• Recommended by TR
Samsung WB650 front angle


Our Score


User Score


  • Longer than average zoom
  • Accurate GPS
  • Sharp monitor
  • Good battery life
  • Good build quality


  • Image quality not quite as good as rivals
  • Ugly design
  • Quite heavy

Review Price £149.95

Key Features: 12.1 megapixel; 15x zoom lens(28-60mm); GPS; 3in AMOLED screen; 720p video with stereo audio

Manufacturer: Samsung

As I've remarked before, the long-zoom compact or “travel camera” is one of the most fiercely competitive sectors of the digital camera market, with most of the major manufacturers fielding rival models sporting a range of advanced features. Although the format was first introduced by Ricoh with its R-series cameras in 2005, the current yardstick for travel cameras is Panasonic's TZ series, particularly the advanced TZ10 (£250), which features a 12MP sensor, a 12x zoom lens, HD video recording with stereo audio and a built-in GPS receiver. Other recent long-zoom compacts include the Ricoh CX3 (£280), the Fujifilm F70EXR (£160), the Olympus mju 9000 (£175), the Canon SX210 IS (£240) and the Sony DSC-HX5 (£290).

Samsung WB650 front angle

Samsung's previous entry into this field was the WB550 (£170), launched late last year, which while a very competent camera looked a bit pale compared to the advanced features of arch-rival Panasonic's market-leading flagship. Not to be outdone Samsung has launched a new model in the WB series, the WB650, which which matches or exceeds the TZ10 in all areas of its specification.

Priced at a competitive £250 (but likely to fall in price), the 12-megapixel WB650 features a powerful but compact 15x zoom lens, 720p HD video with stereo sound, optional manual exposure controls, built-in GPS geotagging, and an ultra-sharp three-inch high-tech AMOLED monitor screen. It's a very impressive specification to say the least, and is bound to have Panasonic's boffins scurrying back to their drawing boards.

Samsung WB650 front

The WB650 is, it has to be said, not a particularly attractive camera to look at. The overall shape of the body is very similar to the WB550, but with a black plastic lump stuck on the top to house the GPS antenna. It's quite a large and heavy camera even by long-zoom compact standards, measuring 106 x 62 x 35mm and weighing 238g fully loaded, several millimetres larger and 20g heavier than the TZ10. It's solidly made though, and the chunky body is comfortable to hold thanks to a decent-sized handgrip and a textured thumbgrip area on the back. The body is mostly plastic with a metal front panel, and is available in only one colour scheme, the matt black with chrome trim seen here.

Next page


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 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 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.

comments powered by Disqus