The Samsung WB150’s most notable features – and the feature list is not short – are an 18x optical zoom lens and WiFi connectivity. Samsung has been offering WiFi capability in the past several generations of its point-and-shoot cameras. This camera is capable of pairing with an Android device, the latest and greatest trend in camera connectivity. By downloading an app to your Android tablet or phone, you’ll be able to set up a wireless connection to your camera. From the phone or tablet, you can view images then select those you’d like to download and save. And via old-fashioned WiFi connectivity, you can send files straight to Facebook, Picasa, YouTube and Microsoft’s cloud-based SkyDrive storage space.
Oh, and it takes pictures.
An 18x zoom range is impressive in this compact ultrazoom form factor. It presents a lot of flexibility and extra reach, something travelers and casual nature photographers might find especially attractive. This lens starts at a wide 24mm, plenty wide enough to capture a sweeping landscape. You’ve heard it before here, but an 18x zoom also presents some challenges. The (almost) pocketable form factor is convenient, but holding the camera still for a clear shot at full telephoto will be difficult. In low light conditions, a sharp shot without flash at full zoom will likely be impossible. Good high ISO performance would be helpful, but I’m sorry to report that preliminary tests have not shown the WB150F to be a low-light superstar.
The good news? The WiFi features have all worked seamlessly for me. I have yet to test the peer-to-peer connection with an Android device but connecting with my home wireless was easy. Keying in my network password was no more of a hassle than doing the same on any other wireless appliance or device without a keyboard. I sent an image to Facebook with no problem – it appears on your own wall (excuse me, timeline) with a default “WB150F” caption if you choose not to enter one yourself.
I took the WB150 for some preliminary shooting out at the ballpark and to Cincinnati’s Findlay Market. It handles pretty well, with a nice sculpted grip on the right side and a little thumbrest on the back. I’d have liked something with a tackier texture to provide a little non-slippage, but overall ergonomics are nice. The power button requires a firmer press than most others that I’ve used.
The WB150 offers aperture and shutter priority shooting modes as well as a full manual mode. They’re assigned to the mode dial. A screen pops up with A S and M options when the mode is selected. Camera settings and WiFi options are also reached via the mode dial. As for image quality, the WB150 is looking somewhat average so far. It has a tendency to capturing images with a cool-ish tint in auto white balance mode, even though the live preview on the LCD appears much warmer. Colors pop, especially outdoors, and a nice Macro Mode will let you get very close to your subject.
There’s a lot more shooting to do before we can judge image quality one way or another, but one thing’s for sure – Samsung’s commitment to wireless connectivity and integrating its cameras with other devices is a smart move. If the point-and-shoot is going to survive, it can’t exist in a digital vacuum any longer. We’ll have a detailed analysis of the WB150F shortly in our full review.