Samsung WB350F review

Samsung WB350F review

With a 16.3 megapixel sensor, long zoom and built-in Wi-Fi, the Samsung WB350F has specs to impress. It's a looker, too, with a retro chassis and faux-leather finish in black, brown, white, red or blue. See The 7 best CSC: the best sub-£500 compact system cameras you can buy in 2014.

Looks aside, it's the lens that will really impress, with its 23–483mm range delivering up a 21x zoom. It's stabilised, so you can still shoot handheld, even at full telephoto. See all camera reviews.

We performed our tests indoors and out under mixed weather, so the results encompassed a wide gamut of lighting conditions. Despite this, the Samsung did a great job of retaining the original colours in each of our shots, although at the longest end of the zoom we started to see some grain creeping into our overcast outdoor samples when viewing them at original size.

There was also some colour fringing at closer quarters in areas of sharp contrast. This was slight, but as you'd expect, it was a little more pronounced towards the edges and corners of the frame where the lens had to work harder to bend the incoming light towards the sensor.

Around the back you'll find a touch-sensitive 3in display paired with a full complement of hardware controls. Setting focus is a breeze – simply tap your subject on the screen, and so long as you haven't done anything improbable with the lens, it gets a fix pretty much instantly.

Maximum aperture stands at f/2.8 and f/5.9 at either end of the zoom, which at close quarters allows for beautiful shallow depth of field shots, with a quick fall-off in the level of focus around your subject. Naturally, when you're shooting in auto mode it spots when it needs to switch to macro by itself.

You've got full control over shutter speed and aperture through a combined ASM notch on the mode dial, each of which you can set by dragging a thumb across the screen.

Samsung WB350F review

The fastest exposure sits at 1/2000 second, while for darker surroundings you can open the shutter for up to 16 seconds without dipping into the scene modes, so it's ripe for twilight city shots.

If it's still too dark, you can knock up the sensitivity to a maximum of ISO 3200 – from an opening gambit of ISO 80 – with compensation of two stops in either direction, each in 1/3EV increments.

It shoots full HD movies (1920 x 1080) at 30fps, which you can downsize at the point of capture to 720p if you want to save space, or take as low as 640 x 480 for web use.

Again the results are good, with accurate colours and a high level of detail. The optical zoom remains active while shooting, but to minimise the chance of hearing its motors on the soundtrack, the WB350F semi-mutes the mic, leaving you with momentarily muffled recordings.

It can take a second or so to fix its focus on your subject if you go from wide angle to maximum telephoto, but otherwise it's certainly up to the job of shooting impromptu movies, and copes well with dramatic changes in lighting by smoothly increasing or decreasing the sensitivity as appropriate.

The camera can also connect to your existing Wi-Fi network for sharing files, or set itself up as a hotspot to which you can connect using the free remote control apps for iOS and Android.

If your phone is NFC-enabled, tapping the two together pairs them and launches the app.

Samsung WB350F review

Samsung WB350F: Specs

  • 16.3 megapixel
  • 1/2.3in CMOS sensor with BSI
  • 23-483mm lens (21x zoom)
  • 3in TFT display
  • ISO 80–3200
  • 16–1/2000 second shutter speed
  • JPEG still format
  • microSDXC card slot
  • 3.81 Wh lithium-ion battery
  • 114 x 65 x 25 mm
  • 216g
  • 16.3 megapixel
  • 1/2.3in CMOS sensor with BSI
  • 23-483mm lens (21x zoom)
  • 3in TFT display
  • ISO 80–3200
  • 16–1/2000 second shutter speed
  • JPEG still format
  • microSDXC card slot
  • 3.81 Wh lithium-ion battery
  • 114 x 65 x 25 mm
  • 216g

OUR VERDICT

All in all, then, this is a versatile, decent performer, with the zoom range, manual options and easy sharing features that will immediately endear it to more ambitious travel photographers – especially those who aren't ready to step up to a DSLR or mirrorless device. It lived up to our expectations, and it's fairly priced, to boot.