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 MV800See all photos
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 low-light. 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 non-capacitive 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 top-level 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.
Features 3.0" Wide Flip-out touch display for camera users to shoot, record and view life from all angles
IFA - BERLIN, Germany – September, 1, 2011 - Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd, a global leader in digital media and digital convergence technologies, today unveiled the Samsung MV800 camera, an ultra-compact point & shoot with a 3.0" touch-screen Flip-out LCD display. In combining the Flip-out LCD with an impressive suite of creative features, the MV800 enables users to capture life's moments from any angle and create images that reflect their unique perspective on the world.
The MV800 camera offers enhanced picture quality, capacitive touch screen technology, as well as many innovative and user-friendly features to ensure that all users can relax and enjoy their shooting experience. Consumers can be confident they will be able to capture even the most challenging shot whether they are behind or in front of the lens.
The MV800 camera builds on the success of Samsung's DualView technology and is the first premium compact model to feature a 3.0" Wide Flip-out touch-screen LCD Display. Samsung has designed the device in response to evolving consumer demands for maximum flexibility, ease-of-use, creativity and style.
The 3.0" Wide Flip-out display opens up a world of artistic possibilities. Whether it is capturing the perfect self portrait to polish an online profile or snapping photos from very high or very low angles -the MV800 allows users to capture images they've never even considered before. The unique screen tilts up and down so users can frame every shot, and easily view the images from any perspective. For fashion-forward consumers who place a premium on style, the device's ultra-slender design and contemporary metallic finish promise to make a lasting visual impact.
The Samsung MV800 camera offers an impressive 16.1 megapixels for premium picture quality, along with a 5x optical zoom and a 26mm wide-angle lens. By packing this technology into a sleek and slim device, the Samsung MV800 is the ideal camera for premium-quality image capture on the move.
While the flip-out display enables users to take shots from all angles, the unique Smart Touch 3.0 user interface ensures highly intuitive operation. Users can drag and scroll through menu options to launch the required feature with only one touch. Smart Touch 3.0 also keeps it fun by letting users customize their background image or wallpaper.
The innovative Live Panorama function, meanwhile, enables easy photography of large groups by simply holding down the shutter button, then previewing the whole scene that's being captured, via the LCD. Moreover, by simply connecting the Samsung MV800 to a 3D HDTV, images and panoramic shots can be viewed in outstanding 3D in-depth quality instantly.
"Our aim is to continually be at the forefront of digital compact camera innovation and the Samsung MV800 is the embodiment of that goal," said Mr. Myoung Sup Han, Senior Vice President and Head of the Digital Imaging Business, Samsung Electronics. "The Samsung MV800's unique ability to capture images from any angle, combined with its stylish and ultra-slim design demonstrates unparalleled Samsung innovation which we believe will appeal to every photographer, and establish a new benchmark for the industry."
Get Creative with Magic Frame and Picture-in-Picture Shot
The Samsung MV800 has been designed as more than just a camera - it is a creative tool for users to extract maximum enjoyment from every photographic opportunity. The Magic Frame feature includes 12 fun background templates, as well as the ability for users to customize their own. The camera's Picture-in-Picture function, meanwhile, lets users insert one image into another. The Flip-out display even allows consumers to snap a self-portrait and put themselves in the picture!
Maximize enjoyment with Smart Filter and Funny Face Features
Smart Filter allows users to express their own creativity, through a menu of 14 artistic effects, including the newly added Water Paint for a stylish watercolor finish or the Cartoon capability, transforming any photo into a fun animated film format. The fun doesn't stop there - Funny Face allows users to bend, stretch and manipulate portraits of loved ones by tapping and dragging to radically distort facial characteristics, ready to share and enjoy.
Capture the Perfect Portrait with Ease
The built in Pose Guide function advises users how to best get into position with line drawings on the LCD screen, so consumers can capture the optimum image from any angle. The device also provides the perfect picture in real time, with the easy-to-navigate Photo Editor function, allowing users to edit and rotate the image on the move. Loved ones and friends will also appreciate the Beauty Shot feature which edits out any imperfections, resulting in a flawless photo one can treasure and share forever.
Create a Story
The Samsung MV800 essentially allows the user to become the creative director of their own life, with innovative Storyboard Maker. Users can prepare a storyboard from the images they've shot by simply selecting the layout, and then placing the photos in order. Whether the MV800 is being used to create a movie of a night out with friends or fantastic family holiday, the photos can be laid out on the display as clearly as one imagines them.
Creative Intelligence at the User's Fingertips
To ensure users capture the best image possible to enjoy, share and impress, by simply snapping a wide-angle shot of a friend, the Samsung MV800 automatically searches out and captures two other strong images at different zoom ratios, giving users three great photos with one simple click! The photographer can choose which of the three to select – or simply keep them all.
HD Movie Capability in the Palm of the User's Hands
The Samsung MV800 also boasts HD recording capabilities, within a compact body that will fit into the palm of the user's hand. Enjoy consistently clear and crisp video with technology that allows consumers to capture special memories with a recording time of up to twice as long as standard MPEG4. The innovative zoom noise reduction technology, meanwhile, ensures that the only sound recorded will be the laughter and conversation of loved ones, not the whirring of the zoom.
The Samsung MV800's combination of industry-leading innovation, sophisticated design and the ultimate in user-friendly features, ensure total mobility, premium picture quality and maximum enjoyment. The Samsung MV800 is the perfect tool to not just capture an image but to tell a fun and creative story on the move.