ISO comparison

The Samsung WB850F's picture quality is very good for its class. Like many point-and-shoots, the more light you have, the better your photos will be. If you're considering this for daylight shooting, you'll likely be very satisfied with the results.

Subjects do get noticeably softer as you increase ISO, which means with less light you'll lose sharpness and fine details, and things start to look flat. (They definitely benefit from some light post-shoot sharpening.) On the other hand, the f2.8 lens and the back-illuminated CMOS sensor keeps the camera from immediately ratcheting up ISO, so you can take low-light photos (at least at the wide end of the lens) with better results than some competing models.

Basically, if you're considering this for its online-sharing capabilities and don't typically make large prints above 8x10s, regularly enlarge and heavily crop pictures, or view them at large sizes on screen, it's a fine choice.

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Photo by: Joshua Goldman/CNET / Caption by:

Color

The camera produces bright and natural colors and remain that way through ISO 800; above that they start to look slightly washed out, but still decent. Like many point-and-shoots, highlights are regularly blown out, though.

The camera's auto white balance is very good. In fact, I found myself not using the presets because they didn't seem as accurate. There is an option to take a manual reading as well as adjust the overall temperature using a simple slider.

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Photo by: Joshua Goldman/CNET / Caption by:

Backlight mode

If you notice you're losing your subject in shadows because they're backlit, the camera has a Backlight mode. Without using the flash, it will take a couple shots at different exposures and combine them to rescue shadow detail. The top photo here was taken in Program, the bottom using the this mode. It does have an effect on color, though.
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Photo by: Joshua Goldman/CNET / Caption by:

Zoom range

The WB850F's lens goes from an ultrawide-angle 23mm (top) to 483mm (bottom), an optical zoom of 21x.
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Lens distortion

For being so wide, Samsung does an excellent job of processing out any barrel distortion (top); there is some, but it's negligible. The same is true of pincushioning with the lens fully zoomed in (bottom).
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Photo by: Joshua Goldman/CNET / Caption by:

Macro

If you like to shoot close-ups, the WB850F can autofocus as close as 4 inches from a subject. As long as you keep below ISO 200 and don't enlarge too much, you'll be able to get some very nice shots with fine details.
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Photo by: Joshua Goldman/CNET / Caption by:

ASM modes

For a point-and-shoot, Samsung includes a fair amount of manual control over settings including manual and semimanual shooting modes. At the wide end, there are 10 available apertures from f2.8-8.0; at the telephoto end there are four from f5.9-8.5. Shutter speeds go from 1/2,000 second to 16 seconds.
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Photo by: Joshua Goldman/CNET / Caption by:

Smart Filters

As with most of Samsung's cameras, you'll find a large assortment of filters and effects for both photos and movies. This is just two of 14: Vignetting (top) and Sketch (bottom). For examples of the others, here's a collection taken with the WB150F.
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Photo by: Joshua Goldman/CNET / Caption by:

Artistic Brush

In the scene mode, you'll find another group of effects called Artistic Brush. It takes a photo and also captures a short MP4 movie clip of a brush zipping around "creating" the photo.
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Photo by: Joshua Goldman/CNET / Caption by:

Magic Frame

Along with the filters and effects, you get things like Magic Frame mode, which gives you 12 frame effects to add to your photos. Pick the style you want and frame up your subject in the opening. It'll capture a 2-megapixel wide-screen photo ready to upload to Facebook or shoot off in an e-mail.
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Photo by: Joshua Goldman/CNET / Caption by:

Live Panorama

Along with the photo filters and the other novelty shooting modes is a Live Panorama option that lets you capture a panorama simply by panning the camera left, right, up, or down. Viewed at larger sizes, the quality is on par with a video capture. There are also options to create 3D panoramas and Action panoramas, which shoots several photos of a subject as they move through scene and then stitches them all together.
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Photos at 483mm (f5.9, 1/90th, ISO 200)

I've included this and the following three photos so you can get an idea of quality with the lens fully extended. There is a link below each so you can open and view them at full size. These are large files, though, and may take some time to load.

View at full size.

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Photo by: Joshua Goldman/CNET / Caption by:

Photos at 483mm (f5.9, 1/750th, ISO 100)

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Photo by: Joshua Goldman/CNET / Caption by:

Photos at 483mm (f5.9, 1/30th, ISO 100)

With the shutter speed dropped to 1/30 of a second and ISO 100, you can see the optical image stabilization does a very good job of controlling hand shake.

View at full size.

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Photo by: Joshua Goldman/CNET / Caption by:

Photos at 483mm (f5.9, 1/90th, ISO 240)

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