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Samsung WB600 review

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Samsung WB600
  • Samsung WB600
  • Samsung WB600
  • Samsung WB600
  • Samsung WB600
  • Samsung WB600
  • Samsung WB600
  • Samsung WB600
  • Samsung WB600
  • Samsung WB600
  • Samsung WB600
  • Samsung WB600
  • Samsung WB600
  • Samsung WB600
  • Samsung WB600
  • Samsung WB600
  • Samsung WB600
  • Samsung WB600
  • Samsung WB600
  • Samsung WB600
  • Samsung WB600
  • Samsung WB600
  • Samsung WB600
  • WB600 Point & Shoot Digital Camera - 12 Megapixel - 7.6 cm 3" Active Matrix TFT Colour LCD - Black (15x Optical Zoom - 5xMicrophone)

Summary

Our Score:

8

User Score:

Pros

  • Good quality 15x optical zoom
  • Great value for money
  • Manual exposure controls

Cons

  • Slightly thicker than some rivals
  • Images are noisy even at low ISO
  • Audio drops out in video

Key Features

  • 15x optical zoom
  • 24 - 360mm Lens
  • 3inch LCD screen
  • 12.2 Megapixel
  • 720p video recording
  • Manufacturer: Samsung
  • Review Price: £109.00

We've all wanted to get closer to our subjects than our compact camera's weedy 3x optical zoom would allow at one time or another, but we may have been put off an alternative with a broader focal range by the perceived bulk that came with it. In the past couple of years however, all that has changed.

Announced last year, Samsung's 12.2 effective megapixel WB600 charges into battle with Panasonic's TZ camera series, for one, by virtue of shoehorning a 15x optical zoom into its compact 30mm 'thick' chassis, an improvement on its predecessor the WB500's 10x. Like the competition it eschews mini DSLR/bridge camera styling by keeping the entirety of that long lens flush with the body when not in use, meaning it will still fit easily in an average pocket or handbag – the perfect travellers companion, it would seem.

The key here is not how big the zoom is but what you can do with it. The WB600's focal range is equivalent to 24-360mm in 35mm terms, suggesting it is as adept at wide angle landscape shots and group portraits as it is in capturing candid, up-close and personal portraiture, or shots of skittish wildlife that would be impossible with a more conventional 3x, 4x or 5x optical zoom. In this regard, it's an equal to the stylish Fujifim FinePix F300EXR, which also has a 12 megapixel resolution, but the Fuji has a thinner body at just 22.9mm in depth.

Currently in the Samsung's favour though is a very keen street price of just £120, a sizeable drop when compared to its manufacturer's original 2010 asking price of £250, making it a real bargain. Especially when you add in the 3-inch LCD - an increase in size from its forebear's 2.7-inches - 1280x720 pixels High Def video with dedicated backplate record button, and even less expectedly still, a smattering of manual controls. This includes newly-added aperture priority, shutter priority shooting modes, plus even a degree of control over manual focusing via a distance slider/toolbar, running from macro (as close as 3cm) to infinity. We also get a broader than average light sensitivity range starting out at ISO80 and extending up to ISO3200 at full resolution, plus the ability to individually adjust contrast, sharpness and saturation levels, if shooting in Program mode.

That said, in most other respects this is very much a snapshot camera that anyone will be able to pick up and start shooting with pretty much instantaneously, and we get both regular Auto mode and additional Smart Auto mode. The latter is the WB600's compares scenes and subjects with on-board parameters and selects the most appropriate camera settings for hopefully an optimum performance for the given scene. Working on this latest generation model for video as well as stills, this comes across as fairly reliable, making the WB600 an able point and shoot aid.

Available in black, brown or silvery grey, we had the latter in for testing, which looks a bit drab at first glance. Still, the build quality is solid, despite a plastic construction and easily belies its modest price. A curved edge to the left hand side of the faceplate provides something in the way of a handgrip, although there's no rubber padding this time as on the WB500. Three scored lines on the backplate provide a roughened surface for the thumb to steady itself on - but it's no substitute for a proper grip. Then again, you're almost certain to need two hands to shoot steadily with that vast zoom range, so it's not too much of a concern.

joose

February 1, 2011, 5:18 pm

Hi





Can you tell us if you will be altering the ISO tests in the future? I recommend a subject that has an area of fine detail as well as the smooth area so we can see the effect of increased ISO usage on both parts. How the camera applies its noise reduction on fine detail is of interest.





Also could you include a full frame of the last ISO shot so that we can see the effect of the ISO increase on the full image? Sometimes, noise can resemble film grain which is normally pleasing but you can't see at 100%.





Thanks

Epic

February 1, 2011, 5:34 pm

What's the flash / indoor performance like then? If low light performance is poor is the flash capable of doing anything to compensate?





This is something I miss in general in TR reviews of point and shoot cameras. There's a good chance a camera like this will be used indoors for family snaps and the like - how does it do at that?

Hans Gruber

February 1, 2011, 7:26 pm

Please can you retain a separate rating for image quality. Performance to me means general ease and responsiveness of use and may include such aspects as autofocus reliability, continuous shooting speed etc.





Image quality would cover ISO 'performance' and noise reduction (as indicated by Joose) as well as resolution/acutance, distortion, vignetting, chromatic aberration etc. I think it's a pretty important factor in determining whether a camera performs well or not to have its own separate score. A camera might be blazingly fast at taking poor quality pictures but what good would that be?

tean

February 2, 2011, 4:26 am

Hi,





For 100pd and produces such excellent images shown here I would wholeheartedly recommend this model without hesitation. BTW I bought one unit for my son, I like it very much obviously it has its deficiencies. Overall I would buy it again and fully recommend it to anyone as a travel camera or general purpose photography.





An excellent P&S camera at such a low price.

TheFlyingGerbil

February 2, 2011, 9:31 pm

As an owner of this camera I would like to point out to any potential buyers there is a menu option to keep the microphone on while zooming in video mode - it is the first setting I altered! Since TR saw this as one of the main negatives, hopefully this will help make up some people's minds. Obviously you can hear it zooming, but it's not that intrusive and certainly not as annoying as the sound cutting out.





Also a fairly minor point although one end of the charging cable is USB the end that plugs in to the camera is proprietary so if you are travelling you may be able to share the plug with your mobile phone/other gadgets but you will need to take the cable.





One more thing, if you look around the web you will see the GPS feature of the WB650 is idiosyncratic to say the least so unless you are desperate for the AMOLED screen you should save yourself the money and get this one.

JDunn

February 3, 2011, 2:44 pm

Forgot to mention the hideous chrome effect around the outside of the shell - it's like a 1950's car.

Ian Porter

February 4, 2011, 8:45 pm

I have to agree with Joose. Even at the lowest of ISO settings the toy cars look out of focus to me. Wouldn't a straight line pattern, something akin to the old BBC test card be better. Until the cars look in sharp focus I cannot judge ISO properly.

salamoon

February 14, 2011, 10:30 pm

to all potential buyers, having red a review a few months back I suggest to get wb600 over the wb650, if picture quality is the top priority for you over GPS/AMOLED screen...the simultaneous laboratory tests had shown slightly better picture quality of wb600, initially I didn't believe but after having a closer look to sample pictures taken in various shooting environments (the same objects) by both cameras I could see the difference clearly ...the crops out of wb600, when zoomed in, were less 'blurry' with a little bit lower amount of noise...overall slightly better looking...anyway whatever choice you'll make out of these 2 - wb600/wb650, hope serves well ... :-)

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