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Conclusion - Pros

  • Excellent, clean resolution
  • Very reliable auto white balance
  • Comprehensive range of photographic controls
  • Good lens producing sharp results edge to edge
  • Decent macro mode
  • Excellent MPEG movie mode
  • Fast focus and good overall performance (though see cons, below)
  • Lots of 'value added' features including special effects
  • Favourite settings can be saved (MySet)
  • Most photographic controls accessible without using menus
  • Excellent value for money
  • Decent battery life

Conclusion - Cons

  • Images at default settings a little over-processed, over-sharp, over-contrasty
  • Some problems with blown highlights in wide dynamic range scenes
  • Noise more visible than most competitors
  • Shutter lag when using LCD too long
  • Mediocre burst mode, screen blanks out
  • Diffraction-related softness at smallest apertures
  • Controls and interface take a while to master
  • Screen difficult to see in bright light

Overall conclusion

The V700 is the first Samsung camera we've ever tested on dpreview, and to be honest we were fairly sceptical that a camera offering so much at a price well below similarly-specified cameras from the mainstream manufacturers could possibly deliver on its promise. So does it? In a word, partially. In many respects the V700 can hold its own when compared to significantly more expensive models such as the Canon S70 or Olympus C-7000Z. It has a very comprehensive set of photographic controls (which aren't hidden away in menus), a good lens producing superb resolution and a well-rounded feature set that combines user-friendly 'point and shoot' ease with proper enthusiast control. It also produces bright, sharp results that make very appealing prints, though purists will find that even after tweaking the various parameters the images are a little too 'over processed' (and a little noisy) for their liking.

All that said the only serious problem I have with the V700 is the ridiculous shutter lag (circa 0.3 seconds), which won't make a blind bit of difference when shooting scenery but precludes any kind of action photography (as does the rather uninspiring burst mode performance). Every other aspect of the camera's operation is actually fairly snappy, and it certainly doesn't feel 'slow' until you actually press the shutter.

At the end of the day this is a camera that can be picked up for just under $330 if you shop around, making it not only a good $100 less expensive than any other 7 megapixel camera offering this level of control, but also considerably less than most of its 'point and shoot' competitors such as the Canon SD500. And none of these cameras (save for the Sony P200) offers MPEG movies, none of those in a similar price bracket has any real photographic control, and few can capture as much detail. So if you're prepared to live with the higher than average noise, occasional exposure problem and shutter lag (the V700's real Achilles heel) you'll not find a better price/feature ratio anywhere. It was a difficult call deciding whether to give the V700 a Recommended or Above Average, and ultimately it just, just scraped a Recommended, simply because it offers the best option for anyone wanting this kind of specification on a tight budget. We await the next 'top of the range' Digimax with interest.

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