When Samsung decided to target the more discriminating consumer with its NV-series (NV = New Voyage -- thrilling!) of "Lifestyle" digicams, it chose to forgo the rather staid aesthetic of most of its older models for more distinctive, high quality designs -- but as with so many other "fashionable" products, The Photography Blog reports that you're getting more sizzle than steak when it comes to the seven megapixel NV7. On first glance it would seem that this hybrid cam has the potential to be a real winner: besides the attractive looks and tight build quality, you're getting a Schneider lens with long 7x optical zoom, a welcome tag team of digital as well as optical image stabilization, and several manual control options for finicky photographers. Unfortunately, for all its attractive features, the NV7 just don't take a very good picture. While it supposedly handles chromatic aberrations well and makes good use of that optical stabilization, images tend to come out looking very noisy, even at a low ISO 100 (maximum ISO is 1000, but both that setting and ISO 800 and reportedly unusable). Other faults include the rather ineffective digital Advanced Shake Reduction option, a steep learning curve for getting accustomed to the 13 unlabeled soft keys bordering the 2.5-inch LCD, and the fact that optical stabilization turns off after every shutdown. But the main problem here is those grainy images, so unless you're willing to overlook picture quality for eye-catching design, it sounds like you're best off spending your ~$475 on a shooter that gives you better performance.

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