biggest letdown. While the 180-degree tilting is a good idea, and will be welcomed by those who like to take self-portraits, the screen quality itself leaves a lot to be desired.
On several occasions, we were unsure whether a photo we shot was in focus, because it appeared soft and even blurry on the rear view screen. On checking the photos on a computer screen, we could see that the photos were fine.
This is obviously a major downfall, because it means you're unlikely to realise when a photo actually does need reshooting.
It's also disappointing for a camera that costs around £200 to be equipped with such a poor screen.
As with other Samsung compacts, the MV800 uses a microSD card, which should be noted before buying it because they're not as prevalent as the full-sized version, so it's likely you'll need to buy a new card.
It also means that anybody with an SD card reader built into their computer will need to invest in an adaptor or specialist card reader or plug the camera directly into the camera.
Image quality and resolution
As part of our image quality testing for the Samsung MV800, we've shot our resolution chart.
If you view our crops of the resolution chart's central section at 100% (or Actual Pixels) you will see that, for example, at ISO 100 the Samsung MV800 is capable of resolving up to around 18 (line widths per picture height x100) in its highest quality JPEG files.
Examining images of the chart taken at each sensitivity setting reveals the following resolution scores in line widths per picture height x100:
ISO 80, score: 20 (see full image)
ISO 100, score: 18 (see full image)
ISO 200, score: 16 (see full image)
ISO 400, score: 16 (see full image)
ISO 800, score: 16 (see full image)
ISO 1600, score: 12 (see full image)
ISO 3200, score: n/a (see full image)
For a full explanation of what our resolution charts mean, and how to read them please click here to read the full article.
Noise and dynamic range
We shoot a specially designed chart in carefully controlled conditions and the resulting images are analysed using DXO Analyzer software to generate the data to produce the graphs below.
A high signal to noise ratio (SNR) indicates a cleaner and better quality image.
For more more details on how to interpret our test data, check out our full explanation of our noise and dynamic range tests.
JPEG images from the Samsung MV800 are on a par with those from the Fujifilm Finepix 550 EXR up to ISO 400. From this value the MV800 overtakes producing a better signal to noise ratio up to around ISO 1600.
This chart indicates that the Samsung MV800's JPEGs have a consistently lower dynamic range result than the Canon IXUS 220 HS, Nikon Coolpix S9100 and Fujifilm Finepix 550 EXR, showing the shadow and highlight tone is easily lost.
Colours produced by the MV800 are sharp and punchy, if a little oversaturated at times.
Focusing is relatively quick, allowing you to speedily grab images.
Taken with the lens at fully wide
Taken with the lens fully zoomed
Shot with "old film" filter
Shot with the "vignetting" filter
Shot with the "Soft Focus" filter
Shot with the "Half-tone dot" filter..
Shot with the "Fish-eye" filter
Shot with the "Classic" filter
Shot with the "retro" filter.
Shot with the "oil painting" feature
Shot with the "ink painting" filter
Shot with the "cartoon" filter
Shot with the "zooming shot" filter
Sensitivity and noise
Given the heavy advertising budget and the appeal of a flip-out screen, we can see the Samsung MV800 becoming a bestseller. Unfortunately, the quality of the pictures and the low quality of the screen let it down.
That said, there are other elements of the camera which definitely appeal. Its sleek body makes it extremely pocket-friendly, which is perhaps surprising considering the extra bulk that a moveable screen should add.
Filters and effects add a touch of fun, which should make it particularly appealing with families.
The Samsung MV800's flip-out screen is useful for composing self-portraits and group shots with minimal fuss, along with more awkward positions such as high and low angles. Some of the filters, frames and effects are genuinely quite fun to work with.
The screen quality meant that more than once we needlessly retook photos to make sure that at least one was in focus. Using the second shooting button on the back of the camera is a little cumbersome.
We wanted so much to like the Samsung MV800, but ultimately for the price point we think it's a disappointment and would encourage anyone thinking of buying this compact camera to wait and see if it reduces in price first.