A Samsung NV11 landed in my lap (review)

It’s been quite some time since I’ve been amazed by the "wow" factor of a simple point-n-shoot camera. As manufacturers race to cram every imaginable feature into the smallest form factor imaginable, you begin to see super compact cameras with monster resolutions that are almost too small, dainty, or susceptible to damage with slightest mishandling. After taking delivery of a Samsung NV11, my immediate impression was "this camera looks and feels solid"; a camera that looked as though it were carved out of a solid chunk of metal.

Samsung NV11 - Front

Front view of the Samsung NV11 digital camera. Solid housing and a Schneider lens to capture images w/ a resolution up to 10.1 mega pixels. The only drawback is that the lens does not sit flush with the body.

Jutting out from the front of the housing is a Schneider Varioplan 7.8-39mm lens. What sets the NV11 apart from the rest of the point-n-shoot options is the lens which juts out the front side of the camera. It’s not the prettiest camera on store shelves, but surely meets the standards of a specific user looking for an everyday point ‘n shoot built like a tank.

Samsung NV11 - Top

In it’s powered-off state, the NV11 lens housing juts out of the front side of the camera. Within due time, you begin to look past this physical "inconvenience" after enjoying the zoom capability of the camera.

The Samsung NV11 specs

Not your typical point-n-shoot camera, the Samsung NV11 offers a great selection of options and features including one of the trickest grid-like interfaces (which reminded me of playing Battleship). Using a series of horizontal and vertical touch sensitive buttons, the NV11 offers an intuitive interface for navigating camera options or adjusting image settings on-the-fly.

  • Image Sensor: 1/1.8" CCD, 10.1 MP
  • Lens: Schneider 7.8-39mm, F2.8 – F4.4, 5X Optical Zoom, 11.4X Digital Zoom
  • LCD: 2.7" TFT LCD
  • Shutter: Auto: 1 – 1/2000, Manual, S Mode: 15 – 1/2000 , Night: 15 – 1/2000
  • Facial Recognition – Coupled with the Advanced Shake Reduction, blurry portraits are a thing of the past.

The list of specifications is long winded and includes various exposure, flash, sharpness, effects, white balance, and voice & movie recordings. Enjoy the ability to record DVD quality videos at an amazing 30 fps.

A larger point ‘n shoot

Pike St.

Driving down Pike St. (Seattle) – George Bush Federal Courthouse and Space Needle in the distance

Serious allergies

Up close, giant serving of Pesto atop a salmon omelet at CJ’s Cafe.

As many others believe, actions & images speak louder than words. Thanks to the intuitive interface, simple learning curve, and overall simplicity, it was possible to spend more time shooting rather than flipping through the manual. The solid build and size coupled with the Anti-shake mechanism allowed for clear un-blurred candid images.

Likes and dislikes

I am by no means a professional photographer, but I do enjoy trick looking gadgets that manage to turn heads or raise eyebrows. The Samsung NV11 is not your usual Canon SD – the large lens protruding out the front of the camera makes others wonder "is that a point ‘n shoot?"

Likes

  • High Sensitivity up to ISO 1600
  • 10.1 MP – Pixels aren’t everything, but the NV11 matches my Nikon D80 (for pixels).
  • Solid build quality and industrial strength aesthetics.
  • Intuitive touch interface – glide your fingers across the sensors horizontally & vertically to manipulate settings, edit photos, apply effects, or browse.
  • Large screen – no wonder the camera is on the larger side.
  • On board photo editing and effects – frame, add drop shadows, frames, rounded corners, etc. (Skip the post processing and add image effects directly on the camera and print).
  • USB cable charging – charge via USB using the wall adapater or your computer.

Dislikes

  • No memory card – I understand that it is becoming the norm not to include a memory card, but a 512 MB wouldn’t hurt.
  • Image distortion with Advanced Shake Reduction enabled. See the Pike St. (Seattle) image above.
  • Slow start-up time – a little bulkier and slower to start compared to standard point ‘n shoot cameras.
  • Bulky hard lined housing and obtrusive lens; check out the the compact sibling Samsung NV3 (7.2 MP).
  • Weak flash
  • Noticeable noise at ISO 100-400.

Discuss - 20 Comments

  1. Adam C. says:

    I must be missing it, is there distortion on the Pike St. picture?

  2. Derek says:

    Look at the sides of the photograph. More specifically, the curving buildings and light pole.

  3. CJ says:

    The NV11 is an awesome camera its the new lomo.

  4. Dumitru Tira says:

    I absolutely love this camera’s aesthetics! simply fantastic!!!

  5. Tim says:

    “Pixels aren’t everything…”

    Actually, once you get over 5 MP additional pixels make almost no discernable difference. The main difference is often negative, as the file size increases significantly.

    Probably one of the most important things is Noise (i.e., you don’t want it), which unfortunately pervades the NV11. “Noticeable Noise at ISO100″ is really bad, an absolute deal-breaker for even half-way serious photographers.

  6. rabsteen says:

    seems like it’s comparable to Canon’s Powershot G7. I’ll stick with Canon.

    :)

  7. Derek says:

    [quote comment="49279"]I’m yet to make the jump to digital because most higher-end digital cameras are advertised with a thousand and one features when I only need maybe three. I just want a camera that takes great pictures…

    About the distortion in the Pike St. pic: Could that be more down to the lens than the camera itself? You should have to get another lens, but at least you could remedy the problem if that’s the case.[/quote]

    The NV11 is sure marketed offering a quite a number of features, but most of these are buried or hidden from view unless shooting in Programmed mode.

    Concerning the distortion and possible cause being the lens – unfortunately the lens is permanently affixed to the front of the camera.

  8. Jonic says:

    The NV11 is an awesome camera its the new lomo.

    That’s a thought that crossed my mind too…

    Although I don’t think it could be called the new lomo, the design of the camera and it’s focus on simplicity (pun unintended) did make me think of the Lomo style of camera design.

    I still have a Lomo Fed5, which was built circa 1972. The NV11 kind of evoked the same feeling in me when I saw it.

    I’m yet to make the jump to digital because most higher-end digital cameras are advertised with a thousand and one features when I only need maybe three. I just want a camera that takes great pictures…

    About the distortion in the Pike St. pic: Could that be more down to the lens than the camera itself? You should have to get another lens, but at least you could remedy the problem if that’s the case.

  9. Joe Jacobs says:

    Thanks for the review! I’m actually looking for a camera right now, this just gives me more options, and I need them.

    Unfortunately I have to fix my car first.

  10. Thanks for the review! I’ve been thinking about buying this camera too. Although this is a great camera, I couldn’t help but to try searching for a better camera. I found the Samsung S850. It’s a great camera, and it’s possible to get for less then $200! It’s great because it has aperture and shutter priority. Sadly it doesn’t have anti-shake system, which can be a plus to you. Have fun with your new camera!

  11. Shopper says:

    Theres a helluva lot of pesto in that baked potato! :)

  12. Drew says:

    I have the “compact sibling” NV3 and use it to take all the pictures on http://flickr.com/people/drewgolkar. I swear by it, and if the NV11 is anything like it I’ll swear by it too.

  13. Mike Neville says:

    No card slot??????? Darn…it’s such a hot looker, but I’ll keep looking.

  14. Derek says:

    Who said there wasn’t a card slot? It’ll accept any SD card – loaded with a 1GB card right now which has room for approx. 1400 images at 7MP.

  15. Meaghan says:

    What exactly is “noticeable noise”? I’ve been wondering for a while.

  16. Derek says:

    Noise referring to grainy looking images.

  17. Ben says:

    Im seriously looking at one of these cameras. I played around with one at Fry’s yestersay and liked the gridded touch sensitive controls. Seems like once you spent 15 minutes and really nailed it down you could operate it very quickly.

    And the comparison to the G7 isnt exactly fair. As the Samsung is far more compact and about two hundred dollars less. I played with the G7 and it felt a bit bulky to throw in your pocket, the size of the NV11 seemed more suitable for a take-everywhere camera.

  18. LarryArnold says:

    Thanx for posting this. We own a Sigma SD10 DSLR (of course) and want a SMALLER pocket-type camera for traveling. Torn btwn the dynamic style and 5x of the NV11 vs the Panasonic TZ3 w/ its 10x (or is it 8x) lens. Reviews of both cameras span wide ranges likes/dislikes.

    But one thing comes up often, and in ur review too, about the NV11: “Noticeable Noise at ISO100-400″ for the NV11. If this is so, Samsung has screwed itself; or those who praise its pix quality are too easily pleased. Aren’t these the ‘ISO’ settings most often shot at? Noise at 100 ISO??? Ironically we read one user’s comments that at ISO 1600, the noise was negligible. How could this be??

    Ur pix of the Seattle skyline suggests marked barrel distortion too, and not just at the edges of the frame. This too is a serious weakness, unless u can offer a satisfactory explanation.

    We must make a purchasing decision SOON. Ur feedback will be most welcomed, as u have actually used this remarkably designed camera. But, bottom line, will the NV11′s pictures be remarkable to someone who’s taken award-winning photographs w/ an AE-1? And yes, we DO expect less-than-identical image quality from a small DSLR compared to Kodachrome shot w/ a Canon. Thanx!

  19. Derek says:

    Larry, I would recommend looking elsewhere. The NV11 is a great camera for casual photographers – say my father. But noticeable quirks – including noise and distortion – are difficult to ignore. I can’t speak for the Panasonic, but it is definitely something I’m going to have to check out.

  20. samsung NV11 says:

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