HandlingThe MV800 is a nice-looking little compact. The brushed metal finish on the front face looks pretty sleek, and the rear face is a smooth, seamless panel housing the screen, its surround and two flat buttons set flush to the surface. Flipping the screen up (as below) reveals a plain, textured surface with a second shutter release button for taking self-portraits (see right). All in all, the camera is a bit too smooth to maintain good grip, but the design and build quality don't disappoint.
The LCD screen is a little less impressive, as the definition of just 288,000 dots makes onscreen images look visibly pixelated. Viewing angles, on the other hand, are nice and wide. The screen isn't quite bright enough for comfortable use outdoors, as in strong sunlight it's hard to see what's going on. Plus, the contrast is too high, which means dark areas of the picture flood together and light areas are soon washed out to white. There's a slight blue overtone and colour fidelity could be a whole lot better too. To sum up, you can't rely on the MV800 screen to reproduce images 100% correctly, so take care when sorting through and deleting photos!
The touchscreen interface is much the same as in the ST95. In other words, it's quite similar to a touchscreen smartphone interface, as you can scroll through lists and menus with a simple swipe of your finger. The transparent background effect in the menus is pretty stylish. However, you still have to press the physical 'Home' button in the bottom right corner of the camera's rear face to change the shooting mode—you can't just press the relevant icon onscreen, which would be a lot more practical.
The camera has a series of fun creative functions, such as a storyboard maker, a pose guide, and various filters and frames. You'll also find the usual bunch of shooting modes like auto, programme and scene mode. With all these options spread over four pages in the menu, you'll be spoilt for choice!
Note that the MV800 is only compatible with microSD cards, which are slower and less practical to handle than regular SD cards. Note too that the battery charge melts away like a snowball in the sun, which in turn makes the MV800 lose its fourth star in this part of the review.
ResponsivenessThe MV800 has the same internal electronics as the ST95, so it's no surprise to see similar results in this field. The start-up time and photo saving time are a little quicker, both coming in closer to two seconds rather than pushing three seconds like in the ST95.
The autofocus does a good job with our still test-lab scenes, working in under a second even in low light. In real-life situations, however, the MV800 is a little less responsive, which could soon become annoying.
Picture QualityThe Samsung MV800 has a 16-Megapixel CCD sensor and a 26-130 mm lens, making it identical to the ST95 ... on paper, at least.
As with all Samsung compacts loaded with this CCD, sensitivity is nothing to write home about. Noise is kept in check up to 400 ISO, but at this setting a speckling of noise and some smoothing do start to appear. From then on, everything basically becomes a fuzzy haze, with detail heavily smoothed out in an attempt to counteract digital noise.
Although the MV800 uses the same lens as the ST95, we did spot a few differences in quality. At wide-angle settings, for example, quality proved even less consistent across the frame, with blurring in the corners visible on an 8" x 10" print (20 x 27 cm). At 130 mm, the MV800 is no better than at wide-angle settings, with a passable level of sharpness in the middle of the frame that descends into blurring around the edges.
The optical stabilisation system does give this camera a very slight advantage over the ST95, as we managed a clear and consistently sharp shot in our Barbie without flash test at 1/8 ths of a second. It's nothing all that special (the Canon Ixus 115 HS, for example, does much better), but it's still better than the ST95.
VideoThe MV800 films 720p HD video, which is the minimum for a compact camera in 2012 really. The zoom is active in video mode but, unfortunately, image quality is only just acceptable due to the excessive contrast which floods dark areas and overexposes lighter zones. Audio quality is pretty bad too, as the mono mic captures muffled-sounding noises, as well as a kind of hissing sound that seems especially noticeable when you zoom.
- Very good build quality
- Original flip-out screen
- Compact design
- Poor sensitivity (800 ISO best avoided, 1600 ISO unusable)
- Responsiveness in real-life situations
- Touchscreen interface isn't always logical (e.g. choosing shooting mode)
- Low-grade mono sound
- No video record button, video image too contrasted
The Samsung MV800 is a stylish, attractive compact with a sleek touchscreen interface and an original flip-out screen. However, in spite of its physical charm, the MV800 isn't a camera we'd recommend—picture quality isn't up to scratch, it's too slow and the video mode is barely acceptable by today's standards.