Samsung WB350F review
Sensor resolution: 16 megapixels, Sensor size: 1/2.3in, Viewfinder: No, LCD screen: 3in (460,000 dots), Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths): 21x (23-483mm), 35mm-equivalent aperture: f/16-33, Weight: 240g, Size (HxWxD): 67x114x36mm
Shop around and you can pick up the Samsung WB350F for much less than its £249 launch price. It looks promising considering its 21x zoom, Wi-Fi and touchscreen. Its appearance is more in line with its low price, though. It's fairly bulky and the metal-effect top plate and leather-effect front are actually made of plastic. Despite its bulk, this camera has a microSDXC slot, which could be annoying if you own lots of SD cards. There's no orientation sensor, so portrait-shaped photos must be rotated manually.
A dedicated mode dial is always welcome, but this one is perched on the corner of the camera and often got jogged by accident. The dial is home to some unusual options, including a Best Face mode that takes five photos and lets you choose which version to use for each detected face, blending the final image together. It sometimes struggled to detect any faces, but when it worked, it worked superbly.
There aren't a huge number of buttons, but a Fn button reveals various on-screen controls, and the touchscreen makes them quick to navigate. There's no wheel for adjusting settings but the zoom lever can be used to cycle through the available options. Overall, it's a decent system for those who like to play around with settings.
This isn't a great camera for quick impromptu snaps, though. It took 4.3s to switch on and capture a photo in Auto mode. Program mode was quicker at 2.8s but that's still relatively slow. The time between shots varied from one to two seconds, with an average of 1.4s. That's a little slower than most compact cameras, but it'll do. Continuous mode managed a respectable six frames in a second, and took eight seconds to save them.
The Wi-Fi features include a remote viewfinder mode for smartphone and tablet apps, with control over the shutter release, zoom, flash, self-timer and resolution. There are lots of options for transferring photos: automatically in remote viewfinder mode, automatically when composing shots on the camera, or by browsing the camera's contents on either device. We particularly like the option to transfer photos during normal shooting, as it provides an immediate backup and makes all photos ready to share online. It's just a shame that the camera's controls are locked for nine seconds while transfers take place.
There's also a Baby Monitor mode, where a smartphone or tablet can show a video feed and send an alert when the camera detects noises above a specified threshold. The vibration-only alert is a bit too subtle for our liking, but while it's unlikely to replace a dedicated baby monitor, it could be useful as a backup when visiting friends.
Video quality was excellent, with rich colours, crisp details and reliable stabilisation for handheld telephoto clips. Autofocus was a bit flaky while zooming but otherwise performed well. Low-light clips exhibited a light fizz in shadows but were well above average quality.
^ Image quality isn't the best, but with a 20x time zoom, this £124 camera can take photos your smartphone can only dream of
Photo quality wasn't quite as impressive, as the 16-megapixel resolution puts higher demands on the lens and sensor. Dense textures such as grass and foliage lacked detail, and focus deteriorated at the long end of the zoom. Skin tones were a little grainy in bright conditions and inevitably worse in low light. However, none of these issues is likely to be a problem if you only ever view photos on a screen.
Ultimately, the WB350F's photos pass our threshold of being good enough for casual snaps. With a generous 20x zoom, plenty of useful features and an aggressively low price, it's a solid choice for people on a tight budget.
|Sensor resolution||16 megapixels|
|Focal length multiplier||5.61x|
|Viewfinder magnification (35mm-equivalent), coverage||N/A|
|LCD screen||3in (460,000 dots)|
|Photo file formats||JPEG|
|Maximum photo resolution||4,608x3,456|
|Photo aspect ratios||4:3|
|Video compression format||MP4 (AVC) at up to 14Mbit/s|
|Video resolutions||1080p at 30fps, 720p at 30fps, VGA at 30fps, QVGA at 30fps|
|Slow motion video modes||N/A|
|Maximum video clip length (at highest quality)||20m 0s|
|Exposure modes||Program, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual|
|Shutter speed range||16 to 1/2,000 seconds|
|ISO speed range||80 to 3200|
|Exposure compensation||EV +/-2|
|White balance||Auto, 5 presets with fine tuning, manual, Kelvin|
|Auto-focus modes||Multi, centre, face detect, tracking|
|Metering modes||Multi, centre-weighted, centre, face detect, tracking|
|Flash modes||Auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, rear curtain, red-eye reduction|
|Drive modes||Single, continuous, self-timer, AE bracket, panorama|
|Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths)||21x (23-483mm)|
|Maximum aperture (wide-tele)||f/2.8-5.9|
|Closest macro focus (wide)||10cm|
|Closest macro focus (tele)||150cm|
|Warranty||One year RTB|
|Price including VAT||£124|