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Samsung MultiView MV800 Overview

Posted: 09/01/2011

Samsung's DualView cameras have proven to be a hit since the series was first launched some two years ago, far exceeding the company's sales expectations to become its best-selling models. The design answered a market demand for a camera that provided a simple, friendly way to frame self-portraits, a pretty popular use case in the age of social networking. The design of the DualView series always had a couple of limiting factors, however. With much of the camera's front panel given over to the lens, space was at a premium. Duplicating the LCD panels also added another line item to the bill of materials. These two facts conspired to mean that the secondary LCD panel was of extremely limited size--just 1.5 inches in the earliest DualView models, growing to 1.8 inches by the most recent designs.

The Samsung MultiView MV800 digital camera aims to fix all that, with a new design that still answers the needs of self-portrait fans, but without the need for a second LCD panel. The answer was to implement an articulation mechanism, something we've seen from many other manufacturers over the years, although perhaps not quite like this. Where typically it's only the LCD itself that is articulated, and the mechanism is generally mounted at the bottom or side of the camera, the Samsung MV800 instead covers the camera's entire rear surface with a top-mounted, flip-up panel. When folded up, the 3.0-inch LCD provides far more surface area with which to judge image composition.

While we've questioned top-mounted articulation mechanisms on the rare occasions in which they've cropped up in the past, with no popup flash or hot shoe to block the screen on the MV800, there's no such criticism here. The design does have a slight quirk, though, in that with the screen swiveled upwards on a relatively slim body, there's no easy way to reach the top-mounted shutter button (and for that matter, it appears to be largely obscured by the screen itself. Samsung has solved that problem with two other changes, however. The MV800 has a secondary physical shutter button located near top and center on its rear panel, hidden underneath the articulated LCD panel until its raised. This button should be in roughly the right place to reach with an index finger while aiming the camera at yourself, whether you're a left- or right-hander. If not, though, then there's also a capacitive touch-panel overlay on the LCD itself, and we understand that the MV800 includes a touch shutter function on the panel.

We're curious to see how the MV800 handles in person, however, as it would seem that more traditional articulation mechanisms may still have a couple of advantages. Both come due to the lack of any swivel function. Unlike typical tilt/swivel designs, there's no way to close the LCD panel facing inwards, providing a modicum of protection against minor bumps, scratches, and smudges. Perhaps more importantly, though, there's no way to tilt the screen downwards, meaning that for shots over a crowd at a concert or similar--another fairly common use case for the Facebook crowd--there's no better viewing than on a standard camera with a fixed LCD panel.

The articulated, touch-screen LCD is obviously the attention-grabber on the MultiView MV800's design, but there are certainly quite a few other features likely to prove popular with its target market. Social networking fans crave immediacy, and that means a need for instant sharing. For that reason, Samsung has foregone the commonplace Secure Digital card format in the MV800, in favor of tiny Micro SD / Micro SDHC cards. Quite commonly used by smartphones, these cards will allow MV800 owners to take their images and upload them immediately via their phone. The MV800 also includes a customisable user interface reminiscent of that on a cell phone, with built-in apps for functions such as photo editing or self-portrait capture accessed via icons that the user can drag-and-drop around the screen. A generous selection of in-camera smart filters and magic frames allow photographers to tweak their images to achieve the look they're after without a computer, perfect if you're planning on sharing them immediately.

The Samsung MV800 is based around a 16-megapixel CCD image sensor, and a 5x optical zoom lens that offers the range from a useful 26mm wide angle to a moderate 130mm telephoto. Maximum aperture varies from f/3.3 to f/5.9 across the zoom range, and the lens includes true optical image stabilization. ISO sensitivity ranges from 80 to 3,200 equivalents. As well as still images, the MV800 can record high-definition 720p video clips. Connectivity includes both Micro HDMI and Micro USB ports, and the latter allows for charging the battery in-camera via USB power.

Pricing and availability for the Samsung MultiView MV800 had not been disclosed at press time.