Anyone buying a large-megapixel camera that has the advantage of point-and-shoot simplicity and price these days will find a number of options but one common factor: they all cut corners somewhere to keep the price accessible. The Samsung Digimax V700, one of the company's two 7-megapixel offerings in this category, does so by skimping almost everywhere except for its design. The result? An attractive, pocketable, and relatively inexpensive snapshot camera that's a little too slow for action shots or dimly lit subjects and a little too soft on focus.
The camera's 3X zoom lens, with a 35mm film-equivalent focal length of 38mm to 114mm, is unremarkable, perhaps even lackluster, in its range and aperture (f/2.8 at the wide end and f/5.1 at the telephoto). Macro images can be shot from 1.6 inches at the lens's wide angle. Though it uses a lens made by Schneider Optics, which makes some of the world's best magnifying loupes and enlarger lenses, the V700's pictures lack uniform sharpness and are plagued by distracting light artifacts such as fringing and blooming, as well as geometric distortion, which makes straight lines look curved despite its relatively narrow angle of view. Even at its lowest sensitivity setting of ISO 50, you can see and measure a surprising amount of noise. Two customizable white-balance settings, a decent auto-exposure system, and solid red-eye performance ameliorate the problems somewhat.
The V700, which can't process and shoot images at the same time, also fares poorly when quickness counts. Though it has very little shutter lag--0.4 to 0.5 second--it exhibits average to mediocre performance for its class in most of our speed tests, taking 2.7 seconds to take a shot after pressing the power button and more than 4 seconds between JPEG shots. Its burst shooting rate is well under 1fps. The camera also has trouble focusing in low light, and without a status LCD or many dedicated buttons, many common functions such as changing white balance and ISO sensitivity are buried under a menu system. You can take VGA-resolution, 30fps MPEG-4 movies with the V700, but viewed at actual size, they look washed out and can't rival those you can shoot with competitors such as the Casio Exilim EX-Z750.
On the other hand, the Samsung Digimax V700 does have a striking, compact body that can fit in a jacket pocket. Too bad we can't recommend the V700 for much besides sitting there and looking pretty.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|Shutter lag (typical)||Time to first shot||Typical shot-to-shot time|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Typical continuous-shooting speed|