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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Samsung WB650 (HZ35w) Camera Review

It’s been a long time since I had written a review and a post in my blog since I was held up with some work. So here I come again, this time around I will discuss about a camera that I bought on November 2010. As usual I shall start up with what my requirement was and how I short-listed my Photo Machine.

This isn’t a complete review because I felt am too noob to do an in-depth review (as not is incase of mobile) instead I’ll point to the sites that do a better review and share how I short listed my machine together with its Pros and Cons that I could find in these 3 months of time.


It was my long time dream to buy a machine to do some serious photography with a limited budget. I wanted a machine that will give full control plus offered good features on a descent budget. So I decided on some key requirements such as:

  • *Good image quality and Mega-pixel count wasn’t an issue for me.
  • *Full manual control so that i can learn photography.
  • *Around 10x zoom.
  • *With Li-Ion battery.
  • *Wide-angle lens.
  • *Budget around 14-15K this is a bit high but on little research I found that getting all these features on one package would be around 14-20K.

So when I Googled for these features the first direct hit went to It’s a superb site with professional offering in and out detailed review of the device. In that site I found a group test of Travel Zoom Cameras that were satisfying all my requirements.

The Review and My selection:

Here is the review of all these devices:
Compact Super Zoom Camera Group Test.
The above link will give you all accessories details and full features each of the cameras.
Now I would like to tell you all something. If you carefully read those reviews its very clear that every camera has got its own pros and cons. The conclusion would point out on a Winner but however it does not mean that other cameras are not up to the mark. So I clearly went through each of the cameras review and compared as to what each of these cameras had against each other. So now there were the following cameras that satisfied my requirements.
Panasonic TZ8(ZS5 in US), Casio FH100, Sony H55, Nikon S8000, Samsung WB650(HZ35W in US) and canon Sx210IS.

But among these only Panasonic TZ8, Sony H55 and Samsung WB650/WB600 were within my reach, satisfying my requirements and was available.

And Sony H55 didn’t have full manual control so I had to skip Sony too and Casio didn’t have any market in India.

So now am left with Panasonic Tz8 and Samsung WB650/600 both of them cost the same. Now according to the review Samsung is the Gold award winner but that is not the only reasons that I selected it but for these:

  • *15x Zoom: While Panasonic offered only 10x, this had 15x zoom which is good to have.
  • *VGA Resolution AMOLED:Since I had already missed an AMOLED (check this to know about that), this time around I wanted to own one. While others offered LCD, Samsung offered High resolution(VGA) AMOLED which offers very bright, vivid and contrasting images. And also it saves a lot of your battery power and offers better viewing angles in direct sunlight than the TFT LCD, which is crucial for me.
  • *GPS:This is another good to have feature that’s not available in the Panasonic Tz8.

I always wanted to own a Leica lens (Panasonic Cameras have them) but looking at the features WB650 had, again with Tz8 for the same prize and the Gold Award supporting the cause; I zeroed on to WB650.

I hope this small write up would help you shortlist the right device for the right price.

Initially I did have confusion between WB650 and WB600 but settled down with WB650 for its AMOLED :).

FYI WB650 was selling for RS.16500 and WB600 for Rs.13000. The main Difference is that WB600 doesn’t have an AMOLED Screen and the GPS.

My Experience:

This is what states about the cons of this device:
  • *Slow lens @ the long end of the zoom i.e. when you zoom crosses 10x it becomes a bit slower.
  • *Hesitant focus in low light
  • *Poor GPS implementation.

In fact all of them are true. For the GPS part there is a work around which you can check out in the blog post here. And here are some of them, which I experienced.

  • *Certain color like light pink/red and orange are over exposed/saturated.
  • *While zooming in the video mode the zoom noise is present and is irritating. As a work around, Samsung has given an option to mute sound while zooming alone.
  • *Flash Power isn’t all that good and its range is comparatively less with all other models.
  • *Poor image quality in low light.
  • *Smart Auto is not smart enough. Other dedicated modes work better.
Now on the Positive side here are some of its advantages:

  • *Overall Very good image quality.
  • *Offers full manual control (A.S.M) and Program mode.
  • *Good number of preset modes like: Portrait, beauty, landscape, Close up, Text, Sunset, Dawn, Backlight, fireworks etc.
  • *Good Video quality (720p).
  • *Very good zoom performance.
  • *Good battery life
  • *Good GPS performance (On a clear sky it just takes 3-5 seconds to get a satellite lock)
  • *Have a number of in-house editing options such as brightness, contrast, saturation, filters and more...
  • *The camera has 128MB memory housing Intelli studio software, which is very good at offering tasks such as image editing, image synchronization and a smart album. All you have to do is just plug in your camera in the USB and Intelli studio starts automatically on your PC from your camera (you also have the option to install it on the PC). Just give in the path where the images have to be stored and Intelli studio transfers the images and synchronizes the images from camera to PC. This greatly reduces the pain of copying and pasting the images.
  • *USB charging. This ensures that your camera charges every time you plug into your PC so that your camera never is short of power.*In house Map view, but the details up to street level are available only for select metropolitan cities for India. Has support form many countries.

And finally here are the images that I had taken using this camera for you perusal.
And here you can find all of my best photos taken using this camera with Creative Commons License.

Battery Life:

On a heavy usage such as Macro focusing which involves heavy movement of the lens in and out, changing modes,Some GPS locks and some in-house editing; it gave me 213 shots( Samsung states 220 shots without flash). If you ask me this is pretty good and it only increases if you maintain your battery well. Check this to know how to maintain Li-ion batteries.


Samsung WB650 with a Schneider-kreuznach lens is a very good camera covering all-important features and I felt it’s a good value for money. On the negative side the camera is very poor on low light conditions and does not focus in low light conditions. So overall I felt it’s a good package.

Once again, Samsung wb650 had all the important features that I wanted hence I grabbed it baring the low light photography, which anyway I am not going to do it. So if you have my requirements then you can very well go ahead with WB650. If you feel its a bit costly then you can go for WB600, which sells for 13K barring AMOLED and GPS.

And if not for WB650/WB600 I would have definitely bought either of these following camera in the order:

Panasonic TZ8
Sony H55
Nikon CoolPix S8000
Canon Power shot SX210 IS
Fujifilm FinePix F80 EXR
Fujifilm FinePix JZ500

All of these cameras are worth having a look at.

So if you are looking to buy a camera, dont forget to check these two websites:

Have Fun!

The comments section is always open for discussions.
PS: All the cameras that i had mentioned above fall in the price range of 15k to 20k as of Novemeber 2010.