Operation and controls

The V700's designers weren't shy of including every possible feature and control they could think of (it's worth remembering that - despite being well under $400, this is the top of Samsung's range). And it's a credit to them that they did so in such a way that - once you've found your way around the myriad menus and options - actually scores fairly well on the usability scale. The extensive external controls mean menus are only really used in very unusual situations or when making changes to basic settings. And even then, you can save your settings in one of the three special 'MySet' memories.

Rear of camera

The V700's 2.0-inch screen and extensive external controls cover a large proportion of the rear of the camera. A small thumb 'grip' helps keep the camera secure in your hand (though as mentioned earlier, it feels a lot safer if you use both hands).

Top of camera

The top of the V700 is home to the power (on/off) button, shutter release, jog switch and main mode dial. On the far left is a mini speaker.

Display and menus

As is to be expected from a camera this packed with features and controls, the V700 has an extensive menu system - this despite the fact that virtually all the major photographic controls get their own external controls. That said, it's a fairly well-designed (if slightly garish) interface, and to be honest you're unlikely to be using the main menu system that often. If there is one complaint it's that the menus are a little spread out - the 10 pages of options in record mode could easily have been condensed into three or four at the most.

Pressing the display button cycles through three display modes; basic (showing only the number of remaining frames), advanced and advanced with histogram (as shown here). You can also turn off the LCD entirely and use the optical viewfinder. Half-press the shutter and the display changes to indicate the focus area(s) selected, and the exposure (aperture and shutter speed) chosen.
In manual mode you get eight apertures to choose from (F2.8 to F6.4) at the wide end, and four (F5.1 to F7.4) at the tele end), and shutter speeds from 15 secs to 1/2000. Rather annoyingly you have to half-press the shutter release to see how under or over exposed the setting chosen is. Much more user-friendly are the Aperture and Shutter Priority modes. There is also a manual focus option. Pressing the '+/-' button brings up a quick menu of common photographic settings (normally shown as an overlay on the preview image, we're using a black background for clarity). Here you get options for AE-compensation, white balance, ISO and individual red, green and blue sliders for fine-tuning color balance.
Pressing the MENU button brings up the main menus (again, overlaid on the preview image). There are - count em - 10 pages of menus covering: Size, Quality, Metering, Shooting (single, continuous, bracketing), Sharpness, Effect, Special Effect, Save MySet, Setup, MyCam (sounds). Although that's a lot of menus to work through, the V700 does remember which one you last used next time you return. The setup menu offers the usual basic camera settings, including file numbering, language, audio volume, card formatting and so on.
With the mode dial set to the SCENE position you get an extra menu offering eleven subject modes. Standard playback mode shows each image full screen with little more than the frame number and battery status displayed (you can also view images without any on-screen information at all).
Pressing the display button brings up this rather basic information display, showing image size, exposure details and date. You can't view a histogram on recorded images. The playback menu consists of another eight pages of options covering slideshows, file protection and deletion, image resizing and rotating, DPOF printing and the same setup menus found in record mode.
Pressing the left (W) zoom button allows you to browse saved images as pages of thumbnails (3x3). The right (T) zoom button magnifies images up to 12x in 22 steps.
When you've magnified an image you can 'trim' (crop), with the result saved as a new file. The V700 has eight 'albums' for organizing your saved images. As well as using albums to organize your photos you can produce slideshows of individual albums using one of four transition effects.
The movie mode menu offers options for size (up to 640x480), frame rate (15/30 fps), metering, effects and an electronic stabilizer. The stabilizer sort of works (it does produce a slightly jerky result), but using it reduces the field of view (it uses some digital zoom). You cannot zoom during movie recording.