Samsung is far out in front of its competition when it comes to Wi-Fi implementation in cameras, and it is models like the WB250F Smart Camera that prove it.
For less than $250, you get a capable point-and-shoot camera with an 18x zoom lens and a 14-megapixel backside-illuminated (BSI) CMOS sensor. If you stopped there, it would be a pretty average camera. But once you add in all of its Wi-Fi capabilities -- from automatically sending photos to a smartphone while you're shooting to backing up to cloud storage or e-mailing photos straight from the camera -- and you've got something that can get you better photos and videos than a smartphone without sacrificing the easy sharing.
Now, its photo quality and shooting performance -- while very good for its class -- probably won't blow you away (it's still a midrange small-sensor camera, after all). But if you're in the market for a compact megazoom as a companion to your smartphone, keep reading.
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 your 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. (For more information on this and other aspects of the WB250F's picture quality, see the slideshow above.)
Video quality is good, especially if your plans for it are just posting online or viewing at small sizes on a computer screen. There is some judder when panning the camera, and you'll see some ghosting with fast-moving subjects, but both are normal with compact cameras and not so distracting as to make video of sporting events unviewable. The zoom lens does work while recording, though the audio does mute slightly while it moves. The camera is relatively fast to refocus and adjust to exposure changes, too.
Editors' note: We recently updated our testing methodology to provide slightly more real-world performance information, so the results aren't necessarily comparable with previous testing. Until we're finished refining our procedures, we will not be posting comparative performance charts.
The WB250F isn't lightning-fast, but it is one of the fastest for its price and features. From off to first shot takes 1.5 seconds, which is very good as is its shot-to-shot time of 1 second. Using the flash only increased the shot-to-shot time to 2 seconds. Shutter lag -- the time it takes from pressing the shutter release to capture without prefocusing -- is low, too, taking 0.3 second in bright lighting and 0.4 second in dim conditions. Keep in mind, though, this is with the lens at its widest position and focusing with the lens zoomed it takes slightly longer.
If you're trying to capture a burst of action, the camera's continuous mode is capable of capturing up to six photos at 8 frames per second (my lab tests clocked it at 7.6fps). However, focus and exposure are set with the first shot, so depending on how much subject movement there is, all of the shots may not be in focus.
Design and features
Samsung made some key changes to the design of the WB250F from its predecessor, the WB150F, most it for the better. For instance, Samsung used a touch screen this time around and made almost everything on the camera controllable by either it or the physical controls, so if you're already comfortable using a touch screen for taking photos or you like physical controls, you won't feel lost here. Plus, having the touch screen makes it much faster for inputting things like passwords for the camera's wireless features.
The WB150F's flash was poorly placed on the front of the camera, but that's been replaced by a handy pop-up flash that, as I noted earlier, can be pulled back and aimed up so you can bounce the flash; a feature few if any cameras have at this price point. However, you do have to press the flash button on top next to the mode dial to use it; it won't release on its own. (The button is also very close to the corner of the flash, so those with bigger fingers may keep it from popping up.)