Samsung Smart WB350F Review: Great wireless implementation, but is that all that’s needed?

Price

46,000

Tech2 Rating

6.5

Compare Item

3
By Nimish Sawant /  08 Apr 2014 , 16:19:23

Samsung may be the leader when it comes to mobile phone sales, but in the camera segment, it is overshadowed by Japanese players such as Canon, Nikon and Sony. However, that hasn’t stopped Samsung from bringing out its SMART cameras. It has two main sub-divisions of its smart cameras – the point and shoot based smart cameras and the mirrorless smart cameras such as the NX series.

Off late, Samsung has blurred the lines between a camera and smartphone, by coming out with phones with point and shoot camera functionalities – such as the Samsung S4 Mini Zoom or coming out with cameras that sport the Android OS – such as the Galaxy NX series camera. It is trying to give buyers still looking at mid-range point and shoot cameras an added incentive with Wi-Fi and NFC functionality baked in. But is that the only reason to consider its latest, the Samsung WB350F? We find out.

Build and Design

The Samsung WB350F is a compact travel zoom. Although we got the white one, it also comes in black. On the front face, the WB350F has a white textured faux-leather finish. This has become a Samsung standard off late, last seen on the Galaxy Note 3 and Grand 2 smartphones.

Samsung WB350F comes with a 21x optical zoom
Samsung WB350F comes with a 21x optical zoom

The metallic top is minimally designed with a pop-up flash unit on the left hand side, followed by a power button, shutter button surrounded by the zoom lever and the mode dial on the right hand side. On tapering edge from the top, you have the pop-up flash button on the left and a Direct Link button on the right hand side. On the rear side you have the regular arrangement of buttons which you generally see on most point and shoot cameras – a 460k-dot 3-inch LCD touchscreen on the left hand side and a directional pad on the right surrounded by four circular buttons. There is a record button embedded in the thumb rest. The WB350F does not have a protruding palm grip in the front, but the textured finish gives enough grip.

Samsung WB350F has a 3-inch 460k dot touchscreen LCD screen on the rear side
Samsung WB350F has a 3-inch 460k dot touchscreen LCD screen on the rear side

The buttons are ergonomically arranged and are within easy reach. Barring the pop-up flash button, the camera can be operated single-handedly. The touch response is also quite good and we did not face any lag while swiping through the photos or changing the focus. Overall, the build quality is good for a travel zoom camera.

Features

Samsung WB350F houses a 1 / 2.3-inch 16.3MP BSI CMOS sensor and features a 21x optical zoom. The equivalent focal length of the lens goes from 23-483mm with a maximum aperture range from f/2.8 to f/5.9. The ISO range stretches from ISO 80 to 3200.

Apart from the high optical zoom, the other main feature of the WB350F which also gives it the Smart moniker is the presence of Wi-Fi and NFC onboard. The WB350F is geared towards sharing from the camera itself. It is not a surprise that it takes in a microSD card, in place of a regular SD card to store photos. You will need the Samsung Smart Camera app to do that. The Wi-Fi option on the mode-dial has multiple options such as Mobile Link, Remote Viewfinder, Baby Monitor, Auto Backup, Email, SNS and Cloud and Samsung Link.

So it not only allows you to transfer images to your mobile devices, but you can also use the camera remotely via your devices through the Samsung Smart Camera app. You can also directly email the photographs to your friends if you have a working Wi-Fi connection around.

The top surface of the Samsung WB350F is minimal in nature
The top surface of the Samsung WB350F is minimal in nature

The mode dial is also a bit different from the regular ones, in the sense that it clubs the Aperture priority mode, Shutter priority mode and Manual mode under one section. Other modes include Program mode, Smart filter mode, Beauty face mode, Settings mode and so on. Switching between the ASM modes is annoying and slows down your speed of operation. Also, since there are no dedicated control dials, adjusting parameters requires extra navigational steps. For instance, in the Aperture priority mode, if you want to adjust the aperture, you will have to click OK once to bring up the aperture range and then either via touch or the D-pad get to your optimal aperture count.

Other parts of the user interface are easily understandable. On the right hand side of the screen, you will get all the information regarding ISO value, image size, no of shots remaining, battery level and so on. On the left hand side you get clickable buttons which will take you to that contextual setting. You have a Menu button on the left hand corner and a Fn (function) button on the right hand corner of the screen which leads you to the quick settings menu. The interface is pleasing, but touch operations are a bit slower than if there were dedicated buttons for these functions.

Smart Mode has a variety of shooting presets such as Waterfall, Sunset, Silhouette, Panorama and so on. You also get effects, photo and movie filters, photo editor and other options under the Effects mode on the mode dial. While manipulating images in these modes, you will notice that the camera limits the resolution to 3MP or 5MP, which is a bit odd.

Performance

Studio ISO tests

The ISO performance of the WB350F isn’t as great as we would have liked. ISO 80 and ISO 100 are decent, in the sense that edges are well defined and objects are relatively noise free. From ISO 200 – ISO 400, you will see loss of detail only in the very finer parts of the image. For instance, the coloured threads lost most of the definition from ISO 400 onwards. ISO 800 you will notice noise quite prominently and things just go downhill from there.

Note: All images shown below have been resized. In order to see the full resolution images, click on the image. To see the complete image samples gallery visit our Samsung Smart WB350F Flickr gallery. 

ISO 80
ISO 80
ISO 100
ISO 100
ISO 200
ISO 200
ISO 400
ISO 400
ISO 800
ISO 800
ISO 1600
ISO 1600
ISO 3200
ISO 3200

Image quality and auto focus

Colours produced by the Samsung WB350F are quite neutral in appearance. Centre-sharpness is intact but the edges are much softer, which is expected from point and shoots. Daylight image quality is good till ISO 400, after which you notice noise. Although the zoom is great, you need to be really steady to get a decent image.

While shooting trees or gardens, you will notice that WB350F is barely able to retain much detail at 100 per cent crop over ISO 400. Low light performance is disappointing, especially considering that it boasts of a backside illuminated CMOS sensor. Overall, we were not particularly impressed with the image quality. If your aim is just sharing images on your mobile devices, it is good enough. But at 100 percent crops you will notice the shortcomings with the image quality. In fact, we noticed that the Samsung S4 Zoom’s camera had a better image quality. The touch AF is quick and you can even fire off the shutter after touch focussing. In daylight we faced no issues with focussing, but in low light, it starts hunting for focus.

Note: All images shown below have been resized. In order to see the full resolution images, click on the image. To see the complete image samples gallery visit our Samsung Smart WB350F Flickr gallery. 

ISO 100, 1/500th sec
ISO 100, 1/500th sec
ISO 100, 1/1000th sec
ISO 100, 1/1000th sec
ISO 400, 1/4th sec
ISO 400, 1/4th sec
ISO 800, 1/200th sec
ISO 800, 1/200th sec
ISO 400, 1/6th sec
ISO 400, 1/6th sec
ISO 400, 1/15th sec
ISO 400, 1/15th sec
ISO 800, 1/10th sec
ISO 800, 1/10th sec

Wireless functionality

This is one redeeming feature of the phone, specially for those hyper-connected individuals who want to share their images as soon as they are clicked. As discussed above, the Wi-Fi feature offers you to transfer images, shoot remotely and even mail or share images on social media. Navigating the user interface is quite easy and there were no issues with connecting the app from the smartphone to the camera. The remote shooting feature is minimal and gets the job done, although the zoom functionality isn’t as smooth as we would have liked.

Video Performance

Video performance was average, and in the continuous AF mode, the focus hunting is quite obvious. You will notice rolling shutter as you pan the camera, the image stabilisation isn’t good. One good thing though is the absence of zoom motor noise which was quite audible in the point and shoots we had tested in the past. Low light video shooting is poor both in terms of quality as well as locking the focus.

Verdict and Price in India

Samsung Smart WB350F comes at an MRP of Rs 21,490, which definitely seems to be on the higher side – the Wi-fi functionality notwithstanding – considering that its image quality and overall performance are not that impressive. If you are going to shoot outdoors during the day and keep the ISO under 400, you will get decent images. But that is limiting a camera’s ability, specially a travel zoom with manual functionality on it.

Online retailers are selling the WB350F for Rs 17,000 which is a decent price tag. But go for this camera only if your main aim is to share images as soon as they are made. If you want comparatively better image quality, and are willing to let go of the wireless functionality, then look at Canon (SX 2xx HS series) or Nikon’s (S9500) offering in the under Rs 20,000 price point.


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

CAMERAS Reviews

SMARTPHONE Reviews

CAMERA Reviews