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Samsung WB650 - Performance, Results and Verdict

By Cliff Smith



  • Recommended by TR
Samsung WB650 front angle


Our Score:


Like most recent Samsung compacts the WB650's overall performance is very good. It starts up and is able to take a picture in less than three seconds, which is a creditable performance. In single-shot mode its shot-to-shot time is approximately 2.1 seconds, which is also quicker than average, especially for a big high-tech camera. In continuous shooting mode it can shoot at a consistent one frame per second apparently until the memory card is full. There is an audio cue to let you know when a picture is taken, but the monitor screen remains blank after the first shot, so tracking moving subjects is a bit of a guessing game.

Samsung WB650 top

The autofocus system is also very good, focusing quickly and accurately in all lighting conditions. Its low light performance is much better than some previous Samsung models, and will focus reliably in dim twilight. For lower light conditions the WB650 has an AF assist lamp with a range of about three metres.

One of the few problems with the otherwise excellent Panasonic TZ10 was its very poor battery life, especially when using the GPS system. Samsung must have noted this with some satisfaction, because the WB650 has no such drawback. It is powered by a chunky 1130mAh Lithium Ion battery with excellent duration, no doubt thanks in part to the lower power consumption of the AMOLED screen. I took the WB650 on holiday with me two weeks ago, charging it up before I left. I used the GPS function extensively and took around 200 shots, and even now the battery indicator is still showing two out of three bars. Samsung makes no specific claim for the number of shots on a single charge, but suffice it to say it's enough.

One problem area for Samsung in the past has been image quality, and sadly the WB650 also has some issues in this area. The problem is the massively heavy-handed image processing, which leaves images looking as though they have been blurred and then over-sharpened. Whether this is part of the noise reduction system or just general sharpening I'm not sure, but it does rob images of a lot of potential quality. It's pity, because the lens is very good, with very little optical distortion or chromatic aberration at any focal length, and the overall level of recorded detail is excellent. Colour reproduction is very good, and even dynamic range is better than average. Noise control is, to be fair, about average for the class. At lower ISO settings it's certainly not a patch on the superb low-ISO results of the TZ10, but at 400 ISO and higher there's really not much in it. If only Samsung could sort out its image processing, Panasonic and the other manufacturers would be in real trouble.

Samsung WB650 battery


In many ways the Samsung WB650 is a better camera than the Panasonic TZ10. It has a better zoom range, a more accurate GPS system, a sharper monitor and crucially longer battery life. Build quality, design and handling are all excellent, but it can't quite match its rival on low ISO image quality.


June 3, 2010, 6:28 pm

This is a camera, right?

How can it be given an overall score of 9 when its score for image quality is 7? Does that mean the other issues over and above it primary purpose makes it somewhat better.

I don't see how a camera with 7 for image quality is better than another with suitable but less features should get a higher rating than another camera with 9 for image quality but less features.

Features are a factor but they are not what I would buy a camera for.


June 4, 2010, 3:53 am

Darn! Why can't compact superzooms like this one sport a peep-through viewfinder? Even given the shortcomings noted in this review, I would have bought this camera if it had a viewfinder.

Martin Daler

June 4, 2010, 4:49 am

a medium format camera will doubtless have better image quality, if it gets the shot. Sometimes getting the shot is a function of the camera features, like zoom range, or pocketability. Getting the shot is the ultimate arbiter of image quality - no shot = zero quality. I'd give a camera extra points for features which translate into getting the shot.


June 4, 2010, 1:14 pm

I like the "GPS - For Digital Nomad" - highly amusing!

I'd consider buying this when the price drops. Although the images look a bit like an oil painted up close, thanks to the processing, I think the overall lens quality, colour reproduction and DR outweigh this. I tend to keep most of my point & shoot photos 'as shot' anyway, so this wouldn't be an issue for me. Maybe they'll release a firmware update to improve this, but its Samsung, so I wouldn't hold my breath!

Ian Porter

June 4, 2010, 11:27 pm

@ Fiqqer, Martin & Chris... I'm looking for a high quality point & shoot/travel camera in the £200 arena. As soon as I saw the 7/10 for image quality I immediately dismissed this camera, it could be voice controlled, have artificial intelligence, run battery free and double up as an emergency phone.. I still wouldn't buy it. Sorry Cliff.


June 5, 2010, 3:15 am

Totally agree with Fiqquer...how on earth can a camera that has 7/10 for image quality get a 9/10 score? If the images are no good then neither is the camera.


June 5, 2010, 5:04 am

really depend. my family hardly print any photo. and if we do, most are just 5*7. for this size, really does not matter. and we most only view photo and share with people on computer. we hardly post photo online using any size bigger than 2 or 3mp.

so that is the point. now we are judge it by its full size. but we should always ask ourself that in pratical do we need full size photo?

at least for many people they do not need at all.

Woking Wounded

June 5, 2010, 2:53 pm

When are manufacturers going to give us the option in pocket cameras of taking photos in RAW? Then we won't be dependent on their clunky in-camera processing and, given the availabilty of reasonably priced software like Photoshop Elements, the user can do his or her own processing in RAW and then save as jpeg (or whatever) as needed. In camera storage limitations are no longer an issue with huge capacity SD cards available so why insist on creating jpeg in the camera?


June 6, 2010, 2:31 pm

I have been using this camera ( WB 660, Malaysia ) for 2 months now and find it very competent and easy to use. I have no issues with the image quality as I shoot mostly in daylight. The 15X zoom & HD video are superior to the TZ7 which I had previously. It is a much better camera than TZ7 tho I have not compared it to the TZ10


August 5, 2010, 3:02 am

I have created an account just so I can comment on this thread.

Have just posted the WB650 back to the seller for a refund.

In short this camera is the DB's and much more, in reality the photos are CRAP.Some photos turn out OK but most resemble blotchy oil paintings.

A great shame as I would have liked this camera to have worked at taking great photos but it does not. The rest of the Camera functions are brill, but what is the point of brill add ons when the image quality is crap?

Just to say some photos have come out OK , so why not a mode where the image destruction can be switched off?


August 26, 2010, 1:44 am

This is a follow up from my previous comments as I wish to be fair to both Cliff's review and the Samsung technicians.

I returned WB650 then tried a host of other compact zooms and not one of them produced a better IQ. WB650 Geo tagging and mapping leads the pack, as does the build quality. Obtained another WB650 and actually read the manual (pdf file) then got excellent results.

Am now keeping this cam as an easy to carry anywhere backup to my millstone DSLR.

In short, the point score by Cliff of 9 out of 10 is spot on and the Samsung team have done a great job. I got it wrong 1st time, this is a great camera.


September 14, 2010, 4:30 pm

david,how much did samsung pay you,thats a big backtrack,i've got this camera and as has previously been said whats the point of a camera if the image quality is poor..and it is!!! my sony compact is far superior despite it lacking on a few features which are hardly used anyway..no offence intended..just my thoughts.


November 8, 2010, 12:28 pm

Yeah, no offence meant, just my thoughts, but... accusing some-one of being corrupt IS offensive. And the inference from "How can a camera be given an overall score of 9 when its score for image quality is 7?" is that a camera with an image quality of 10 is perfect for a taking on vacation - even if it's the size of a house. Why bother with the other qualities of size, ease of use etc that determine a customer's choice if "image quality" is the only consideration? The quality of these tiny cameras is incredible. I have a TZ5 and will probably upgrade to a WB650 rather than a TZ10 now that Panasonic forbid 3rd party batteries. Yes, I would like to see lower resolution sensors with bigger more sensitive pixels, and the option to switch off in-camera image massaging, but apparently that's what the customer wants. We can't really blame the manufacturer for that.

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