Photography Reviews

9 Face-Offs of the Samsung WB850 Smart Camera Against Its Competition

samsung_wb850fSamsung is a major, global brand name in consumer electronics, but, depending on the source, it has the unenviable distinction of being ranked approximately the 4thdigital camera manufacturer. This means Samsung is constantly battling the big three, Canon, Nikon and Sony, above it on the list and all the other companies below it that want more market share…and Samsung’s share is their first target.

The Samsung WB850 Smart Camera holds its ground aggressively and successfully in the travel camera market when compared to two of its competitors, the Canon Powershot SX260 and Panasonic ZS20.

1.   Like the Canon and Panasonic, the Samsung WB850 wasn’t designed to make a fashion statement, but to be a dependable, under-the-radar looking camera that is perfect for travel. In a hurry and on the go, the WB850 focuses on function over form, so you capture the images you want quickly, easily and often with as little notice as possible. 

2.   When it comes to size (very important when traveling with a camera) the Samsung WB850 displays a bit of one-upmanship on the Panasonic ZS20. When it was released during February 2012, Panasonic touted its camera as the thinnest compact with a 20x-optical-zoom lens at just 1.1 inches (28mm). The Samsung competitor, with a later release date, is a bit thinner at .98 inches and it has a 21x-optical-zoom lens. The WB850’s complete dimensions are 4.31 x 2.44 x .98” (109 x 62 x 25mm). The Canon Powershot SX 260 is 4.19 x 2.4 x 1.29” (106.43 x 60.96 x 32.77mm), also with a 20x-optical-zoom lens. The conclusion is that, based on size, all three of these travel cameras are a good fit for pocket, purse, bag, or pack.

3.   The Samsung WB850’s slightly larger optical zoom lens (21x versus 20x) is not an overwhelming difference, but it proves Samsung knows what travel photographers want in a zoom lens. Samsung gave the WB850 a Schneider-Kreuznach, 21x optical zoom lens (23–483mm equivalent in 35mm format) with a very competitive aperture range of f/2.8–5.9. The Canon Powershot SX260’s is f/3.5–6.8 and the Panasonic ZS20 is f/3.3–6.4.

4.   As a travel photographer, you are actually better served by a mid-sized sensor, such as the 16-megapixel, backlit CMOS sensor on the Samsung WB 850. By comparison, the Panasonic is packing 14 megapixels and the Canon 12.1. If sensor size is a status-symbol thing with you, then the Samsung gives you that extra bit of oomph.

5.   You also have to give Samsung props for providing an excellent LCD display, which is critical to making travel photography easy and convenient. The WB850 has a 3”, 921,000-dot AMOLED LCD compared to the SX260 and ZS20, both of which have a 3-inch, 460,000-dot screen. Panasonic does up the ante a bit by making its LCD a touchscreen.

6.   Although the Panasonic’s touchscreen is a handy method to access the camera menu and its various settings, the Samsung WB850 features a Quick Menu capability. Press a single button and the typical settings are displayed on an-easy-to read list, which are quickly selected.

7.   What would be an excellent travelogue of your journey without colorful, fun-filled video? All three cameras record 1080p Full-HD as well as at other resolutions, and all with some variation of frame speed and other video specifications. 

8.   An essential feature on any camera that boasts of being an advanced travel compact is a GPS unit. The Samsung, Panasonic and Canon models all have one onboard. The Samsung WB850’s GPS unit includes Map View, Live Landmark, Digital Compass, Geo-tracking, World Time and Photo View.

9.   The one capability that puts the Samsung WB850 digital camera a step ahead of the Panasonic and Canon is its Smart WiFi system. WiFi connectivity is the hottest, most-wanted feature in compact cameras for 2012. Give your family and friends a daily (even hourly) update of your travel adventures by sharing your pictures and videos directly from the camera on social networking sites or via email. Samsung’s MobileLink and TV Link allow you to view all your visual images on supported devices. Send photos and movies from the camera to Microsoft Skydrive for instant storage. Use your smartphone as a point of control with Remote Viewfinder and load all your images to your PC with the one-button ease of Auto Backup.

The Samsung WB850 Smart Camera is available for pre-order (mid-May 2012) from B&H Photo Video for $379.99

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