Samsung WB750 £259.95
29th Jun 2012 | 11:31
Big value super zoom that's loaded with features
The Samsung WB750 is a pocket-friendly superzoom that sits in the Korean manufacturer's Performance range of compact cameras. It's not the flagship model in the range - that honour goes to the Samsung WB850F with built-in Wi-Fi and GPS - but the WB750 does offer a range of high-end features at a price that will give it wide appeal.
Like many of 2012's big zoom compacts, the WB750 shares many features with the outgoing model it replaces.
As with last year's Samsung WB700, the WB750's Schneider lens with 18x optical zoom offers a 35mm equivalent reach of 24-432mm. This versatile, broad span makes it a good choice for travel photography, enabling you to shoot everything from wide landscapes to wild animal portraits.
The Samsung WB750 also continues to offer Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual exposure modes, as well as a range of specific scene modes, Smart Auto and Dual IS (which combines optical image stabilisation with the ISO-increasing digital type).
Sensor: 14.6MP (12.5MP effective) 1/2.3-inch BSI CMOS
Lens: Schneider 4-72mm f/3.2-5.8 (24-432mm equivalent)
Video resolution: Full HD 1920 x 1080p at 30fps
ISO range: ISO 100 - 3200
Dimensions: 105.3mm x 59.4mm x 24.9mm, 193.4g (without battery/memory card)
Where the two cameras differ considerably is in the choice of image sensor. The WB700's sensor was based around CCD technology, offering a resolution of around 14.2 effective megapixels.
The Samsung WB750 introduces a new BSI (Back Side Illuminated) CMOS sensor to Samsung's compact camera range - albeit one that offers an effective resolution of 'only' 12.5MP. The sensitivity range runs from ISO 100 to ISO 3200.
Although in terms of headline figures this might seem to be a step backwards from the WB700, it actually represents a considerable leap forwards in terms of potential performance - particularly in terms of low light photography and noise reduction.
Further developments on the Samsung WB750's specs sheet include Full HD 1080p video (compared to 720p on the WB700), 3D, HDR and panorama functions and a 3-inch screen that's more than double the resolution.
Armed with a responsive autofocus system and capable of shooting at a rapid 10fps for up to eight photos, the Samsung WB750 can help you get shots in situations where other big zoom compact cameras would struggle.
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In fact, in Pre-capture drive mode, the camera can record eight photos between the moment the shutter is pressed halfway to the point when it's fully depressed, helping to reduce the chances of 'missing the moment'.
Even shooting HD video footage doesn't stop you taking pictures - 10MP JPEGs can be captured while recording 1080p movies.
With a recommended retail priced of £260 in the UK and $280 in the US, the Samsung WB750 is in the same sort of price bracket as the Canon IXUS 240 HS, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX80 and Ricoh CX6, and is cheaper than more expensive superzooms such as the Panasonic TZ30.
Build quality and handling
The Samsung WB750 manages to pack its whopping 24-432mm lens into a body measuring a fairly slim 105.3 x 59.4 x 24.9mm (4.15 x 2.34 x 0.98 inches). Despite the camera weighing under 200g (0.42lbs), it feels solid and robust.
To get sharp images using a big lens requires firm support in addition to effective image stabilisation. The Samsung WB750's memory card and battery chamber acts as a raised grip on the front of the body, with a textured surface providing additional purchase.
The small flash cuts into the top of the grip slightly, and it's easy to obscure with a stray finger if you're not careful. Around the back, a smaller dimpled area acts as a thumb rest.
There's a substantial range of on-body controls on the back of the camera too, arranged in the typical layout down the right-hand side of the screen. A movie direct record button is conveniently placed on the top-right corner, next to the thumb rest, while a control pad and scroll wheel surround give quick access to flash, focus, drive and display settings.
Despite the Samsung WB750 offering a range of functions designed to appeal to more advanced photographers, there's no button for exposure compensation. Instead, that feature is tucked away in the menu system.
However, in a smart move, a Function (Fn) button on the bottom-right of the camera gives quick access to a menu of key shooting parameters, including exposure compensation. The overlay that appears when the Fn button is tapped opens with the last adjusted control parameter highlighted, giving you rapid access to a regularly used function without having to delve into the main menu.
The top of the Samsung WB750 is dominated by the mode dial. This features eight different options, each of which is displayed and explained on the rear screen as you twist the dial. The latter is a welcome feature, because the settings are likely to be quite baffling for a beginner.
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Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual are grouped together under a single 'ASM' option - you use the LCD monitor to decide which of these modes you want to use.
Program mode gets its own distinct P slot, as do the green Smart Auto and Scene mode (SCN) settings. Select the latter and you again use the rear screen to scroll through 12 big, attractive icons that represent each of the scene mode options. This process can slow things down a little though, particularly as the various scene modes form rather a ragtag bunch.
As you'd expect, there are typical options for landscape, night photography, beach and snow and backlit scenes. New HDR and 3D modes join the lineup too.
But then there's the niche Text mode for photographing documents, a Sunset mode and a separate Dawn mode, plus Zooming Shot (which applies a rather abrupt zoom burst effect around a sharp circle in the centre of the frame).
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Magic Frame can be used to add some (pretty tacky) surrounds to an image, while Beauty Shot automatically touches up spots and blemishes when shooting a portrait.
Rather than featuring as part of the scene mode lineup, the Samsung WB750's Live Panorama function gets a dedicated spot on the mode dial. Similar to Sony's Sweep Panorama, this takes a Live, Action or 3D panorama as the camera is moved across the scene with the shutter release held down. For the most part it does a good job, although we experienced some banding in low light scenes.
The final slots on the mode dial are taken up by the Dual IS option, a dedicated movie mode (perhaps overkill, given the one-touch recording button) and Creative Movie Maker. This latter mode enables you to select a combination of stills and video, then apply a theme to them in order to create a slideshow, complete with background music. The end results aren't exactly stylish.
Overall, the Samsung WB750 puts in a good performance. We clocked the lens taking approximately 3.5-4 seconds to pass through the zoom range from full wide setting to full telephoto, which is reasonable rather than remarkable. It also felt a little laggy, lacking the responsive snap of, say, the Canon Powershot SX260 HS's big zoom.
Where the Samsung WB750 does put in a decent performance against the stopwatch is in shutter response and focusing. Half-press the shutter release and it takes little time for the AF point to be highlighted in green, indicating a focus lock.
It takes around two seconds for the Samsung WB750 to pass a full-res JPEG to the memory card, and less than 2.5 seconds for the camera to go from sleep to first shot. Again, pretty quick - although there is a slightly niggling delay while the camera processes the shot with the screen blacked out.
Pictures dished up by the Samsung WB750 are generally pleasing. At ISO 100 or ISO 200, pictures are clean and colourful. Noise does start creeping in when sensitivity receives a moderate bump to ISO 400, though, and by ISO 800 edges and detail are starting to look choppy, with colour saturation weakening. Picture quality gets progressively worse at ISO 1600 and falls off a cliff by ISO 3200.
Exposure-wise, the Samsung WB750 generally performs well. Faced with high contrast scenes in bright sunshine, the metering system favours opening up the shadows at the expense of highlight detail. Some underexposure often yields a better result. The reverse is true for pictures taken in low light.
HD video quality from the camera is a slightly mixed bag too. The Samsung WB750 shoots 1080p movies at 30 frames per second, with the full range of the optical zoom and autofocus available during filming.
The stereo microphones do pick up the noise of the motor at times, and picture quality, although fairly detailed, is let down by brighter areas being overexposed. Moving between scenes illuminated by different light sources leads to some obvious stepping in colour balance and exposure as the camera tries to compensate.
Overall, though, the pictures and videos produced by the camera are good. It's in other areas of performance that the Samsung WB750 is left a little wanting - such as flash charging time (sluggish, at approximately four seconds) and underwhelming battery life.
Some of the Samsung WB750's Smart Filter options are excellent, such as Retro and Vignette. Bizarrely, the Zooming Shot effect (shown here) gets its own dedicated scene mode. The effect is OK, but the transition from the central unfiltered area to the filtered one is too harsh for us.
Using Program mode, Auto White Balance and default saturation/contrast, the results here are just a little flat straight out of the camera. There's a hint of purple fringing around some of the high-contrast edges, but you have to go looking for it.
In Macro focus mode, the Samsung WB750 can get to within 5cm of a subject at the widest zoom setting. At maximum telephoto, this drops to 1.8 metres.
The Samsung WB750's generous zoom provides a wide range of framing options, while the image stabilisation compensates well for camera shake when using the zoom at telephoto settings. Distortion and aberrations are well controlled, too.
The flash has provided a fairly subtle amount of fill-in here. Its position close to the zoom rocker switch means you need to be wary of obscuring it with a wayward finger.
Noise is clearly visible in the sky in this ISO 800 shot - and the effects of noise reduction evident in the general lack of bite. Weaker colour saturation is also another trade-off of using higher sensitivity settings on the Samsung WB750.
Samsung WB750 at 4mm (24mm equivalent)
Samsung WB750 at 72mm (432mm equivalent)
Sensitivity and noise
Full ISO 100 image, see the cropped (100%) versions below.
Samsung cameras typically offer excellent value, with bags of features for the price. The Samsung WB750 doesn't disappoint in this respect, with Samsung bringing it more in line with similarly specced superzooms from rival manufacturers.
Live Panorama, HDR and Full HD video (plus a high speed video shooting mode) are welcome new additions to a camera that was already fully featured.
Serious picture-taking functions (Aperture Priority, extensive bracketing options, fast drive modes) are balanced with entertaining additions such as the strong set of digital filters and high speed video capture. This is a well-rounded camera with wide appeal.
The shortish battery life is irksome, particularly since the battery has to be recharged in-camera via USB. It's certainly worth considering buying a second battery if you plan on taking this camera travelling.
The breadth of exposure modes and menu options means that the Samsung WB750 is a camera that both beginners and more advanced users can tailor to their needs. Hardcore travel photographers might bemoan the lack of GPS, but in almost all other respects it gives more expensive big zoom compacts such as the Panasonic TZ30 a run for their money.
Ultimately, if built-in GPS doesn't top your list of requirements, and you're prepared to put up with the slightly disappointing high ISO performance, then, at the current street price of £160/$170, the Samsung WB750 represents a bit of a bargain.