Pretty? Yes. Well-built? Yes. Image quality? Ehhh...

In 2007, I was chiefly concerned with three things: fixing whatever had recently broken on my 1980 Datsun 210, scouring the electronics section of the local Goodwill in an endless quest for a louder stereo, and finding older computer games that my home-built PC would play acceptably well. Despite where I've ended up, it turns out that photography wasn't really near the top of my priorities list.

Regardless, I was dead-set on spending every penny of savings from my job at Dairy Queen to take a trip to Europe with three friends after our high school graduation, and my grandmother had offered to help me buy a new camera for the trip. That's where this Samsung NV10 comes in.

It may look a little odd today, but Samsung's 'Smart Touch' technology actually made for a responsive and engaging way to manipulate the camera's controls and settings before the advent of affordable touch screens.

The Samsung NV10, which we reviewed back in 2006, is a compact camera with a 35-105mm equiv. F2.8-5.1 zoom lens, a 10.3MP 1/1.8" CCD sensor, and Samsung's 'Smart Touch' user interface. Most importantly to the mini-me at Omega Photo in Bellevue, WA, it was small - it could just about fit in a jeans pocket. It was smaller than the hand-me-down Canon PowerShot A70 I had used during high school when my Samsung VGA flip-phone wouldn't cut it. I liked the NV10's all-metal, all-black design, and though I really had no idea why I needed the option, it offered at least some control over exposure parameters.

So despite the best efforts of my dad, who wanted me to get that absolute behemoth that was the Canon PowerShot S3 IS for a similar price (my 18-year-old self couldn't fathom why anyone would want to carry a camera around his or her neck), I opted for the svelte little Samsung. After some time with the NV10, I decided - in typical American teenage fashion - to ignore nagging suspicions that my dad had been right all along.

The NV10 produced fairly clean, punchy files so long as there was enough light. I don't know why I was making that face, nor why I felt I needed to stage a photograph of my car on this lawn. Samsung NV10 @ 35mm equiv. ISO 100, 1/250 sec, F2.8.

Photo by Erin Bynum

So, what did I find to be positive about the NV10 besides its design, pocketability and control scheme? Unfortunately, not much.

As Simon stated in our full review, the NV10 produced files that were excessively saturated and overly contrasty. This often led to clipped shadows and highlights, and though you wouldn't have expected a Raw option on this camera, there were no options to adjust the JPEG output at all. The battery life was rated at an unimpressive 180 shots and the lens' wide-angle equivalent left me wanting something a bit wider at the time (today, I find that 35mm equivalent is wide enough). One interesting tid-bit? It did at least support USB charging.

You want punchy colors? You got 'em. Samsung NV10 @ 35mm equiv. ISO 100, 1/200 sec, F7.1.

Photo by Carey Rose

Of course, this is a point-and-shoot compact camera from 2006, and as such, has a very limited ISO range. You could push it up to ISO 1000, but things really started to fall apart around ISO 400. The problem there was that in anything but reasonably bright light, the camera would drag the shutter, likely resulting in a photo that was blurred and noisy, and the slow aperture at the telephoto end of the zoom range meant you were sticking to the wide end if you wanted to avoid using the flash.

Can't skip the cat photo. Check out that noise at ISO 400, and the handheld blur from an over-caffeinated teenager. I'm probably hitting the minimum focus distance without macro mode as well. Samsung NV10 @ 35mm equiv. ISO 400, 1/20 sec, F2.8.

Photo by Carey Rose

Despite all of this, I managed to convince myself that the Samsung NV10 was fine at the time. In hindsight, I was wrong. Full disclosure, though: my limited knowledge of photographic basics hurt my experience with the camera at least as much as the camera's limited capabilities. Someone doing a "Pro Tog, Cheap Camera" challenge with the NV10 would likely turn out some good results, but they'd better keep an eye on the ISO value.

To round things up, then, this was a camera for my graduation trip to Europe, and therefore you may be wondering where all those European photos might be. Well, I ended up losing the camera on a train in Germany, and therefore losing around 600 thoroughly mediocre photos. Turns out, my dad was right - I needed a camera that would stay comfortably slung around my neck.

I got back home from my trip, saved up some money and bought that PowerShot S3 IS, and never looked back.

Naches, WA. Samsung NV10 @ 93mm equiv. ISO 200, 1/200 sec, F12.3.

Everyone makes mistakes. Do you have a camera that you realized you bought too hastily, or have even regretted purchasing? Did you keep it, or trade it out for something else? Let us know in the comments!

Samsung NV10 real-world sample gallery