Samsung WB800F Preview
by Mike Tomkins
The Samsung WB800F is a long-zoom camera that follows on from last year's WB850F, and it shares a passing resemblance to that model, although its body has been redesigned from the ground up. Aimed at photographers who want a relatively compact camera that's well-suited to travel, but which doesn't sacrifice on zoom range, the WB800F retains its predecessor's Wi-Fi wireless networking connectivity, but looks to have dropped the built-in GPS receiver.
Although its body has been completely rearranged, the Samsung WB800F has much the same imaging pipeline as did its predecessor. There's a backside-illuminated, 16.3 megapixel CMOS image sensor, paired to a 21x optical zoom lens. ISO sensitivity ranges from 100 to 3,200 equivalents. The lens would appear to be the exact same unit used in the earlier camera, but has been stripped of its Schneider-Kreuznach branding, and now bears Samsung's own brand instead. The lens provides a generous 35mm-equivalent zoom range from a healthy 23mm wide angle to a powerful 483mm telephoto. Maximum aperture starts off at a reasonably bright f/2.8, and falls to f/5.9 by the tele position. Optical image stabilization is included in the design.
Perhaps the most obvious addition since last year's model is the Samsung WB800F's new display. Last year's 3.0-inch AMOLED panel is replaced by a new 3.0-inch standard LCD monitor, and it now includes a touch-sensitive overlay. That allows it to be used as an input device, with a tap of a finger making settings changes, setting the point of focus, and so on. If you prefer physical controls, you can of course continue to use the WB800F's four-way controller with central OK button, which is accompanied by 11 other buttons, dials, and levers spread across the rear and top panels. Among these is a Direct Link button that makes light work of setting up Wi-Fi connections to share your images. There's also a mode dial that provides access to program, priority, and manual exposure modes among others. (As in its predecessor, the priority and manual modes together share a single "ASM" position on the dial.)
The WB800F includes the latest iteration of Samsung's Smart Camera system. Now dubbed Smart Camera 2.0, the system allows for quick one-click sharing of images with a smartphone. It also lets you remotely control the camera using a free Samsung Smart Camera app, available on either Android or iOS operating systems. This provides not only for remote shutter release, but also for remote viewfinder, so you can confirm everybody's pose is OK before tripping the shutter. The WB800F also allows for movie capture, with videos saved using MPEG-4 AVC / H.264 compression. Resolutions from Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) down to QVGA (320 x 240 pixels) are available, all with a fixed rate of 30 frames per second.
The Samsung WB800F stores images and movies on Secure Digital cards, including the newer SDHC and SDXC types. Connectivity includes standard-def composite video output, high-def HDMI 1.3 output, and USB 2.0 High Speed data. Power comes from a proprietary SLB-10A lithium-ion rechargeable battery. No information on battery life was available at press time.
The Samsung WB800F ships in the first quarter of 2013, with pricing set at around US$300. Three body colors are to be available: white, cobalt black and red.