- Review Date: 04/12/2012
- Bottom line: It's not perfect, but the nicely priced compact Samsung WB150F camera packs a sharp 18x zoom lens and integrated Wi-Fi so you can email or upload your pics to Facebook easily.
- Pros: Built-in Wi-Fi. Sharp lens. 18x zoom. Compact design. Inexpensive.
- Cons: Slow performance. Noisy images at higher ISOs. Video capture is limited to 720p.
The Samsung WB150F ($229.99 list) packs a long 18x zoom lens into a compact body, but its sexiest feature is built-in support for Wi-Fi. Connect to a hotspot and you'll be able to upload photos directly to your Facebook account, email them to a friend, or view them on your TV. You can also download photos to your Android phone or iPhone, and even use the phone as a wireless viewfinder. The 14-megapixel camera suffers a bit from noise at higher ISO settings, and it isn't the fastest camera on the block in terms of start up speed. Despite its cool Wi-Fi capabilities and modest price, it doesn't manage to knock off our Editors' Choice superzoom, the Nikon Coolpix S9100 ($329.95, 4 stars).
Design and Features
When you consider its 18x (24-432mm) zoom lens, it's amazing just how small the WB150F is. It's only 2.4 by 4.2 by 0.9 inches (HWD) in size, which is a bit slimmer than the 2.4-by-4.2-by-1.3-inch Canon PowerShot SX260 HS ($349.99, 4 stars). You can shoot in Auto, but there are enough physical controls to keep you happy if you'd like more control over the camera. These include buttons for the Self Timer, Macro mode, and Flash control. Pressing the Menu button brings up an overlay display from which you can adjust Exposure Compensation, White Balance, ISO, and other frequently changed camera settings. To control more esoteric camera settings, turn the top Mode dial to the Gear icon, which brings up the camera's full Menu.
The Wi-Fi menu is also accessed via the Mode dial. The camera can connect to any network—if you have a security key set you'll have to enter it, but the camera remembers the password. The WB150F gives you an experience similar to a smartphone, albeit sans touch screen, as each option is represented by a colorful icon. Social Sharing lets you post photos and videos directly to Facebook, Picasa, YouTube, and Photo Bucket, and there's also an Email option if you'd like to send a picture to a specific person. You can also push photos to the SkyDrive service, a Windows PC, or a Samsung TV.
The final two Wi-Fi functions require an iPhone or Android phone to use. MobileLink works with a free app, available in the Apple App Store and Android Market, to wirelessly transmit your photos from the camera to your phone—which can come in handy when you don't have Wi-Fi access and would like to share a photo via your phone's data plan. The Remote Viewfinder app, also free for iOS and Android, lets you use your phone to control the camera. You can zoom the lens in and out, turn the flash on or off, and trip the shutter, but more advanced functions aren't supported. The live view feed is choppy, which limits the situations in which this feature can be used. When set in either of these modes the camera itself becomes a Wi-Fi hotspot, so you'll need to set your phone to connect to it in order to get them to work. The operating range is rather limited—I was only able to get about 30 feet away from the camera before communication was lost.
The camera's rear LCD is 3 inches in size and is packed with 460k dots, a bright and sharp combination. It isn't the best in its class—that honor goes to the Nikon S9100—but it is in line with most other superzoom cameras, including the Fujifilm Finepix F600EXR ($349.95, 3 stars).
Performance and Conclusions
One area in which the WB150F lags a bit behind the competition is speed. The camera requires 3.8 seconds to start and take a shot, makes you wait 1.5 seconds between photos, and manages a 0.4 second shutter lag. Another 18x Samsung camera, the WB750 ($279.99, 3.5 stars), does better here—it starts and shoots in 1.9 seconds, has a short 0.2 second shutter lag, and can grab an eight shot burst of photos with only 0.1 second between each shot.
The camera does much better in terms of sharpness, which I used Imatest to measure. Its lens managed to record 1,880 lines per picture height when shooting our test chart, which exceeds the 1,800 lines required for a sharp photo. There are cameras with slightly sharper lenses, like the Canon PowerShot SX260 HS—it managed 1,939 lines—but the WB150F is no slouch in this department.
Where the camera does lag behind the curve is in terms of image noise. It was only able to keep it below 1.5 percent through ISO 200, which is rather disappointing. At ISO 400 the camera produces photos with 1.9 percent noise, but without too much loss of detail. Images are a little cleaner at ISO 800, but at that point detail is sapped by over-aggressive noise reduction, which gives photos an unnaturally shiny, waxy feel. We've tested cameras that have been better with noise—the Canon PowerShot Elph 510 HS ($349.99, 3.5 stars) was good through ISO 400, and our Editors' Choice Nikon Coolpix S9100 keeps photos clean all the way up through ISO 3200. We've also seen some that have been worse—the ultra-compact Canon PowerShot Elph 520 HS ($299.99, 2.5 stars) matched the WB150F with clean images through ISO 200, but those shot at ISO 400 with that camera really suffered due to in-camera noise reduction.
The 720p30 video captured by the camera looks pretty good, although it isn't full 1080p quality. It's recorded in MP4 format, and the camera can zoom in and out and refocus when recording. What's better, the lens is quiet enough that doing so doesn't overwhelm the soundtrack. There's no HDMI output on the WB150F, so if you don't have a Samsung TV with Wi-Fi, you'll have to figure out another way to watch your movies on a big screen. Photos are saved to SD, SDHC, and SDXC memory cards. There's a standard micro USB port on the camera—there's no battery charger included, though. Instead, you plug the camera directly into the wall via a USB-to-AC adapter in order to charge it.
If you're interested in instantly sharing your photos online—but are unhappy with the capabilities of your cell phone's camera—the WB150F is worth serious consideration, especially given its $230 price point. Even though it isn't the best in low light, the compact shooter packs a long, sharp zoom lens. If Wi-Fi isn't a must-have feature, other cameras deliver more versatile performance. At $350, the Canon PowerShot SX260 HS is over $100 more expensive, but packs a longer 20x lens and built-in GPS. Enthusiasts may want to seek out a camera like the Fujifilm Finepix F600EXR, which also retails for $350, but can be found for less online and supports Raw image capture. Our current Editors' Choice compact superzoom, the Nikon S9100, is an older camera and may be hard to locate at retail, but some Nikon dealers have refurbished versions for under $200.
This review is in partnership with Ziff Davis Media.