The Samsung WB2100 is a competent picture maker that is capable of producing consistently excellent still images and decent HD video. Performance was dependably competitive with similar ultra-zoom cameras from other manufacturers.
The WB2100 features a TTL Contrast Detection AF system with Center AF, Multi AF, Face AF, and Tracking AF. The WB2100’s AF system analyzes the scene in front of the lens then calculates camera-to-subject distance to determine which AF point (in multi AF mode) is closest to the primary subject and then locks focus on that AF point. The WB2100’s AF system is consistently quick to acquire the subject and locks focus with dependable accuracy.
The WB2100 utilizes an optical image stabilization system with built-in gyro-sensors to detect camera shake and then shift an element in the zoom lens rapidly and precisely to compensate for that involuntary minor camera movement.
I couldn’t find any battery/power duration numbers for the WB2100, but based on my experiences with the camera – battery life is a little below the average for cameras of this class. I used the camera heavily for two weeks and had to charge the battery twice.
At the end of the day (when reviewing ultrazoom) everything comes down to the lens, since those monster optics are main claim to fame for this class of cameras. When the WB2100 is powered up, the lens automatically telescopes out of the lens housing. When the camera is powered down, the lens is fully retracted back into the lens housing and a built-in iris style lens cover closes to protect the front element. Ten years ago 10x was considered a long zoom so the WB2100’s f3.0-f5.9/4.6mm-152.5mm (25mm – 875mm equivalent) 35x zoom is the star of the show here–allowing WB2100 users to stand in one spot and cover everything from grand vista wide-angle landscapes to super-telephoto shots of distant wildlife.
The f/3.0 maximum aperture is barely fast enough for shooting indoors, but should be more than fast enough for most outdoor shooting–at least in decent light. Center sharpness is pretty good overall, but at the wide-angle end of the zoom corners are very slightly soft. I didn’t notice any vignetting (dark corners) and both barrel and pincushion distortion are visible, but seem well corrected. Contrast is balanced (but a little flat) and colors are hue accurate and amazingly neutral. Chromatic aberration is remarkably well controlled, but some very minor color fringing is present in the color transition areas between dark foreground objects and bright backgrounds. Zooming is smooth, but fairly slow when compared to cameras with shorter zooms. Interestingly, there is much less motor noise than I expected–due, I’m sure, to Samsung’s silent motor. The 35x can be used during video capture. Samsung has included a new lens housing zoom toggle button that is especially useful when using the zoom during video capture. Personally, I liked the new lens housing zoom toggle button best for adjusting the zoom while shooting verticals. It’s much easier than using the standard zoom toggle switch surrounding the shutter button. Since I shoot about 70 percent of my images in vertical format I found this new control especially useful.
With most ultrazoom digicams the maximum telephoto setting can be more of a curse than a blessing–since long zoom digicams produce images that are notoriously soft at the maximum telephoto setting. Maybe because Samsung’s optical and mechanical engineers showed some restraint with the WB2100’s slightly shorter than average zoom explains why the lens is much sharper (at the long end of the zoom) than expected.
The WB2100 captures HD video at 1920x1080p at 60i fps and the 35x zoom can be used during filming. This camera also provides an HDMI out so that users can watch their HD video clips on their wide screen TVs. The WB2100’s video mode has one frustrating shortcoming. When users press the start/stop control to start recording – the WB2100’s LCD goes dark for about one second before video capture actually begins, which rather defeats the purpose of having a “instant” start/stop video button. Since video capture doesn’t start until a second after you push the button, it will be necessary to anticipate the beginning of your video and press the start/stop button at least a second before the action you wish to capture commences. The video that accompanies this review was shot in mid-afternoon on a hot and very bright day. This is my first macro video and I am impressed with just how nicely the WB2100 captured my close-up bee/passionflower interaction.
The WB2100’s image files and videos are clearly optimized for accurate real world colors. Images display very good resolution (sharpness) with the most neutral color I have ever seen from an ultrazoom camera. Most point and shoot cameras boost color saturation, so it is refreshing to see real world colors rather than the circus colors generated by most of them. The WB2100’s images are highly-detailed and surprisingly sharp with very accurate neutral colors and good contrast. Image quality, across the board, is noticeably better than average for cameras in this class.