The Samsung WB650 has a full specification which makes it one of the more impressive travel compacts on paper. However, how does it fare when put though the WDC test?
Samsung WB650 review
When you’re heading on holiday, there is often conflict as to what camera gear you should take. While the obvious that you want to take the best photos you can, the thought of having the spend two weeks lugging around a DSLR and range of lenses can be off-putting. Not only that, but that amount of gear can be very expensive, and the thought of losing, damaging or having it stolen can be a very real prospect. It’s for this reason that more and more photographers are turning to advanced compact cameras for a lightweight solution. The ‘travel compact’ section of the market has seen more and more new additions recently, and although it’s a relatively new area, it still has a number of models vying for superiority.
Samsung’s new WB650 ticks all of the right boxes when it comes to a travel compact. It offers a large focal range, full manual control, generous screen and even GPS photo tagging functionality. So, the specification fits the bill, but does the camera deliver?
Samsung WB650 review – Features
The Samsung WB650 features a generous 1/2.3in CCD sensor with a 14.2MP resolution, outputting at 12MP effective. Paired with the sensor to provide optics is a varioplan Schneider-Kreuznach lens with a 15x optical zoom. The zoom covers a focal range of 24-360mm in 35mm equivalent terms, meaning that the wide end offers a good wide-angle for interiors or landscapes. Furthermore, the lens is supported by dual image stabilisation The rear of the camera houses an impressive screen. While it may only be 3in in resolution, which is by no means the largest on the market, it is of the new AMOLED variety. Samsungs claims that AMOLED screens provide darker blacks and True Colour brightness thanks to an improved contrast ratio, whilst also consuming less power as the lack LCD backlighting.
If you the type of photographer described in the introduction, then you’ll be please to know that full manual shooting controls feature, though auto shooting is also offered for those looking for point and shoot simplicity. The WB650 also benefits from HD video capture, offering a 720p resolution at 30 frame per second, and recording in the H.264 format.
In what seems a growing trend, Samsung has implemented a range of smart filters which offers quick post-production editing of your images in just a few button pushes, including a tilt-shift ‘miniaturised’ effect and a fish-eye distortion. There are also a range of colour palettes that can give your images a range of looks, such as vivid, sepia and vintage.
One final feature that puts a new spin on the idea of a travel compact is the in-built GPS and geo-tagging capabilities. With it switched on, your photos are tagged with geographical data, and images are then placed on to a map so that you won’t forget when and where they were taken.
Samsung WB650 review – Design
Unsurprisingly, given the size of the focal range the W650 boasts, the body isn’t particularly thin. In fact, at its thickest point it’s some 28mm thick, while the amount of glass encased in the body also means that it’s quite a heavy compact, weighing in at 214g. Despite its slight over-sizing and the extra weight, the WB650 neither looks nor feels unwieldy. In keeping with its advanced credentials, the camera also features a dedicated mode dial on the top, offering access to shooting modes within a simple turn of a dial.
The rear of the camera is dominated by the impressive AMOLED screen, though the presence of the mode dial on the top of the camera means that it’s light on buttons. The lack of buttons isn’t that much of an issue though, as it helps the overall aesthetic of the camera. The WB650 also features a dedicated record button for quick access to the HD video mode. Furthermore, the compact is also available in a choice of either black or grey.
Samsung WB650 review – Performance, Value and Verdict
Samsung WB650 review – Performance
In use, the WB650 impresses. The focusing system is generally fast and accurate, which will no doubt be important for a general travel camera. The start-up time is almost instant as well, though the camera does take a reasonable amount of time to power down. It’s also worth noting that the camera’s menu system is slightly different to those on most cameras, though this isn’t to the camera’s detriment as it’s well designed.
Samsung WB650 review – Value
Considering the full specification, the price tag of the WB650 is pleasingly low. This is in no doubt partly due to the fact that there is such competition in this area for custom, and as such the prices have to be low. Though having said that, you really are getting a lot of camera for your money with the WB650 – the 3in AMOLED screen really is class-leading, while the on-board GPS functionality is no doubt a sign of the future in the travel compact category.
Samsung WB650 review – Verdict
There’s no denying that the Samsung WB650 is a really good compact camera. The host of technologies on offer is impressive, with the 3in AMOLED screen being class leading, and the addition of on-board GPS placing it amongst a select group of compact cameras to feature the technology. So, what is there not to like? Well, the performance is hardly as class leading as its specification – the zoom and focus system can, at times, be sluggish, while exposure and white balance has are at inconsistant. However, the camera is definitely on the affordable side of the scale, and as such it’s one of the leading lights in the travel compact camera category.