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Samsung WB550 - Samsung WB550

By Cliff Smith



  • Recommended by TR
Samsung WB550


Our Score:


Strangely, considering that the two cameras are largely identical, the WB550 has slightly better overall performance than the WB500. The WB550 starts up in a little under two seconds, shuts down again in just under three seconds. It doesn't have a power-saving mode, it just switches itself off after a couple of minutes. In single-shot mode it has a shot-to-shot time of approximately 2.2 seconds, while in continuous shooting mode it can manage a consistent 1.3 seconds per shot in standard mode, or a slightly less consistent 1.5fps in the continuous high-speed mode. Annoyingly the screen remains blank when shooting in continuous mode, but at least there is an audible shutter sound so you know when the shots are taken.

The autofocus system is the same as the WB500. It is excellent, focusing quickly and accurately in almost all lighting conditions, and is particularly good in low light. The only time I found any problems was in close-up focusing close to the macro limit, but than most cameras have this problem. It usually got it right on the second try.

The WB550 has an image stabilisation system, but its exact nature is something of a puzzle. I was under the impression that it used optical image stabilisation, but Samsung's website says "...integrating the best sensor shift mechanisms of Optical Image Stabilisation..." which is of course self-contradictory. Most of the site seems to be translated from its native Korean, and as many confusing but hilarious passages in Samsung's corporate press releases attest, accurate translation into English is not one of the company's strong points. However the IS system works, it is very effective, enabling sharp hand-held shots at around 1/15th of a second even at maximum zoom.

I was quite impressed with the WB500's overall image quality, so I had high hopes for the WB550. I was not disappointed; the camera reliably produces excellent image in most lighting conditions, but there are a couple of caveats. The lens is very good, with excellent centre-area sharpness and minimal distortion at either extreme of the zoom range, but it does exhibit some chromatic aberration toward the corners of the frame.

Image noise is also quite well handled, and the camera produces good images up to 400 ISO, but there is some colour noise visible in long-exposure (over 0.5 sec) shots even at the lowest ISO setting. Image compression is also a bit more drastic than it needs to be, producing some nasty artefacts.

Although exposure metering is accurate, dynamic range is extremely limited, with even moderate shadows producing dark areas of featureless black on the final image. It does have Auto Contrast Balance, but unlike the same system on the WB500 this really only helps with highlights. It's not a crushing problem, and is common to most 12MP compacts.


The Samsung WB550 is an excellent all-rounder, and the ideal camera for holidays. Build quality, design and handling are all up to a very high standard, performance is equal to anything else on the market, and the results are very good, although it does run into problems with dynamic range and long-exposure noise. Comparing the price to its main rivals, the WB550 is a real bargain.


November 24, 2009, 10:41 am

How stiff is the mode selector switch? The loose one on my TZ6 is doing my head in, it is pretty much guaranteed to have moved to the wrong setting no matter what you have done with it.

Also, what is the battery life like?


November 24, 2009, 2:50 pm

Which would you choose Cliff and why?

Samsung WB550 or Panasonic TZ7? (£220 vs £230). The choice gets harder!

Cliff Smith

November 24, 2009, 3:19 pm

The mode dial is nice and clunky, and partly recessed, very unlikely to get jogged by accident. The battery is the same 3.7v 1050mAh Li-ion as the WB500. I'm not sure of the exact duration, but it's showing 2/3rds charge after a week's use and about 150 shots.


November 24, 2009, 3:22 pm

It is a shame that going from 10MP on the WB500 to 12MP on this one is considered to be a superior specification. So many pixels on such a tiny sensors mean that all you are likely to get for the extra money is (even) less dynamic range, poorer noise control and bigger files that are slower to do everything with. Picture quality certainly won't be any better.

Tony 3

November 24, 2009, 6:11 pm

Great review Cliff, but does the extra pixels and the better screen warrant the extra £50 or so over the WB500?


November 24, 2009, 8:37 pm

Thanks for the review Cliff. One question, how would you compare the video performance of this camera to the Panasonic TZ7? Does the 50/60p frame rate of the Panasonic (albeit achieved through frame doubling) make much difference?


December 7, 2009, 12:07 am

@TR Which out of these two performs better via HD movie Samsung WB550 or Fujifilm S2000HD ???


May 17, 2010, 2:42 pm

Just to point out that amazon.co.uk is flogging this camera as part of this week's 'Deals of the Week' for 139 quid, which should bump up the value for money a notch or two...

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