Samsung WB850F Hands-on Preview

If you’ve been following along, the last few cameras I’ve looked at have all been rugged cameras, which might not be to everyone’s liking. Yes these cameras can survive most things other cameras would cringe at, but in terms of image quality, they aren’t really built to be at the top of the food chain. They are built for one specific purpose and that’s to be tough enough to withstand a variety of elements. If you want something with better image quality, you should look to other models.

One such camera is the Samsung WB850F. This is a compact long-zoom camera which itself is sub-class of point-and-shoot cameras. Like rugged cameras, these cameras are also built for a specific feature, the ability to zoom really close to a subject without really being that close to it. The last camera I looked at that would be very comparable to the Samsung WB850F would be the FujiFilm FinePix F770EXR which had a 20x optical zoom; the WB850F is a 21x optical zoom. In my past experience with cameras of this nature, the compact size and ability to zoom in at such distances is simply mind blowing and amazing. With a DSLR, you’d normally have to buy an expensive telephoto lens to get this ability so it’s amazing to me they are able to shrink it down to these sizes and at a really affordable price too.

Like most high end compact cameras, Samsung also makes use of a branded lens manufacturer, in this case Schneider Kreucnach and their Varioplan Zoom lens. It’s about 23-483mm (35mm equivalent) f/2.8-5.9 lens which is a bit faster of a lens than what was on the F770EXR. We’ll go more into the specs in our final review but for now, let’s take a look at the body and build of the WB850F.

Body & Design

The Samsung WB850F is not a lightweight camera and neither was the FujiFilm F770EXR. They aren’t terribly heavy, but they have a good amount of weight to them which is most likely attributed to the lens. Though it is a bit heavy, it feels very good in your hands. I’m not entirely sure what kind of materials are used for the body, but feels like a mixture of mostly metal parts and some plastic. It is a very tight package though and feels very solid with very good build quality from my initial inspection. Overall, the dimensions are very similar to the FujiFilm F770EXR and both are quite easy to handle. Let’s move on to what you’ll find on the exterior of the camera.

The front of the WB850F is pretty basic and not too fancy. It’s a very clean design that keeps things classy. On the left you’ll see that the camera has a pretty decently sized hand grip that has a layer of textured rubber to it for grip. It’s a nice texture and looks a bit like lather grain. Right next to the hand grip near the top and to the left of the lens is the AF-assist light. It’s places high enough where my fingers would not block it. Next up is the lens. It is surrounded by a rather large metallic rim that is heavily textured. When I first go the camera, I thought maybe this was some kind of control ring like I’ve seen on some newer cameras, but this wasn’t the case with the WB850F. This ring is purely decorative and doesn’t do anything. It doesn’t even move. If anything. it’s mainly there just to protect the lens when retracted. The lens as I said above is a Schneider Kreuznach unit which is displayed proudly right on the lens. The front of the camera doesn’t have anything else on it save for a few logos highlighting its more attractive features – Full HD, Wi-Fi, and 21x optical zoom.

Rotating the camera clockwise to the side, you won’t find much of anything here except for what appears to be a speaker hole. There’s also printed text on the side that reads “16.2 MEGA PIXELS BSI CMOS.”

Moving to the back of the camera, you’ll find a familiar layout that isn’t too different from almost every other point-and-shoot camera. This again like I’ve said it before is where you’ll spend most of your time using the camera so it’s absolutely crucial that it’s very easy to use and intuitive enough where you don’t need to think too much to use it. First up is the screen which is gorgeous on the WB850F. Since it is a Samsung, I wouldn’t expect anything less than a 3.0″ AMOLED screen with a resolution of 921k. I don’t usually talk about the screen in my hands-on previews, but I had to turn this on to check it out and wow, am I impressed. It is one of the clearest and brightest screens I have ever seen on all the cameras I’ve used. It’s very impressive, but I’ll talk more about it later.

To the right of the screen, you’ll find an assortment of buttons and dials.In this case, it has more than the FujiFilm F770EXR did which means more functions you can get too without having to fiddle with the menus. For the most part, its a familiar layout that I’ve seen with other cameras but with a few new ones due to the faeture set of the WB850F. There is a 4 way control dial that controls DISP, Timer, and 2 buttons for GPS related features. One is to set a live landmark while the other is to change the compass options. Surrounding these buttons is a dial used to quickly scroll through options. I’ll say I usually like cameras more when they have one of these instead of just a regular 4-way directional pad. Below the dial is a button for playback and the file delete button. Above the dial is the menu button and a Fn button which depending on what mode you are in, can adjust a ton of different settings. It’s similar to the Q.Menu on the Lumix cameras. Now above the 2 buttons is something I have not seen before on regular point-and-shoots and its a Drive Speed toggle. What this switch does lets you change the different ways the shutter can be released such as a single shot, bracketed shots, or in burst mode. It’s a nice and quick way of adjusting this feature. In the middle of the the Drive Speed toggle you’ll find a dedicated movie record button.

Rotating the camera clockwise again to the other side of the camera, you’ll find a comfortable rubberizedhand grip. Here you’ll also find the door to the HDMI and USB port which is what you also use to charge the camera with. Beneath that is the eyelet hole for the wrist strap. Don’t mind the sticker in the photos as that does come off with ease. I just left it on there since this camera needs to be returned.

If you take a look at the top of the camera, you’ll see that it’s fairly minimalistic up there. It has a very flat look to it where most of the little buttons and dials sit flush with the top plate. On the left, you’ll notice that it utilizes a popup flash unit which you engage with the little flash switch. The flash itself when it pops up is actually very solid looking and flimsy feeling as the FujiFilm F770EXR. A bit to the right of the flash switch, you’ll find the power button. It sits very flush with the top plate which will keep you from accidentally turning it on. When it is on, the ring around the button will glow a very bright blue. Just above and to the right of the power button is the zoom ring which surrounds the shutter release button. For most point-and-shoots, I like this layout better as it makes it easier to zoom and shoot with just 1 finger. Below this you’ll find the mode selection dial. Again, I like when cameras have this dial as it makes it much easier to select a mode instead of thumbing through the menu system. Last but not least, the only other thing you’ll notice up here are the stereo mic holes.

Moving to the bottom of the camera, you’ll find the door for the battery and SD card. It’s a single lock mechanism but seems reliable enough where it won’t pop open on it’s own. To the right of the door is the tripod mount hole which isn’t quite centered with the camera nor is it centered with the lens axis. I find that a little bit odd as most of the time, it’s centered with either one or the other.

Final Thoughts

I really like what Samsung did here with the WB850F. It’s a really nice sized camera that is comfortable to hold and handle. Again like with the FujiFilm F770EXR, it can be pocketable, but it won’t be very comfortable unless you have some really big pockets. Build wise, it does feel of a higher grade than the F770EXR did and doesn’t have that soft-touch rubber coating on it which I tend to not really be too fond of.

Button placement is excellent and I really like the grip Samsung built into it which makes holding it very easy and secure. The design is very clean and nothing looks out of place on the camera. Besides the 21x zoom lens, the other really noticeable feature is the gorgeous 3.0″ AMOLED screen that will surely wow anyone who sees it. In fact, I’d probably go as far as saying it is the best screen I’ve seen on any of the point-and-shoots I’ve looked at as well as some of the higher end cameras I’ve looked at.

I will say I’m very impressed with what I see so far and hopefully, the image quality and usage will be as impressive.

Shop Links

Samsung WB850F – Samsung WB850F 16 MP Smart Long Zoom Digital Camera

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Samuel Huang is an avid gamer and all around tech geek. When not glued to his computer or iPhone, he can be seen pwning n00bs on PSN nightly. On occasion, he has the crazy dream of owning a vintage JDM Nissan Skyline Hakosuka GT-R or a Datsun 240Z.