Samsung MV800 MultiView camera hands-on (video) By Zach Honig
posted Sep 1st 2011 5:00AM
There's nothing all that exciting about most point-and-shoot cameras. You point, they shoot, end of story. But Samsung has been shaking things up as of late. First, the TL220 and TL225 added a second, 1.5-inch LCD to the front of the camera, making up the company's 2009 lineup of DualView cams. We've never actually seen anyone using them on the street, but Samsung reps insist that they've been an absolute hit. Well alright then. This year, CES brought the company's remote-shooting-enabled SH100, which lets you use a Samsung-branded Android smartphone to frame, zoom, and capture images over WiFi. A rather obnoxious delay doesn't make this a blockbuster feature, but still, this is pretty imaginative stuff. Now this week at IFA, the company just introduced yet another completely original (and practical) camera design with its MV800. The camera's image quality isn't much to speak of (though we've only had a chance to use a pre-production model), but its MultiView flip-up LCD is pretty darn fantastic -- in concept, at least. The 16.1 megapixel cam's entire 3-inch capacitive touchscreen
flips from flush with the rear up to a 180-degree angle (and anything in between), making it possible to not only shoot perfectly framed self-portraits, but also to have a direct view of the display when shooting both below, and above eye level. We love to see manufacturers continue to push the envelope when it comes to innovation, but how did the $279 MV800 perform overall? Jump past the break for our impressions. Samsung MV800
When viewed directly from the front, the MV800 looks just like any other mid-level Samsung point-and-shoot camera. There's a 26-130mm, f.3.3-5.9 5x optical zoom lens, a super-thin built-in flash, and one of those little orange light things that's supposed to help the camera focus in lowlight. Yeah, the one that alerts your subject of an imminent candid shot, that's, well, not so candid anymore. There's also a power button, shutter release, and zoom slider up top -- all pretty standard stuff. But flip to the back, and you'll notice a hinge just above the 3-inch WQVGA display. That hinge is the only point of contact for the display, letting you rotate the thing so it's inverted above the lens facing forward, position it at a 90-degree angle, a 45-degree angle, or any other position on that single axis. That'll let you see your subject when holding the camera above your head, for shooting at concerts or at crowded events, or for when you need to be really sneaky, and want to shoot with the camera well below eye level. It's a very, very cool feature, and since it's useful for more than just self-portraits, it'll come in handy for just about any type of photographer.
Beyond that cool little hinge, the display itself has a capacitive touchscreen, which makes it just as responsive to touch as a smartphone. This is key for a touchscreen camera -- all
manufacturers need to pay attention here, and never, ever release another camera with a noncapacitive touchscreen. Things seem to go downhill from there, unfortunately. While innovative, the display is low-resolution, with a relatively sluggish response rate. A display of this quality isn't all that uncommon for a camera in this price range, but we'd really love to see Samsung step it up a notch. In fact, if it weren't for the magical hinge and capacitive touch, this display would have been a complete dud. There is one more pretty nifty feature: you can tap and hold a toplevel menu icon and drag it around, reordering main menu options to your liking. A rather minor detail, but one that we do like very much.
While we loved this new display concept (though not necessarily the display itself), the MV800 is definitely not a class-leader when it comes to image quality. In fact, it probably wouldn't even score in the top half of its class. Many images we shot weren't in focus, flash-lit images were uneven, and pictures have a significant amount of noise when shot in low light (in "Smart Auto" mode). Whenever we brought up image quality with Samsung reps, they immediately redirected the conversation to the camera's interface -- which is, admittedly, among the best we've seen, but can't compensate for poor image quality (UI makes a tablet, IQ makes a camera). The sample that we tested is pre-production, however, so it's quite possible that the version you pick up this fall will have vastly improved performance (we can dream, can't we?). If you're buying a camera for the user interface, and a not-so-gimmicky adjustable touchscreen, then you'll want to pay close attention here -- the MV800 may just be a winner. But if image quality reigns supreme, this certainly wouldn't be our first choice in the sub-$300 price range. Scroll on below for many more details from Samsung, and our very brief hands-on video, shot just a few miles from the IFA exhibit halls in Berlin.
(Video link: http://www.viddler.com/explore/engadget/videos/3121/)