There's one particular adjective that comes to mind when removing the MV800 from its box, and that's gorgeous. This camera is one of the most attractive compacts we've ever had the pleasure of looking at in quite some time, with sleek lines, black brushed-metal packaging and the centrepiece of it all: a flip-up 3-inch LCD screen. Behind the 5x optical zoom lens, which opens up to 26mm at its widest, sits a 16.1-megapixel CCD sensor.
Hinging from the top of the camera body, the screen can come up a full 180 degrees to face the same direction as the lens. For anyone familiar with previous Samsung cameras, you'll notice that this configuration is the newest iteration of the dual-screen system that has set the company apart from its rivals. Despite its Transformers-like leanings, the MV800 has a pretty practical use for its movable screen, and that is to take self-portraits. We'll get into this a little later.
The MV800 can sit back and rest on its screen if you so fancy.
Otherwise, the body itself is particularly tiny — just bigger than the overall size of a credit card, and thicker. This means that for larger hands, and even this reviewer's mitts, the MV800 can feel a tiny bit dainty. There is a wrist strap provided in the box, thankfully, which should definitely be affixed to avoid any accidents.
Samsung has always excelled at app-like camera interfaces, and the MV800 is no exception. The touchscreen is responsive, and has plenty of options for photographers of all skill sets (but no manual-exposure control). Choose from a range of filter effects like Funny Face, which warps the person's face in the photo, or Smart Filter, which applies effects like oil painting, zooming shot, cross filter, old film and more. The effect appears in real time before the shot is taken, so you can preview the look before hitting the shutter.
The app-like menu of the MV800.
Unfortunately, the resolution of the screen itself is unremarkable, at 288,000 dots, which makes composing and reviewing images a struggle sometimes, as there's not enough detail. The screen is also not particularly colour accurate. The MV800 uses the fiddly microSD card format to store its images.
An example of one of the MV800's filters in action: the old film effect.
It's pretty easy to see how vacuous one might become by using the MV800 in all of its self-portrait glory. Not only can you flip the LCD screen to preview yourself before snapping the shutter button, but there are also pose guides included. These guides have attractive models in flattering stances, which show up on the screen to indicate the most desirable photographic result. There's even an outline of the model overlaid on the screen, so you can copy the pose precisely.
An intelligent portrait mode takes three photos of the scene at the same time, capturing different angles and compositions, so you can choose the best result. For anyone wondering how you take a photo with the screen fully upright, facing the photographer, there is a second shutter button at the back that you can press to take the image.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Shutter lag with flash is particularly long, taking several seconds for the camera to focus and subsequently take the shot.
For all the things that the MV800 gets right, it is unfortunately let down significantly by its lacklustre image quality. While colours across the frame are punchy, there's a real issue with noise across all ISO levels. The lens is unable to resolve the resolution of the sensor in any satisfactory manner. This makes a lot of images simply unusable for cropping, enlarging or using at any magnification, because of the fuzzy detail present. For web resolution, you might just be able to get away with it (as you can see from the resized images in this review), but for printing or family keepsakes, the quality is just not there.
A 100 per cent crop (inset) of an image taken with the MV800, showing some of the worst chromatic aberration and halation that we have seen on a compact camera.
Dynamic range is significantly lower than we've seen from equivalent-level compact cameras, such as the Canon IXUS 115 HS. The lens also suffers from pronounced distortion at the wide end, as well as some of the worst chromatic aberration we have ever encountered from a compact. We actually found it really difficult to take a decent, noise-free image with this camera, without adding in any of the photo effects or filters.
On the plus side, focusing is mostly quick and accurate.
Video quality is also disappointing, at 720p, with a lack of sharpness and detail across the frame. The audio quality is satisfactory.
Exposure: 1/60, f/5.2, ISO 320
Exposure: 1/180, f/5.2, ISO 80
Exposure: 1/90, f/3.3, ISO 3200
Exposure: 1/90, f/5.2, ISO 80
The MV800 is a beautifully designed camera at an attractive price, but it is very difficult to recommend because it takes poor photos.