Battle Test: Samsung NV3

Oh man I love this camera. I’ve had it for a handful of weeks now and it’s become an absolute staple of my pocket. Now admittedly, I haven’t tried every point-and-shoot, pocket camera on the market, but I’m going to venture a guess that the Samsung NV3 is probably the best one to be had.

Pocket cameras are a necessity for any photography nerd. I have a Canon EOS-30D that I love, but she’s a little fat around the hips and sometimes I’m embarrassed to be seen in public with her.

I used a Canon PowerShot S50 as my point-and-shoot for a long time. It’s a great camera, but a bit too large to be a legitimate pocket camera. Couple its size with the fact that I essentially smashed the case and the stage was set for early retirement. I searched for a viable replacement for a long time and came up blanks for quite awhile.

I’m relieved to say that my search ended the day the Samsung NV3 arrived on my doorstep. The NV3 packs a 7.2MP punch that I found to be more than adequate for the types of shots I expected to use it for. It comes in a tiny case that is about the size of a cell phone and flat enough to fit comfortably in my back pocket. And the case isn’t just a stylish feature, it’s an incredibly functional one—I never once questioned its durability.

The camera can only shoot to ISO 1000, but I found it to be more capable of shooting in low light than that of similar models that I’ve tried. Well-lit shots come out beautiful. I’ve taken to leaving my SLR behind more-and-more because the NV3 is such a capable little beastie.

A big highlight of this device is its ability to function a full PMP, meaning it can play audio and video files. There are some problems with playing video though in that all files need to be converted to a proprietary XviD format. It’s a bit of a pain in the ass that admittedly deterred me from watching video on it. I was, however, able to stop carrying my iPod and simply using the NV3 for music. The sound quality is respectable and there are two stereo speakers concealed on the top of the case.

Another issue I had with the NV3 was the zoom. The 3x optical zoom is sufficient, but because the zoom switch is horizontal, it can be difficult to toggle while aiming the camera. This can get pretty irritating because it can often unsteady your shots when you’re trying to do everything on the go. Also, and I could be wrong about this, I don’t think there is a way to make the camera stop before going into digital zoom. There is a little indicator bar on the zoom gauge, but it’d be better if you could set it to pause before entering optical. Finally, the anti-shake function can be a little slow, but it definitely produces solid images.

So the moral of the story is thus: the NV3 is not perfect, but definitely my favorite pocket camera I’ve encountered. I’m giving it my first ever Best Bytes award, because I really like this product despite its minor flaws. It does exactly what I need it to do and adds a bit of icing to the cake as well. The Samsung NV3 can be had for about $300.