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I take a lot of photographs, and although my image are rather more functional than art, I can rather modestly say I've had images published in the New York Times, in a German daily (the name escapes me) and in educational books and calendars.
I usually own two cameras; one is a heavier fairly good quality camera for fancy holidays (at the moment I have a £400 SLR digital Sony). The other is a comparatively cheap little "snapper" for more everyday events where you might just want a little camera in your pocket. Unless you have a fancy mobile (and I don't as I trash them), the quality on the camera phones aren't yet good enough.
Once my trusty little Panasonic had taken its very last squeeze earlier this summer (it had done sterling duty), I decided to downscale a bit and sunk £90 on a little Samsung to replace it. It's a camera that gets a hard life in my pocket and risks being left on a table in puddles of beer, so I didn't want to spend a fortune.
Camera Samsung WB 150
The Samsung WB 150 seemed to fit my requirements. I don't want huge images that blow the memory on my PC and take ages to download (how often does one need to produce an A1 sized photo quality image anyway?) so the 14.2 megapixels on offer here seemed ample.
The astonishing thing about the lens on the WB 150 is that as well as being wide angle (I take pictures of "things" and landscapes more than portraits so I like a wider angle lens) is it has an impressive sounding 18x zoom. I am naturally wary of such gimmicks as camera shake usually makes such extravagant functionality pointless, but I have to say that as long as the light is good then the anti shake mode does a good job on this camera.
The Samsung WB 150 therefore seems to offer a good spec for the money. While I'm happy with my camera as a "second string", it's a shame that the whole doesn't quite match the component parts.
As always with a new camera the trick of good photography is to do a bit of clicking around to find out what the camera does well and what it doesn't do so well. In a good light, the zoom on the Samsung WB150 is impressive, but in poorer lights you are much better taking a wide angle photo. I won't describe the Samsung as unusual in this; many compact cameras still have the same poor half light functionality, but this one seems worse than average. Too much lighting too can be a problem; the camera really doesn't like bright light and washes out the colours pretty easily.
More disconcertingly I find the focus a little patchy; on landscapes I can sometimes find little spots of indistinct focussing. I guess the auto focus isn't that clever.
I tend to use this camera on the smart setting; i.e. the automatic settings but this is definitely not the camera for the enthusiastic amateur as it doesn't allow much playing around with lighting and focus to create a different mood or image. My old Panasonic was much better for that. To be truthful it's not a problem for me as I use my fancier camera for such things, but occassionaly when carrying my little camera about only I find myself regretting not having better bespoke functionality
The battery is charged via a lead from the usb point rather than having a separate battery charger. I guess you may well be able to buy a separate battery charger and spare batteries (which are detachable) but with the product as supplied it makes carrying around spare batteries a bit more tricky.
The battery life is adequate, but I find that sometimes the charge has run down rather quickly and randomly. I've been places without electricity for a week (for example hiking in Madagascar, Borneo, Thailand and Morocco) so notwithstanding that it doesn't quite offer the best quality images; it's not a camera that would be reliable in more rural parts of the world.
The camera looks good (whereas my primary camera is a very plain ugly beast) so my beloved prefers to wander around with this one, and the casing has taken a few knocks without issue.
I do find the dial on the top which allows the limited camera options do move around in the case, so it's worth giving that a quick check before snapping away. The power button can take a couple of presses before it connects, but the image screen is perfectly good. Overall I don't have too many grumbles about the camera build quality.
Camera Summing Up
I like my camera for what I bought it for; a little camera to take a few inconsequential shots and it is certainly small and light enough to fit into any pocket. As a main camera however this little fellow just wouldn't quite hit the spot for me.
The key to buying anything is most likely your budget. I wanted a camera that was decently priced and did what I wanted it to do. Did the Samsung WB150 do that?
The WB150 is made up of metal, plastic and a matte finish which gives it a sleek look. I originally wanted a funkier colour like blue, but sadly this camera only comes in black, white and red (the red is a difficult one to find!). I was a bit sceptical about the protruding area for grip on the left of the camera, but actually it helps with handling of the camera, such that I feel confident holding the camera with one hand.
My old camera before this one was a 7mp camera. This camera is a whooping 14mp! I was considering the more common 16mp for a similar price range, but a lot of friends were criticising the increased memory space and upload speeds associated with higher resolutions, so I decided to downgrade in order to afford a better zoom (16mp cameras for £100 tend to have a max zoom of 10x). Unless you are planning to convert your images into large canvases, there is really no need for an incredibly high resolution. In my opinion, there really is no difference between my old 7mp and this 14mp. Images are clear and bright with vivid colours.
This camera has a generous 18x optical zoom! For those who don't know, optical zoom is far better than digital zoom. I wanted this camera for concert purposes (it was either this or opera glasses!). I used this camera in Wembley arena, seated almost right at the back and with this camera I could even see the face of each performer!
Video quality is very good considering the price of the camera. The sound quality is very good (for example, while at the concert I could hear the music clearly instead of muffled audio). The only problem I have with the video is when the camera becomes unfocused upon zooming in to higher magnifications. I often have to zoom out to focus first before I can fully zoom in.
One of the things I was wary about when looking for a camera was battery life. This camera uses a bog standard Li-ion battery. I can't say I have used the camera enough to give a true justification of how good the battery is, but, using my recent concert as a guide . . . The concert was about 2.5 hours long, the camera maybe lasted about 2 hours. In this time I did a mixture of filming, snapping pictures and holding my camera on stand-by waiting for a good picture to take (I would have filmed the entire time if I hadn't been told it wasn't allowed). Of pure filming I would say I did about 1 hour. In my opinion, this felt quite weak compared to my old Sony digital camera, but this camera has far better resolution and general capabilities so like most great things, something has to give. The battey is removeable, so if battery life is a problem for you, bring a spare!
The interface is quite sluggish. When you're not in a rush it's okay, but when you're trying to scroll through your pictures/videos quickly it can feel really slow.
Another problem is switching between modes. There is a slight delay so if you're hoping to capture something really quickly this isn't the camera for you.
From reading numerous reviews I decided on this camera as it was relatively cheap (£100) with great functions (the zoom!). Overall, it is a good camera for its price. There are problems with it, but if your budget is limited like mine, you can't go wrong with this camera!