Artifacts and overprocessing plague the S850's photos, rendering fine details such as text blurry. Noise begins to manifest as low as ISO 200, creeping up in the shadows. At ISO 400 the grain becomes quite recognizable on a computer monitor, though it goes unnoticed in 8x10 prints. ISO 800 photos predictably develop serious noise, and ISO 1,600 shots appear covered in heavy, detail-obscuring fuzz.
The camera tends to underexpose shots, especially those taken under incandescent lighting. Fortunately, underexposure is much easier to fix than overexposure. When your photos are underexposed, simply adjusting image levels in photo-editing software can bring out the shadow detail. Most image editors and photo kiosks can perform these functions automatically with only a few clicks. Overexposed photos, on the other hand, can completely eradicate detail found in highlights, and are much harder to recover than underexposed shots.
Colors look good in most shots, with a few minor quirks. In general, automatic white balance works well when shooting outdoors under direct or overcast sunlight, and tungsten white balance works well when shooting indoors under most incandescent and fluorescent lighting. The fluorescent preset tends to overcompensate, resulting in a slightly reddish cast. Of course, manual white balance gave the most neutral results, but needs to be reset whenever you change lighting conditions.
As one of the least expensive cameras with manual exposure controls out there, the Samsung S850 is a great choice for young or inexperienced photographers who want to step beyond simple snapshooting, without investing more than $250. While it suffers from flaws like slow shot-to-shot time, a narrow lens, and slight underexposing, you'd be hard pressed to find a better training camera for the price.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|Typical shot-to-shot time||Time to first shot||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)