Steve's Conclusion

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Steve's SnapShot
    Samsung WB250F 275 pixels.jpg
  • 14-megapixel CMOS image sensor
  • 18x optical zoom lens
  • 3.0-inch (460,000-dot) touch screen display with menus designed for touch selection
  • One-touch shutter activation mode on screen
  • Full HD (1080p) video recording  
  • Smart auto mode for beginners
  • Program, manual, aperture priority, and shutter priority modes for shooting with more advanced settings
  • Built-in help screens
  • Built-in Wi-Fi for sharing photos with social media Web sites or via e-mail
  • Pop-up flash unit
  • Several special effect features built into the camera's software
  • Rechargeable li-ion battery 

Pros
  • 18x optical zoom is a great option in a thin camera
  • Touch screen LCD is nice option for beginners
  • LCD screen is very bright and sharp
  • Lens fully retracts inside the camera, protecting the glass
  • Menu structure is smartly organized and is very easy to use
  • Pop-up flash unit is a nice feature in this price range
  • Built-in Wi-Fi is another nice feature in this price point
  • WB250F is a lot of fun to use
  • Several special effect features are available and can be added through in-camera editing
  • Mode dial makes it easy to select the settings you want to use
  • Comfortable to use with small right-hand grip
  • Nice looking camera, especially in all white
  • Quite a few options for adjusting the way the camera works
  • Provides a good value
Cons
  • Must charge battery inside the camera, because no separate battery charger included
  • Camera has some shutter lag problems
  • Start-up is a little slow
  • Image quality has some slight softness
  • Some images seem to almost be over-processed, giving them a slightly odd look
  • Pop-up flash unit isn't automatic and must be opened manually
  • High ISO settings have a bit of noise
  • 14MP of resolution is a bit lower than some other cameras released this year
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 3.6 seconds (with start-up image turned off)
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = about 0.5 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay without flash = 3.1 seconds between frames with minimum review time On, 3.1 seconds with review Off
  • Shot to shot delay with flash = 3.7 seconds between frames with minimum review time On, 3.7 seconds with review Off
  • High Continuous Mode = 6 frames in 1.3 seconds @ 14M
  • Low Continuous Mode = 6 frames in 2.3 seconds @ 14M
  • All tests were taken using a PNY Class 10, 8 GB micro SDHC memory card, Program Mode, Flash off, Review on, ISO Auto and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
Samsung's WB250F point-n-shoot camera is a lot of fun to use and provides a pretty good value. Even though this camera has some performance issues and there's a bit of image softness at large sizes, it still stacks up very nicely against other models in its price range. The WB250F is extremely easy to use, thanks to a sharp touch screen LCD and one of the smartest menu organizational structures that you're going to find on a digital camera. Throw in an easy-to-use built-in Wi-Fi feature, and the WB250F is a camera that's easy to like. If the image quality was just a little better, this easily would be one of the best point-and-shoot cameras on the market.
Pick This Up If...
You're looking for a really fun, easy-to-use camera that has unexpected features for its price point, and you can live with a little bit of image softness and slightly odd image processing. 
The Samsung WB250F is a camera that's a lot of fun to use and provides some very interesting advanced features, especially for a camera with an MSRP of $249.99 at launch. Few cameras around the desirable $200 price point can provide great features like a high-resolution touch-screen LCD and built-in Wi-Fi capabilities.

Throw in an 18x optical zoom lens, a popup flash unit, and smartly organized menus, all in a stylish looking solid-colored camera body that measures only about 1.25 inches at its thickest point, and there's a lot to like about the WB250F. 

At first glance it seems like this Samsung model is one of the best point-n-shoot cameras currently available. However there always seems to be a "but" in cases like this, and unfortunately the WB250F has a few issues that fit that billing.

The biggest drawback to this camera is centered on image quality. 

First, the autofocus isn't quite as sharp as I'd like it to be. The WB250F's photos consistently seem to have a slight bit of softness to them. This probably isn't something you're going to notice when viewing the photos on the camera's LCD screen -- even though it's a high-quality screen -- and you may not even see it when you view the photos at average sizes. However if you try to print the photos at large sizes, you're going to see the softness in the focus.

Second, photos shot with the WB250F seem to have a bit of over-processing to them. It's not a huge problem, but they just don't appear quite as natural as photos shot with other cameras. Part of the problem with image quality is that Samsung chose to place a pretty small 1/2.33-inch image sensor inside this camera. 

Additionally, the WB250F doesn't have quite the response times that I'd like to see. It has a bit of shutter lag in most shooting conditions, and the WB250F's startup is a little slower than I'd like to see. 

In this price range, it's pretty common to find cameras that have some problems with image quality and a few issues with performance speed, so it's no surprise to see a few problems like this with the WB250F. None of these problems are huge issues for this camera, but they will be noticeable from time to time, especially if your plan is to make large prints with the WB250F. 

Samsung primarily has developed the WB250F as a fun camera that you can use to create and share photos easily on social networks. From the built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, to the compatibility with smartphone apps to the easy-to-use touch-screen LCD to the stylish design, the WB250F is the kind of camera that looks to be a great option to use on a night out with friends.

The WB250F has some power to go with its style, though. With an 18x optical zoom lens, a mode dial, and plenty of advanced shooting modes, you won't be disappointed in the options you have for using this camera. You can shoot in a fully automatic mode, or you can select Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual modes. It's just a bit of a disappointment that the performance and image quality aren't a little better with this model.

The fun aspects of this camera are easy to see almost immediately upon pressing the power button. The touch screen LCD makes the WB250F very easy to use. You also can apply quite a few fun special effects to your images, working either while you take the photographs or after the fact using in-camera editing functions.

Touch screen LCDs are great for people who are just learning to use a digital camera for the first time. It's easy to get used to making menu selections through a touch screen, and some people will even appreciate the option of activating the shutter and recording an image by just touching the screen. Samsung included several help screens with this camera that give brief explanations of each feature to further make this camera easy to use.

The LCD that Samsung included with the WB250F has a high resolution, and Samsung designed most of the camera's menus with a touch screen in mind; which further enhances the experience for the photographer. The touch screen is very responsive and the icons and menu commands are displayed at a large enough size that you won't make touch mistakes very often, as can occur with some other touch screen LCDs from other camera makers. Samsung excels at creating touch screen cameras with intuitive menu structures, and the WB250F follows in that line very nicely.

If you'd rather use the WB250F's control buttons, this is an easy-to-use option, too. These buttons are a good size and the layout makes sense. There's even a Wi-Fi access button on the top panel to give you quick access to this feature. With the Wi-Fi feature, you can immediately send images to Facebook, send photos via e-mail, or you can control the camera with a smartphone app.

In addition to the flexibility the Wi-Fi connection offers, this camera's 18x optical zoom lens provides another kind of flexibility, allowing the WB250F to go from a camera that can shoot fun portrait shots to an ultra zoom camera that can capture nature photos over a long distance. The zoom doesn't have very many "stops" in the middle of the zoom range, which is a bit of a disappointment and may make it difficult for you to settle on the precise zoom setting you want to use. Samsung did include optical image stabilization in the WB250F, which is a necessary feature for a camera with a large zoom lens.

When the zoom lens is at the full telephoto setting, this camera measures almost 3 inches in thickness. However, when the WB250F is powered down, it is a pretty thin camera that should fit pretty comfortably in a pocket. This makes it easy to take the WB250F with you wherever you're going. And you aren't going to be embarrassed to take this camera out of your pocket in almost any situation. It's available in red, gunmetal gray, black, and white. I tested the all-white model, and its stylish design looked great. During my tests, I received more questions and compliments about this camera from random people than any I've tested in the past year or so, primarily because of its look.

If you're trying to shoot photos of friends in a dimly lit area at night, you'll find that the WB250F will perform pretty well. A popup flash unit gives the WB250F better low light results than what you'll find with other point-n-shoot cameras in this price range where the flash unit is built into the camera body. The image sensor included with this camera uses CMOS technology, which performs a bit better in low light situations than a CCD image sensor. The WB250F's low light performance isn't perfect, but it'll work well for photos you want to share on social networking sites.

It's helpful that Samsung chose to include multiple image resolution and aspect ratio options with this camera. When you know you're going to be uploading a particular photo through the camera's Wi-Fi feature to Facebook, for example, you may want to shoot at a smaller resolution than a photo you plan to print so the photo will upload more quickly. With a maximum resolution of 14.2 megapixels, the WB250F has plenty of resolution to easily create small prints, too.

Movie quality is good with the WB250F, and you can choose from a few different video resolutions, including full 1080p HD. The full 18x optical zoom is available when shooting movies, although it does move a bit more slowly than when shooting still images; likely to allow the AF system to keep up. There is no HDMI port with this camera, and uploading your full HD movies through the built-in Wi-Fi connection may take quite a while, so you'll probably want to use the USB port to download videos and photos at least part of the time.

If you do choose to use the Wi-Fi connection quite a bit, you're going to notice that the battery lifespan will be a bit below average. With minimal Wi-Fi usage, though, the battery life is more than adequate. This is important because Samsung chose not to include a separate battery charger with this camera, meaning you must charge the battery inside the camera, which can be a significant hassle if you're someone who likes to participate in long photography sessions.

Bottom Line - For full disclosure, I tend to really like Samsung digital cameras. They look good, they have intuitive menu structures, and they usually offer innovative features to beginners and intermediate photographers alike. The Samsung WB250F point-n-shoot camera follows along those lines. It's a good-looking camera that's a lot of fun to use. It includes a high-quality touch screen LCD that works very accurately, and the built-in Wi-Fi feature with the WB250F is among the easiest to use that you'll find in a digital camera that sits around the $200 price point. The 18x optical zoom lens is going to give photographers quite a bit of flexibility in terms of the types of images that they can shoot. The WB250F camera isn't perfect, as it has some image softness when you attempt to magnify images on the computer screen or make large prints. You also may notice some image quality issues where the photos almost appear to be a little over-processed. As long as you aren't looking to make extremely large prints with the WB250F, though, the image quality will be good enough for most beginning photographers, especially if you're primarily going to post photos on social networks like Facebook. The WB250F would be a great first camera for someone, especially if he or she is used to using the navigational structure of a smartphone, as many of this camera's touch screen functions work a lot like a smartphone. The WB250F offers good value and better-than-expected features versus other cameras in a similar price point. 

Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.

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