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May 12, 2013

Samsung WB30F Smart Camera Review

More and more compacts are starting to get into the Smart Camera bandwagon, equipping these shooters with WiFi capabilities to make them standout and more functional. One of those cameras is the Samsung WB30F Smart Camera. A tiny digital camera with a huge array of features. Take a look at our full review below.

wb30f_1

Design and Construction

Probably one of the best things about the WB30F is the design and construction. It’s slim at 16.5mm and tiny enough to be comfortably grasped. In addition, it has nice metallic finish to go along with its plastic build.

wb30f_ps3

On the front is the chunky camera lens accented by a nice aluminum ring. Beside it are the AF-assist light and the flash. Right on top of the camera is the shutter button along with the zoom controls, the power button, microphone and tiny speaker. The left side is devoid of anything while the right side has the microUSB port / AV out hidden by a plastic flap.

wb30f_ps1

Found at the bottom are the tripod screw thread as well as the battery compartment and microSD card slot. Take a look at the back and you’ll see the 3-inch LCD, while on the right hand side are the control buttons including the WiFi Direct Link button.

wb30f_ps2

Overall, the Samsung WB30F is comfortable to use but those with bigger hands and may struggle a bit when using the controls.

Sensor and Lens

The Samsung WB30F has a 1/2.3-inch, 16.2 megapixel CCD sensor which has a sensitivity range of ISO 80 to ISO 3,200. This is partnered with a Samsung 10X zoom lens (35mm-equivalent) from a 24mm wide-angle to 240mm telephoto. Maximum aperture starts at f/3.1 to f/6.3 at the telephoto end.

Display

The WB30F has a 3-inch TFT LCD with a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels or 230K dots. While the display size is good, the resolution is not. It only has a pixel density of 133ppi which makes everything look somewhat “low-res”. The evident pixelation actually makes you doubt if you captured the subject well.

display

Viewing angles are okay but not great. The display is also susceptible to glare so shooting under the bright sun could be a bit of a problem. Although there’s a lot to be desired about the display, it’s not at all a total hindrance. But if you want to see your captured photos in all its glory, you’ll have to view it on a better display like a computer, tablet or a smartphone with a gorgeous display.

Performance and Image Quality

Powering the device to being able to take your first shot takes a full 2 seconds. It’s not much of a concern if you’re going to snap stills but it could be a slight issue if you’re aiming at moments that happens quickly.

You’re more likely to use this camera in Smart Auto most of the time. The camera is pretty much fast when focusing on stills. The optical image stabilization also helps in nailing those shots if you have shaky hands. However, the Smart Auto isn’t quick enough when it comes to fast moving subjects as most shots ends up in a blur.

blur

You can also set the camera to Program Mode which is basically the Manual Mode, to set customize a few functions like setting it to Continuous Shooting but it is recommended that you use a very fast microSD card, or Motion Capture mode which is faster but you’re limited to VGA quality shots.

Macro shooting works great on the WB30F. I can really get up close, but not too close, and the camera will have no problem focusing on the subject.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

For ISO performance, images taken from ISO 80 to 400 are really great. However, images start to degrade on ISO 800. Still a bit usable but noise are already evident. ISO 1600 is ugly while ISO 3200 is pretty much unusable.

ISOcomp1

Here’s a sample of the camera’s 10x zoom:

zoom

Overall, images taken by the Samsung WB30F are sharp with really great colors especially in bright conditions. Can’t say the same thing in low-light as it is susceptible to noise. Take a look at more sample shots below:

As for shooting videos, the WB30F is capable of recording videos of up to 720p resolution at 30fps. Videos are saved using MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 compression. Watch the sample below:

WiFi and Software Features

This is the part where the Samsung WB30F excels at. It has a ton of software features in addition to its WiFi capabilities. These include the Beauty shot that automatically removes blemishes on the subject’s face, Magic Frames which is actually a collection of frames you can overlay on the subject, a total of 14 Photo Filters, 11 Movie Filters, Split Shot, Motion Photo for creating GIFs, and Panorama. There’s also a built in photo editor and photo album.

software

The best part comes when you start using the WiFi capabilities. The MobileLink Mode allows you to connect a smartphone or tablet to your camera for easy sharing, or to use your device as a remote viewfinder and trigger. For that you will need the Samsung Smart Camera App which is available for Android and iOS. Once everything is set up just hit the WiFi Direct Link button and it’ll automatically link to your mobile device and instantly transfer captured photos so you can upload it on the web.

mobilelink

However, if there are instances that your mobile device isn’t available, the Samsung WB30F is capable of hooking up to the web via WiFi so you can send photos via Email. You can also directly upload to Facebook, Picasa, YouTube and SkyDrive.

Battery Life

The WB30F comes with a 700mAh BP70A Li-ion battery with an approximate life of 220 shots. It was able to last for two days on an average of 65 shots per day with moderate WiFi transfers and 30 minutes worth of videos before the battery ran out. The good thing about the WB30F is that it charges via USB so we don’t have to worry about taking the battery out and putting it on a charging cradle.

Conclusion

Overall, we’re pretty much pleased with the Samsung WB30F Smart Camera. Before I thought WiFi-enabled cameras are just gimmicks but after using the WB30F, I realized how useful this feature is. It’s perfect for users with tablets or smartphones who like being creative on the software side but are limited with their device’s camera performance. On its own, the WB30F is still very capable when it comes to connectivity as it can directly connect to the internet. The only downside is the display quality. Hopefully Samsung will upgrade the display on its next iteration. A touch screen display would also come handy.

wb30f_2

Samsung WB30F Smart Camera specs:
16.20 Megapixels, 1/2.3″ sensor
10x optical zoom (24-240mm eq.)
2x digital zoom
Optical Image Stabilisation
ISO 80 – 3200
1/8 – 1/2000 sec shutter speed
f/3.1 – 6.3 aperture
3-inch TFT LCD, 230K dots
Built-in Flash
720p video recording at 24fps
3.5MB average image size, JPEG
WiFi Connectivity w/ app support
98 x 58 x 16.5 mm
131g (w/o battery and memory card)
700mAh BP70A Li-ion battery
White, Red, Purple, Pink, Cobalt Black
SRP Php8,490

What we liked about it:
* Slim and light
* Good imaging performance
* microSD support
* microUSB charging
* Good battery life
* WiFi connectivity
* Tons of on board software features

What we didn’t like about it:
* Low-res display
* Smart Auto is slow on fast moving subjects
* Below average low-light performance

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Samsung announces NX3000 Smart Camera

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