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Samsung WB850F (with Wi-Fi) review:

Samsung WB850F (with Wi-Fi)

Lastly, battery performance is fairly mediocre. It's CIPA rated for 200 photos. That isn't good to begin with, but using the zoom lens, recording video, burst shooting, or turning on the Wi-Fi or GPS, can really cut into that shot count. If you regularly go out for a full day of shooting, you'll want to get an extra battery, and probably an external charger, too, since the battery is charged in the camera.

The Smart Panel UI gives you easy access to shooting controls. Sarah Tew/CNET

Design and features
There is a lot to like about the WB850F's design. The metal chassis gives it a nice look and feel and although the knurled lens surround doesn't actually move, it does give you something to grip.

The shooting mode dial on top lets you quickly get to what you want, including Wi-Fi and GPS options. And the spring-loaded switch around the one-touch video record button makes it easy to access both burst shooting options and frame-rate speeds for movies.

For people who like to actually take control away from the camera, Samsung includes its Smart Panel user interface. Press the Fn button and up pops all your available options. Use the control pad or surrounding dial to select what you want to change and use the zoom control to cycle through the available options.

It's fast and efficient, but it can take time to adjust to, especially if you're already familiar with another camera maker's UI. Also, Samsung includes the same shooting options laid out in a regular vertical menu system when you press the Menu button, which is unnecessary and potentially confusing. And there are two ways to select options with the Smart Panel UI, which can add to the confusion. So, thumbs up for the Smart Panel UI, thumbs down for the learning curve.

With the flash up, there's not much room to rest your finger. Sarah Tew/CNET

There are a couple other things that could be improved, too. While I appreciate having buttons to view the electronic compass and information about the nearest POI, they're not entirely necessary and a little too easy to accidentally launch when you're first learning the camera. With the flash up, there's very little room behind it for gripping the camera. Plus, the flash has to be manually popped up, and while that's not necessarily bad, the camera doesn't tell you when you may need to use it.

Key specs Samsung WB850F
Price (MSRP) $379.99
Dimensions (WHD) 4.3 inches by 2.4 inches by 1 inch
Weight (with battery and media) 6.8 ounces
Megapixels, image sensor size, type 16 megapixels, 1/2.3-inch backside-illuminated CMOS
Display size, resolution/viewfinder 3-inch AMOLED, 614K dots/None
Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length) 21x, f2.8-5.9, 23-483mm (35mm equivalent)
File format (still/video) JPEG/H.264 AAC (.MP4)
Highest resolution size (still/video) 4,608x3,456 pixels/ 1,920x1,080 at 30fps
Image stabilization type Optical and digital
Battery type, CIPA rated life Li-ion rechargeable, 200 shots
Battery charged in camera Yes; Micro-USB cable, wall adapter supplied
Storage media SD/SDHC/SDXC
Bundled software Intelli-studio, PC Auto Backup, Map Download Manager (Windows)

The wireless features in general are easy to set up and use, though without a touch screen entering usernames and passwords can take some time. Thanks to a built-in minibrowser, Wi-Fi networks that require you to agree to terms and conditions before you can connect -- such as those at hotels and airports -- will work with this camera.

You can upload directly to Facebook, Picasa, YouTube, and Photobucket. Up to 20 files at a time can be sent with the total size being 10MB or less. The catch is that photos must be 2 megapixels or smaller and video is limited to 30-second clips recorded at 320x240-pixel resolution. Photos shot at higher resolutions will automatically resize while uploading, but movies will not. Photos can be sent by e-mail directly from the camera, too, but have the same restrictions.

Two apps are available for iOS and Android that work with the camera. The MobileLink app lets you send photos and videos straight to a smartphone for sharing when you don't have Wi-Fi. Then there's the Remote Viewfinder app that gives you control over the camera using your smartphone's screen from about 20 feet away. You can control flash, timer, resolution (2 or 10 megapixels), zoom, and the shutter release.

Once you snap a photo it's stored on the camera, but you'll also see a small version on your phone screen. Tap it and you'll see a larger version that can be saved to your smartphone resized to VGA (640x480 pixels) quality. It's pretty cool, but its overall usefulness is debatable. It's good for setting up self-portraits and group shots, but because there's a significant lag between tapping your smartphone's screen and the camera responding you have to remain fairly still to get the shot you want.

General shooting options Samsung WB850F
ISO sensitivity (full resolution) Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
Photo Filter) Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent H, Fluorescent L, Tungsten, Custom, Color Temp
Recording modes Smart Auto, Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, Scene, Magic Plus (Panorama (Live, Action, 3D), Magic Frame, Split Shot, Picture in Picture, Artistic Brush, HDR, 3D photo, Creative Movie Maker), Movie
Focus modes Center AF, Multi AF, Tracking AF, Face Detection AF, Face Recognition AF, Selection AF, Manual Focus
Macro 3.9 inches (Wide); 4.9 feet (Tele)
Metering modes Multi, Spot, Center-weighted, Face Detection AE
Color effects Multiple photo and movie filters
Burst mode shot limit (full resolution) Eight

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.

But, if a reliable auto mode is equally or more important to you, well, it's got that, too. Its Smart Auto uses scene recognition to choose the appropriate settings based on 20 scene types, including ones for backlit subjects.

Samsung's Magic Plus mode offers several effects to play with. Sarah Tew/CNET

The WB850F also has a big selection of photo filters, many of which are available for movies, too. They can be used before or after you take a photo (the camera actually has more editing options in playback than most point-and-shoots), and Samsung gives you a live view of the effects when you shoot. Depending on the effect, images are either captured at full resolution or 5 megapixels, which is plenty for Web sharing or small prints. You can read more about its many shooting options in the sample photo slideshow.

Conclusion: Recommended
If you're looking for a compact megazoom as a companion to a smartphone camera, the WB850F is one of the best options you're going to find. The Sony Cyber-shot HX30V, has better shooting performance and photo quality, but for some users the differences will be slight and Samsung delivers a better Wi-Fi experience. For snapshooters looking to enter the world of connected cameras, the WB850F is a good place to start.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot  
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (dim)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20
Nikon Coolpix S9300
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX30V
Canon PowerShot SX260 HS
Samsung WB850F
Typical continuous-shooting speed (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Typical continuous-shooting speed  

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