The Samsung WB600, when released was one of the longest pocket zoom cameras you could get, packed an impressive 15x optical zoom lens into a pocketable camera body (Starting at an ultra-wide 24mm, the lens zooms all the way to 360mm equivalent) – prior to the WB600, you needed an SLR-style / “bridge” ultra zoom camera if you wanted such a large amount of optical zoom, and in some cases you still do. Since the WB600, there have been a number of newer cameras announced, with 18x optical zoom, most however, cost a lot more (over double the price in some cases), such as the Samsung WB700, Olympus SZ-10, and Nikon Coolpix S9100. A year since the introduction of the Samsung WB600, find out if this, now, bargain priced, ultra zoom camera still performs…
Samsung WB600 – Digital Camera Review (aka HZ30W)
Review Date: 02/05/2011
Rating: Highly Recommended
Author: Joshua Waller
Lets look at the camera in more detail.
Samsung WB600 – Front off – speaker at the front – seems a strange place for it, especially as you’ll be watching the video on the screen at the back of the camera, it can make it difficult to hear the video sound. There’s also a focus assist lamp, and flash.
Specifications / Features:
Sensor – 12 megapixel 1/2.3″ CCD sensor
Lens – 15x wide angle optical zoom lens (24-360mm equiv)
Screen – 3.0″ screen
Macro – 3cm macro
Continuous – ~1fps shooting
Video – 720p HD video with sound
– IS: Optical and Digital IS
– HD output: Yes
– Red-Eye Reduction: Flash, and red-eye fix.
– ISO Equivalent: Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
– Modes / Scenes: Still Image: Mode: Smart Auto, Auto ,Program, A/S/M, Dual IS, Beauty, Scene, Movie, Smart Auto: Portrait, Night Portrait, Backlight Portrait, Backlight, Landscape, White, Motion, Tripod, Night, Macro, Macro Text, Blue Sky, Sunset Sky, Macro Portrait, Natural Green, Children, Cloud, Scene: Frame Guide, Night, Portrait, Children, Landscape, Close-up, Text, Sunset, Dawn, Backlight, Fireworks, Beach & Snow, Self shot, Food, Cafe, Continuous: Single, Continuous, AEB, Motion Capture, Self-timer: 10sec, 2sec, Double, Motion Timer, Remote Controller (SCR-A5), Movie Clip: With Audio or without Audio(Max recording time: 20min), 15X Optical Zoom enable, *Smart Movie enable : Landscape, Blue Sky, Natural Green, Sunset), *Low AF & Zoom Noise while recording Movie
– Manual Exposure Compensation +/-2.0EV (1/3EV Steps),
– Exposure bracketing: Yes – Auto Bracket Function (-0.5EV, ±0, +0.5EV)
– Manual WB: Yes, other options: AUTO / Multi-Pattern AUTO / Outdoors / Cloudy / Incandescent 1 / Incandescent 2 / Fluorescent / Manual / White Balance Bracket Function
– Image Size: 12M: 4,000 x 3,000 pixels
– Dimensions: 106.6 x 60.5 x 28mm
– Weight: 210.7g (without battery and memory card)
– Specifications on Samsung’s Website.
Box contents: 1130mAh Lithium Ion battery. USB wall charger. USB cable – this is used to charge the camera, and can be plugged into the wall charger or the computer to charge the camera. Wrist strap. Plus the usual contents: CD-ROM, Quick start manual,
Battery life: I was able to take around 200+ photos before the battery went flat. This is below average for this style of camera. As the camera uses lithium ion batteries, a spare is recommended, although the ability to charge via USB may help make it easier to charge the camera where-ever you are, assuming you have good access to USB sockets / laptops / computers etc.
Recommended accessories: A large SD or SDHC memory card, 4gb or larger is recommended: SD Cards at Amazon: 1GB, 2GB. SDHC Cards at Amazon: 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, 32gb. A case is also a must buy for any digital camera, the Lowepro Rezo 30? fits the Samsung WB600 snuggly, and if you want a bit more room, and a weatherproof case, have a look at the Lowepro Apex 30AW.
Off – On – Photo: 1.9 seconds
Shot to shot (flash off): 1.2 seconds
Shot to shot with flash: 3.0 seconds
Continuous Shooting (full resolution, flash not available): 1fps
Shutter lag / response: <0.1 seconds
Focusing speed (wide): 0.45 seconds
Ease of use / Menus: The menus are easy to use and quite straight forward. There are a number of options such as manual white balance, but most of the time you shouldn’t need to alter too much, as the camera will take good photos on Auto or P mode. The camera is very easy to use, and should not need much reference to the manual. The screen quality is very good, with bright colours and excellent viewing angles.
Buttons / Ergonomics: All good, quite chunky, but still fits in pockets, and the buttons and controls are good. The controls are logical and easy to use, the shutter release is a little different to most other cameras, but once you accept it, it works exactly the way it should.
Video: Video quality is good at 720p. Optical zoom can be used while filming, and the camera records sound in stereo.
Macro photos: The camera allows you to focus as close as 3cm from the subject, this lets you get very close to the subject, and you can take great close up shots.
ISO / Noise / Low light performance: The camera features ISO80 – ISO3200. ISO80 – 200 results are good, ISO400 is where noise starts to become apparent, and ISO800 it becomes strong. ISO1600 and ISO3200 are best avoided, however the camera does a good job reducing noise. Built in image stabilisation means you can use lower ISO settings and still get sharp results, so hopefully avoid the higher ISO settings. The camera does a good job of using low ISO settings when left on AUTO ISO.
General musings? I can understand why Samsung cameras are popular, especially if the WB600 is anything to go by, it is offered at a very competitive price, and produces extremely good results.
Image Quality: Great. Very good colour, with bright saturated colours (may be overly saturated for some, but this can be altered in camera). Detail is good, noise is low at the lower ISO settings, which the camera sticks to when left on AUTO ISO. Purple fringing is low, and barrel and pincushion distortion is also low with no obvious signs of vignetting – this is particularly commendable considering the 15x optical zoom lens. Macro performance is very good. (9/10)
Everything else (the camera as a whole): The camera has everything you could want from a compact ultra zoom camera, apart from high speed continuous shooting – in comparison with CMOS sensor models, the 1fps shooting is woefully slow – especially compared to cameras such as the Nikon Coolpix S9100 with 9.5fps shooting. Apart from no panorama settings. Full HD is the next level that this camera could take, and compared to this years models, it seems that this camera is lacking with “only” 720p video. It makes up for this by featuring stereo sound, and use of optical zoom while recording. (9/10)
Value for money: A large number of useful features, excellent zoom range, and at the lower price range of pocket zooms with lots of zoom. Until recently, the Samsung WB600 had the longest zoom available on a pocket zoom, and to get more optical zoom you’re most likely going to need to spend much more money. (9/10)
Conclusion: The Samsung WB600 when announced featured one of the longest optical zooms available, and whilst the extreme zoom worried some, the results however were very good. The image quality is very good, excellent in fact, and the camera has been one of my personal favourites for a long time, and has taken a great number of excellent photos. The Samsung WB600 is excellent value for money, feature packed, and has great image quality, and is often the camera I would choose when leaving the house, therefore I find it very easy to Highly Recommend this camera!
I think what the Samsung WB600 did, perhaps more than any other camera, is bring about one of the first budget ultra zoom cameras, after which everyone else is now following.
Samsung WB600 Rating: Recommended (9/10)
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What I Like (Pros):
– Excellent value for money
– Impressive zoom range
– Excellent image quality
– High quality video with stereo sound and optical zoom
– Good screen
– Easy to use
What I Don’t Like (Cons):
– No built in panorama mode
– Speaker positioned at the front
For a second opinion, have a look at ePHOTOzine’s review of the Samsung WB600.