- Big 18x optical zoom lens
- Manual exposure modes
- In-camera art modes
- Excellent Wi-Fi features
- Noise at ISO 400 and up
- Only 720p video
- More clipped highlights than usual
The Samsung WB150F delivers on its promises of Wi-Fi connectivity. While the sharing features are reliable, other aspects of image quality and camera performance don't keep pace.
The Samsung WB150F has two primary attractions on a very lengthy list of advanced features. It carries an 18x Schneider-Kreuznach optical zoom lens, covering a range equivalent to 24-432mm in 35mm terms. It also offers wireless photo uploading. This it offers in spades – not only is it capable of connecting to Wi-Fi networks, its able to make a direct connection with a compatible tablet or smartphone for file transfer without the need for any wireless network. With a Wi-Fi connection enabled, files can be sent straight to several social platforms including Facebook.
Beyond wireless and zoom capabilities, there’s still plenty of appealing features here for shooters of all skill levels. It offers manual exposure modes, a suite of creative filters for photo and video and Samsung’s Smart auto exposure mode. Let’s dive in and see what she’s got.
Build and Design
The svelte Samsung WB150F adheres to a classic “travel zoom” point-and-shoot aesthetic. It has a rounded right hand grip and a big 18x Schneider-Kreuznach lens occupying most of the front panel. There’s a sturdy metal ring at the base of the lens, but the camera and lens barrel all seem to be made of a composite plastic.
Unlike DSLR-like ultrazooms, the compact travel zoom is designed to be lightweight and easy to stash in a small bag or a large pocket. It lacks the electronic viewfinder you’d find on most bigger ultrazooms, but most users won’t miss it. A 3.0-inch LCD is the only source for image composition and playback.
At the core of the WB150F is a 14.2 megapixel CCD sensor, of the typical 1/2.3-inch configuration. It accepts SD, SDHC and SDXC memory media, and though it offers manual exposure modes, does not allow for RAW image recording. The camera ships with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that will charge in the camera via an included AC adapter.
Ergonomics and Controls
The control layout of the WB150 doesn’t present any unusual surprises. There’s a typical compass-style control pad with shortcuts to display, flash, timer and focus settings. A dedicated video record button is handy for starting video in a flash. Controls are comfortable and don’t feel cramped.
I would have liked a more tactile grip on the camera’s smooth right-handed grip. There’s a thumb rest on the back panel providing a little more support, but the camera doesn’t feel steady enough for one-handed shooting. I also struggled with the power button – it requires a very firm, commanding press. That means it won’t suffer from a lot of accidental power-ups in your bag, but it was just enough of an annoyance that I noticed several times my attempt to turn the camera on and nothing happened. The camera’s hardware feels a bit cheap, the zoom ring being a primary offender.
Menus and Modes
The WB150 employs a modern graphical interface with neat divisions in camera modes and functions. Here’s a tour around the camera’s mode dial and some of the sub-modes you’ll find there:
- Program: P gets its own space on the mode dial. Aperture and Shutter Priority are tucked away with Manual mode on a separate dial position.
- Scene: Modes include night, landscape, text, beauty shot, beach & snow. User input is strictly limited in these modes.
- Filter modes: Marked by a camera icon with a star, this dial setting offers access to Samsung’s magic frame, live panorama, split shot (3 megapixel image), picture in a picture and a variety of photo filters (all the usual suspects like miniature, retro, vignette, sketch, cross filter) and video effects (many of the same, some palatte effects).
- Movie: In addition to the one-touch video button, this mode allows for video recording with exposure compensation and adjustments to metering.
- SMART: A full auto mode that makes virtually all decisions. Users are able to change photo size and flash on/off.
- Wi-Fi: Pictures can be shared in one of two ways – by choosing this mode on the dial and then connecting with a network, or by selecting a sharing option from the menu when reviewing images.
A quick menu is accessed via the back panel’s menu button, with shortcuts to ISO white balance EV focus and flash right up front where they should be. I was a big fan of the organization and responsiveness of this interface. The back button returns you to the last screen, and a half press of shutter returns you to shooting screen quickly. It’s a good division of modes and functions, without any confusing overlap. If you need to dive deeper into camera settings, that menu is never far away since it’s on the mode dial.
Artistic Brush is a fun little mode tucked into the starred mode dial. Select an effect like “sketch” and take a photo. An art filter is applied, but the camera also produces a little video file of a green square flying around the screen, “painting” your photo. It’s more fun than it really should be.
Beauty Shot was also very effective at evening out skin tones – almost creepily good. The trouble is, if your subject is wearing a cream colored shirt, it will get evened out in the process too it seems. There’s a picture-in-a-picture mode that’s fun to play with, as is the side-by-side framing tool, though your final image file is maxed out at 3 megapixels.
The Samsung WB150F’s 3.0-inch LCD is comprised of 460k dots. That’s not bad in terms of resolution, but it did leave something to be desired. Contrast and brightness were just fine, and the LCD fared okay in bright outdoor light. There’s no viewfinder of any sort, which is just fine in a camera this size. We measured LCD peak brightness at a fairly low 388 nits.