ISO comparison

These are 100 percent crops of photos of our test scene at each of the camera's available ISO settings. For the WB250F features come before photo quality. I'm not saying the photos are bad, just that if you're shopping by megapixels, you probably won't like the results when viewed at full size, limiting how much you'll be able to enlarge and crop. However, if you're main concerns are getting better photos than a smartphone and a megazoom lens in a smallish body at a good price, then you're set with the WB250F.

Like many point-and-shoots with its price and features, the WB250F does well up to ISO 400, so you'll be able to get good-looking shots when you have plenty of light. Photos get noticeably softer from noise reduction at sensitivities above ISO 400; going above ISO 800 isn't recommended as you lose too much detail and colors desaturate. That said, the built-in flash is actually useful since it can be angled up and bounced, getting you better results than you'd have without flash or with a blast of direct light that you'd get from other camera flashes.

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Photo by: Joshua Goldman/CNET / Caption by:

Built-in flash

Pop-up flashes aren't uncommon on compact cameras, but few can be tilted back allowing you to bounce the light off ceilings and walls. The WB250F's flash can do just that and can make a big difference in your results. These three shots were taken in Auto mode. Without the flash (top) the camera uses ISO 800. Using the flash and leaving it pointed forward (middle), the camera uses ISO 100, but you end up with a typical crappy point-and-shoot flash photo. (It's better to use this position for backlit subjects.) Pulling the flash back and bouncing off the ceiling (bottom), the camera only goes up to ISO 240 and makes a difference in overall quality.

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Photo by: Joshua Goldman/CNET / Caption by:

Color performance

Colors are natural and pleasing from the WB250F. At least up through ISO 800; with ISO sensitivities above that the colors desaturate and look muddy. White balance tends to be a little cool and exposure is generally good, but highlights can and will blow out, though that's common with small-sensor compacts.
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Photo by: Joshua Goldman/CNET / Caption by:

Macro

The WB250F can focus as close as 2 inches from a subject. As long as you keep to ISO 100, you can get some nice fine detail. This is a 100 percent crop of the inset photo.
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Photo by: Joshua Goldman/CNET / Caption by:

Zoom range

The WB250F's lens goes from an ultrawide-angle 24mm (top) to 432mm (bottom).
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Photo by: Joshua Goldman/CNET / Caption by:

Smart Zoom

You have to be careful when using the zoom in Smart Auto mode, though, because there is no way to shut off Samsung's digital Smart Zoom, which reduces resolution and looks bad to boot.
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Photo by: Joshua Goldman/CNET / Caption by:

Optical image stabilization

The optical image stabilization works well. The top photo is with it off with the lens fully zoomed in; the bottom with it on.
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Photo by: Joshua Goldman/CNET / Caption by:

Lens distortion

There seems to be a small amount of barrel distortion at the wide end of the lens (top), but no pin-cushioning with the lens extended (bottom).
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Photo by: Joshua Goldman/CNET / Caption by:

Fringing

Fringing in high-contrast areas of photos is visible when photos are viewed at larger sizes, such as the purple and yellow fringe around these statues. The amount is pretty average for this class of camera.
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Photo by: Joshua Goldman/CNET / Caption by:

ASM modes

If you like to have more control over your results, the WB250F does have aperture- and shutter-speed-priority modes as well as full manual. Shutter speeds can be set from 16 seconds to 1/2000 second. Available apertures at the wide end include: f3.2, f3.6, f4.2, f4.6, f5.2, f5.8, f6.6, and f7.3; in telephoto you have just three: f5.8, f6.8, and f7.6.
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Photo by: Joshua Goldman/CNET / Caption by:

Smart scene modes

However, if you don't care much about taking control away from the camera and are just looking for an auto mode to handle a particular shot, Samsung's Smart mode has you covered. For example, among its 13 options is a Waterfall mode that takes long-exposure shots (1.7 seconds in this case, so you'll have to put on a support). Similarly, there is an Action Freeze mode that will use a faster shutter speed to stop motion for pictures like the previous slide -- all without worrying about over- or underexposing the photo.
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Photo by: Joshua Goldman/CNET / Caption by:

Panoramas

Also in the Smart mode is shoot-and-sweep panorama mode. They don't look great viewed at full size, but certainly good enough for online sharing or small prints.
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Photo by: Joshua Goldman/CNET / Caption by:

Split shot

Samsung's Magic mode is where you'll find a selection of novelty shots, such as creating animated GIFs on the fly called Motion Photo and Split Shot, which lets you take two or three photos in vertical or horizontal configurations.
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Photo by: Joshua Goldman/CNET / Caption by:

Photo filters

Magic Plus mode is also where you'll find photo filters for you to play with when you're shooting photos and video. All of the filters are live view, so you can see what your final shot will look like before you take it. Take a closer look.
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Photo by: Joshua Goldman/CNET / Caption by:
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