If there's ever been a more feature-laden camera than the Samsung WB850F, it's eluded our memory. Its headliners are a 21x optical zoom and 1080p video, but that's just the start
Samsung WB850F review – features
Samsung's WB850F is about the same price, size and weight as the superb Sony HX20V, but attempts to trump our favourite all-rounder with the promise of Wi-Fi transfer, GPS tagging, mapping and augmented reality viewing, smartphone remote control and a bucket of photo and video effects.
Samsung WB850F – image quality
If Sony's RX100 hadn't set the bar so high, the Samsung's picture quality, image stabilisation and video capture would be hard to criticise. In fact, its stills are excellent, aided by the image stabilisation when the zoom is stretched out to its furthest reaches. While the Sony's stabilisation converts shakes and wobbles into tightly controlled but very subtle motion, the Samsung takes a firm grip and just about freezes the image. This is ideal for stills but it gets twitchy in video mode when you're likely to be moving the camera deliberately.
Samsung WB850F – video
Video footage is good but not exceptional. The Full HD claim is valid but with a maximum frame rate of 30fps, it's not capable of the silky smooth TV-style footage of its Sony nemesis, and also loses out in terms of detail and colour balance.
Samsung WB850F – Wi-Fi
The WB850F's Wi-Fi transfer sounds like a good idea, and if you could just copy selected images from the camera onto your computer, it would be. Unfortunately to do anything at all with the Wi-Fi features is an infuriatingly slow process, involving endless alpha-numeric text entry with the controls on the back of the camera. It's not possible to just drag and drop selected images wirelessly. Instead you can back up all the latest photos to a PC (not to a Mac), but that itself requires a photo management app to be installed on your PC. Direct uploading to social networks is no better, and even emailing pictures restricts you to low-res images. Let's move on.
Samsung WB850F – GPS
The basic GPS tagging works fine. However, the additional GPS features are, once again, very poorly realised. Map data needs to be present on the memory card you're using, and even then the spartan selection of points of interest (POI) is at least five years out of date, which makes the augmented reality feature close to useless.
Samsung WB850F – Android app
Remote control via an Android smartphone is another nice idea that doesn't quite deliver. Download the Remote Viewfinder app and you can control the shutter, timer and zoom from a phone. However, the phone and camera must be connected to the same network, and if you need to control the camera remotely you'll probably have them at some distance from one another. In our testing one or the other proved quite likely to drop the connection.
Samsung WB850F – verdict
So, if you were planning on buying the WB850F based on these special features, think again. If you're happy to disregard these extras you'll still find a great camera that's well built, takes great pictures and has a very handy zoom.
Samsung WB850F review
Buy it for the features and you'll be disappointed. Ignore them, and the WB850F is a capable big-zoom compact