Samsung WB350F is a compact camera with Wi-Fi and a 21x zoom lens. However, image noise can be a problem.
- Sharp, 21x zoom lens.
- View from a wide angle.
- Focus with snappy.
- Touch-screen display.
- Excellent Wi-Fi implementation.
- Design chic.
- Images that are too noisy
- It takes a while to get up and running.
- Only limited burst shooting.
- External battery charger not included.
Samsung WB350F ($259.99 on Amazon). This compact camera has a 21x zoom lens, and the most comprehensive Wi-Fi feature set. The camera is wrapped in chic leatherette, which you can choose from white, brown, blue, red or brown. It also has a touch-screen LCD rear LCD. The 16-megapixel image quality is not as good as it looks, even though the exterior design is impressive.
Although we were pleased with the 23mm-wide angle field of view (which captures more than other models), it is not recommended over the Editors Choice compact superzoom Canon PowerShot SX280HS ($299.69 Amazon). This camera also features Wi-Fi, and can take better photos in low light.
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The WB350F's slim size (2.6 x 4.5 x 1 inch) is surprising considering its zoom range. It weighs 7.6 ounces. The exterior is wrapped in leatherette and has plastic bottom plates and top in faux chrome. You can flip the pop-up flash backwards before you take a photo to provide indirect lighting. The size of the Panasonic Lumix DMCZS30 (at Amazon) is 2.3x4.3x1.1inches, 6.1ozs), another compact shooter that boasts a 30x zoom.
It has a 21x zoom packed in the WB350F, which is a great deal for its range. The WB350F's 23-483mm F/2.8-5.9 (35mm equivalent), zoom is wider than most cameras of its class but not as wide as the Canon PowerShot SX700HS's 25-750mm lens. The standard zoom rocker is located on top, as well as the mode dial and power buttons. An angled bezel houses the Wi-Fi and flash releases.
The rear controls also include an Fn button to record movies and a 4-way controller which adjusts information on the rear display. This includes the flash output, macro focus mode and drive mode. Fn is another button that brings up the rear menu. This menu can be adjusted using the touch screen display and also the playback and standard buttons.
You can use the Fn overlay to adjust shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation. These can be changed via touch or the zoom rocker can be used for fast adjustments. It's also the easiest way to access exposure compensation when shooting in program mode. This is highlighted by the Fn screen. Shutter priority or manual mode will default to the shutter speed menu. The same applies for aperture when you shoot in aperture priority.
It measures 3 inches and has a resolution of 460k dots. Although it's smaller than the 614kot OLED display Nikon included on its Coolpix S9500, it still supports touch input. Samsung is very familiar with touch panels and Android phones like the Galaxy Camera ($399.95 Amazon). When adjusting settings or navigating through the menus and scrolling through photos, the WB350F's touchscreen is very responsive.
Wi-Fi is another strength of Samsung. Although the WB350F does not have an Android operating system and always-on 4G connectivity like the Galaxy Camera, it has a complete set of WiFi functions. The WB350F can send images to Android or iOS devices via an app.
You can also control the camera remotely using the same app. Or, stream live feeds to your tablet or phone to make the WB350F a baby monitor. You can transfer movies and photos directly to Evernote or Facebook. There's also an Auto Backup mode that copies your data to your computer, as well as Samsung Link, which allows you to connect to Samsung's cloud storage or beam images to other devices via DLNA.
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The WB350F takes what seems like an eternity to start and grab a shot—a full 3.4 seconds. It becomes much faster once it is powered up. It takes 0.1 seconds to fire and focus, while it can shoot 6 images in a short time at 7.1 frames per sec. It takes longer to start the app, launch it and shoot a photo using the Android-powered Galaxy Camera. This task can be completed in just 2.9 seconds. While the Galaxy Camera can shoot at 3.8 frames per seconds for 20 shots and has a shutter delay of 0.4 seconds, it is capable of shooting at a slow shutter speed.
Imatest was used to test the WB350F's image quality. The lens of the WB350F is sharp. It scored 1,931 lines per image height in our standard sharpness testing, which was better than our 1,800-line cutoff. Although there is some blurring around the corners and edges, this is normal for compact cameras. Nikon Coolpix S9500 has a sharper image. It records 2,823 lines in the same test, and it offers more resolution due to its 18-megapixel sensor.
Imatest can also check images for noise. Noise can reduce detail and render images appear grainy. Higher ISO values, which are numerically measured as light sensitivities, can cause noise to become a problem. The WB350F does a rather poor job here; it only keeps noise under 1.5 percent through ISO 200—a setting that's good for use outdoors, but not quite up to the task of indoor shooting.
A close examination of the images taken on the calibrated NEC MultiSyncPA271W ($999.00 Amazon) shows that the quality begins to decline at ISO 400. By the time the WB350F reaches ISO 3200, the photos look grainy and mushy. Canon SX280 HS is better at noise control. It produces sharp images through ISO 1600 with very little noise and good detail.
The video is saved in MP4 at 1080p30 and 720p30 resolutions. It's sharp and colorful, and the camera does a good job adjusting focus as the scene changes—transitions are smooth, albeit a little bit on the slow side. For a small camera, the audio quality is excellent. Voices are clearly heard on the soundtrack. The lens zooming sound is also not audible.
The included AC adapter includes a micro USB connector that can be used to plug into the wall socket to charge your battery or connect it to a computer. There is no external charger. Micro HDMI ports are not available, as is quite common for compact cameras. Videos and photos are stored on microSD/SDHC/SDXC card.
There are many strengths to the Samsung WB350F: excellent Wi Fi, responsive touch screens, sharp lenses, and great Wi-Fi. It is hampered by slow startup, poor low-light image quality and a slow start. Other cameras in this class deliver uneven performance—the Panasonic ZS30 does better in dim light, but its lens isn't that sharp. Although the Nikon S9500 may be more expensive and lacks nearly as many WiFi options, its sharp lens and ability to perform well in low lighting make it a worthy choice.
Our Editors Choice Canon SX280HS was not the most excellent camera in this class. It had an incorrect battery gauge that made it difficult to record video. Canon fixed this issue with a firmware upgrade. The SX280 is the most affordable camera in its class and offers excellent image quality and performance. If you've got some more money to spend, and value connectivity at all, the Samsung Galaxy Camera is also worth a look—it runs Android and has a 3G modem for always-on cellular connectivity.
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