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Samsung WB250F Review: Kid Friendly Camera
by Laura Hicks -  3/28/2013

Samsung has spent the last few years revitalizing their imaging product line. Most recently their additions include the NX300, EX2F, NX20, and the subject of this review, the WB250F. With these new cameras, Samsung is further cementing their reputation as a leader in the smart camera genre. Enabling users to quickly transfer images from the camera to their smart phone or tablet, this technology makes sharing your images easier than ever before.

Build and Design
The Samsung WB250 is a lightweight point and shoot camera that is easily pocketable. The body of the camera is made of a plastic material that allows for the camera's all-day-go-anywhere mentality. It weighs 6.8oz and measures 2.4 inches(h)x4.2 inches(w)x1.3 inches(d). The camera's design is very similar to several other Samsung cameras from the rounded hand grip to the placement of the lens. The WB250F features a 14.2-megapixel 1/2.33-inch BSI (backside-illuminated) CMOS sensor with an 18x zoom lens. The f/3.2-5.8 lens is the equivalent of 24-432mm in 35mm format. The WB250F gives users the option to use Intelli-zoom, further expanding their focal range. The camera also features optical image stabilization.

The Samsung WB250F has undergone a few alterations from the original design of its predecessor, the WB150F. Most markedly is the new touchscreen and the improved placement of the pop-up flash.

The camera offers 9.5MB of internal memory. The WB250F also accepts SD, SCHC and SDXC cards. Images are recorded in JPG format. Movies are recorded as MP4 files.

Based on the price point of $250 and its less than premium materials, the WB250F looks to be designed for the casual shooter. That being said, the casual shooter will most likely enjoy its fun features and ease of use.

Ergonomics and Controls
The Samsung WB250F has simplistic, yet practical ergonomics. Similar to some of the more expensive Samsung cameras, the WB250F has a hand grip that is easy to hold and will allow for plenty of shooting without tiring one's hand. The front of the camera is void of any physical buttons --only a lens resides there. The top of the camera features a direct link button that accesses the camera's Wi-Fi with one touch.  The power button sits just left of center. To the right of the power switch is a built-in flash which is triggered by an oblong button on the right of the flash. A -/+ toggle switch controls the zoom function. On the far right of the top of the camera sits the mode dial. Included on this dial is a variety of modes: auto, Wi-Fi, several special functions, P, and an all-in-one A-S-M mode. The back of the camera houses the majority of physical buttons. A dedicated movie button rests on the top right side of the thumb rest, giving you one touch movie recording. A four way dial with an "OK" button in the middle houses the macro function, flash function, display mode, and continuous shooting mode. Around this dial you can find the menu, return, playback and delete buttons. The buttons are logical and require little to no photographic knowledge.

Menus and Modes
This camera has a similar feature set as most other point and shoot cameras.  The menu is simple to navigate. Those with little photographic experience can easily use the auto mode or, if desired, the user can learn about the camera's function through a tutorial based menu. The camera walks you through each setting with a description of the function. You can choose to display this tutorial or close the feature by pushing the trash/delete button. Both the menus and modes are user friendly. Samsung has repeatedly done a good job of creating a simple, enjoyable camera experience for the user -- especially those with little to no knowledge of cameras.

Display/Viewfinder
The WB250F offers users a 3-inch TFT LCD touchscreen made of 460,000 dots. It is clear and easy to see. However, use of the camera in bright conditions will render the screen somewhat difficult to see. The user can choose to change camera settings through the touchscreen or through the physical buttons. The display can be set to show the user quite a bit of data about the settings or to show just the image only. The display is a fixed screen and cannot be tilted or swiveled. A viewfinder is not present on this camera, nor can one be added.

The LCD screen displays images that are clear and generally represent the accurate image color. The movement on the screen while in movie and still image mode is fluid and smooth.

Performance
The Samsung WB250F is a general purpose camera for the casual shooter. It produces average to good image quality. For those looking for a higher end compact point and shoot with better image quality, I would suggest the Samsung EX2F. However, those looking for a budget friendly model that will get two thumbs up from the kids, the WB250F might be the right option for you.

Shooting Performance
The camera powers up quickly and easily. I had no problems reaching for the camera and having it respond quickly when I wanted a fast snapshot. I generally left the camera in auto mode and it performed well in this mode. I found that the camera did a good job of choosing the appropriate shutter speed and aperture for each image. Accessing the manual modes was not difficult, but I rarely found myself trying to use these functions. The camera utilizes TTL (through-the-lens) autofocus and manual focus. While in TTL autofocus, several AF functions can be utilized including center AF, multi AF, tracking AF, face detection AF, and touch AF. The various types of autofocus responded quickly and without issues. The WB250F features a shutter speeds from 1/8 of a second to 1/2000 of a second. Depending on the environment, the camera will choose the correct shutter speed. Although the auto mode generally produced good results, low-light photography was one area that the camera was lacking. It would try to push the limits of hand held shutter speeds with lack luster results. Indoor images at low shutter speeds would result in blurred images. Obviously, this is a normal occurrence, but as point and shoot cameras get better in low light, people expect to be able to hand hold at lower shutter speeds. Just be aware that the WB250F is not a great performer in this category. In addition, the camera has an ISO range of 100-3200. This also contributes to the camera's sub-standard performance in low light. It simply does not have an ISO range that can support dark situations.

The flash was only OK. It tended to leave the subjects way too bright or not bright enough. I also experienced an edge blur effect on several of my flash images. I checked to make sure the slow sync was not activated. It was not, but this effect did result when I was in very low lighting.

The battery is charged in-camera through a micro-USB cable attached to a wall adapter.  The battery, which is a Li ion rechargeable, allows users to take approximately 300 images before needed to be recharged.

Lens Performance
The WB250F offers an 18x zoom lens with the equivalent of 24-432mm. This is a great zoom lens, especially when you realize how compact this camera is. If you choose, you can use the camera's Intelli-Zoom feature and get even closer to your subject. But beware, the camera's additional zoom feature does not yield the sharpest results. The lens has an aperture range of f/3.2-5.8. Although this lens cannot be considered a fast lens, it is quite average for a point and shoot camera in this price range. One of my complaints with the zoom lens is the sizeable lag that occurs when you start to zoom in or out. Even for a lower priced point and shoot, the lag is more than I expected.

Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi functionality works well. It easily connected to my iPhone after I downloaded the free Samsung Smart Camera app. Images quickly transferred to my phone without hesitation. My only gripe about the Wi-Fi is that when you are downloading images to your phone, Wi-Fi connection from your phone is inaccessible.

Image Quality
Image quality was average to good. I would easily place this up against other mid-range point and shoots. Clearly, this camera's images do not have the same clarity or color expected from a high end DSLR, but that also would not be a fair comparison. For this sized sensor, the camera image quality rendered as expected. The WB250F functioned well across all ISO ranges. The camera showed very little grain even at high ISOs. Overall, however, the higher the ISO, the softer the images became due to noise reduction software. The macro feature was nice, but also left images a bit too soft for my taste.

One of the best features of this camera was all of the fun in-camera effects. Especially appealing to the younger generation, these effects offer hours of enjoyment and laughs. The motion photo effect was a fan favorite in my house. The motion photo effect allowed us to take about 3-5 seconds worth of images. The camera would compile these images into one. We could choose which parts of the image we wanted to have motion by "erasing" that section of the image. The result would be a moving image that the camera saved as a GIF file. We spent way too much time playing with and laughing along with this feature! However, the end result was a memorable experience with my son. I could easily see purchasing this camera for my child. At this price point I would feel comfortable getting him this for Christmas or his birthday. And any camera that fosters a child's love of photography is a huge bonus for me.

In addition to the motion photo effect is a myriad of actions located in the Smart scene mode. These effects are equally as fun and allow for a variety of creative shooting techniques. Freeze action and magic plus effects are tops on my list, giving users the ability to edit and create specialty images with ease.

Generally, I would prefer to use this camera outside. But the bulk of my test shots were indoors due to inclement weather during the two weeks I had with this camera. I think the camera would have produced even better results if I could have used it more outdoors.

 

Conclusion
The WB250F is a nice option for those casual photographers on a budget. With a retail price of about $250, this camera offers plenty of features -- especially Wi-Fi. That being said, discerning point and shoot photographers will want to look for another option...possibly the Samsung EX2F, which received much praise in our recent review. Image quality is not the best feature of this camera. It is good, but not great.

The WB250F did received two thumbs up from my nine year old son who absolutely loved the motion photo effect along with some fun in-camera editing effects. At first, I questioned mentioning this in the review. However, I decided that this is a huge selling point for this camera. In a market where point and shoot cameras are a dime a dozen, having a feature that sets itself out amongst the crowd is extremely important. Admittedly, the market share of children buying cameras is extremely small, yet there is nothing better as a mom than finding something positive that peaks your child's interest.

If you are comparing this camera to your smartphone, then the choice is a no-brainer. The WB250F has a much richer feature set then any smartphone out there. It's a great option for those that want a bit more than their phone can offer. Also, Samsung has done a fantastic job creating a great Wi-Fi camera. However, if you are looking for a point and shoot camera that will offer great image quality with a solid body, then you might want to set your sights toward the Samsung EX2F, also equipped with Wi-Fi.

Overall, the camera has a lot of positive features and is priced fairly at $250. 

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