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|Samsung WP10: Click on the thumbnail for the larger image.|
|Gary Wolstenholme takes a look at Samsung's waterproof WP10, which can resist water to a depth of three metres.|
Samsung's WP10 costs around £120 and is a water resistant camera capable of depths of up to three metres, which should make it ideal for use by the beach, swimming pool or even for a bit of snorkelling. It's the only water resistant compact Samsung currently make, but is priced so that it is not out of reach of those on a budget.
Samsung WP10: Features
Within the sealed waterproof body Samsung have provided a 5x optical zoom lens, covering a range equivalent to 35-175mm on a 35mm camera, and a 12 megapixel sensor for recording images. HD video can also be recorded at resolutions up to 720p and HDMI connectivity is included for seamless integration with your television set.
The usual array of detections found on modern digital cameras is included, such as Face Detection, Blink Detection, Scene Recognition in the Smart Auto Mode and Smile Detection, so that you can take a step back and leave the technical stuff to the camera. A variety of automatic scene programs are also available, including the Aqua mode, which optimises the camera for underwater shooting. Digital image stabilisation is provided to help iron out camera shake, which is a welcome addition, although a mechanical solution would be more effective.
Power is provided by a rechargeable Li-Ion battery. Samsung use a novel charging system which allows the camera to be powered from either the mains or via USB. Unfortunately the cable required to do this is a proprietary Samsung cable, so care will need to be taken not to lose it, otherwise you'll need to buy an exact replacement to enable charging of the camera. Luckily Samsung have been using this connection for a while now, so replacement cables shouldn't be too difficult to source.
Samsung WP10: Handling
Due the the waterproofing, the Samsung WP10 feels solidly put together and really quite rugged. In fact a don't remember ever handling a point and shoot at this price point that is so well put together, which may make the camera suitable for applications where it may be subjected to harsh environments and maybe the odd bump and scrape. As it doesn't cost too much it wouldn't be the end of the world if someone stood on it, drove a car over it or left it near demolition explosives. Being waterproof it could most definitely survive being dropped in a drink on a boozy night out, making this the ideal camera to give your kids for their first year of university life.
The controls are as simple and well laid out as they can be on such a camera, with common controls such as the shutter and zoom falling directly under finger and thumb. The 2.7inch screen is very bright, making it quite easy to see in bright sunlight or underwater. In fact it is so bright, I was convinced the camera was over exposing shots until I looked at them on my computer afterwards.
Samsung WP10: Performance
On dry land and in good lighting the Samsung WP10's responsiveness is typical for its price point, focusing in a reasonable amount of time and with a little noticeable shutter lag. The camera seems to insist on telling me what it's doing, rather than just doing it, which I found a little frustrating at times when the screen is black with a message saying 'capturing' or 'processing' displayed. Still, for its price point it isn't too bad. There are plenty of slower cameras out there for around the same price.
The metering system does a decent enough job in a wide range of conditions, only really being fooled by strongly backlit subjects. When the face detection system kicks in it effects focus and exposure, making both more accurate and the camera a little more responsive.
The WP10 renders colours so that they look very natural, if a little subdued in some cases. Skin tones are pleasantly reproduced and the level of contrast is about right.
ISO and noise performance
From the outset at ISO80 the quality of images produced by the WP10 isn't stunning, but will certainly suffice for most people's snapshot requirements. Edges lack some definition when examined up close on screen and I probably wouldn't want to print images from this camera much larger than 9x6inches. At ISO100 signs of noise are already starting to show, but the levels aren't significant until ISO200 where it can be seen clearly in the shadows.
Increasing the sensitivity only increases the amount of noise in images. By ISO800 the level of noise is becoming disturbing and I wouldn't recommend using this or any higher ISO unless you absolutely need to or unless the output is for small images to be shared on the web. By ISO3200 the images are almost unusable, with clear signs of noise decaying detail and reduced colour saturation. The speckles of noise at this high ISO are almost football sized in images and can be seen even in very small thumbnails. Samsung may have done well to restrict the highest ISO to ISO800 or IS01600 on this camera.
|Samsung WP10 Outdoor ISO speed test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.|
|Samsung WP10 Test chart ISO speed test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.|
Under incandescent lighting the WP10's auto white balance does a decent job of keeping any colour casts below disturbing levels. There is a slight amber cast left behind, but it isn't strong enough to cause major issues with general snaps. Setting the incandescent preset balances the colour perfectly under these conditions. Under the warm white fluorescent lights in our studio the auto white balance performs very well, leaving a little warm, but an overall pleasing effect. Unfortunately neither of the fluorescent presets provided were able to properly correct the colour cast, making the image look quite green.
Buffer read/write times
The Samsung WP10 certainly isn't the fastest camera I've used. The shot to shot delay is a whopping 5.2 seconds when using a Lexar Class 10 SDHC card as the camera displays messages telling you what it is doing to the image you've just taken. A delay such as this may prove frustrating if you wish to take another shot in a hurry.
The WP10 sports an internal 5x zoom lens which produces images of adequate quality across the frame. Images often lack contrast and chromatic aberrations can sometimes be seen in high contrast areas. I suppose this is the compromise you make for the price and the underwater design. Despite this it is still capable of producing a decent snapshot. Extra care needs to be taken at the telephoto end of the lens as the Digital Image Stabilisation system isn't all that effective in the telephoto range. Distortion is kept to a minimum with a little barrelling visible at the wide and of the zoom.
Samsung WP10: Verdict
Samsung's WP10 doesn't really profess to be a serious photographic tool, and so shouldn't really be judged as one. If the great build quality, waterproofing and simple, worry-free shooting are your bag, then this may be the ideal inexpensive camera for you. It can produce images that will make great postcard sized prints from your holidays, so long as it is used within its limitations.
Samsung WP10: Pros
Waterproof to three metres
Easy to use
Samsung WP10: Cons
Ineffective digital image stabilisation
Poor noise performance
Lens prone to colour fringing in high contrast situations
Samsung WP10: Specification
|What comes in the box||Charging cable, Mains adapter, Li-Ion rechargeable battery|
|Lens||5x internal zoom lens equivalent to 35-175mm on a 35mm camera|
|Max. Image size||4000x3000|
|LCD monitor size||2.7inch|
|Focusing system||Contrast detection|
|Focusing modes||Face detection, Smile detection, Blink Detection|
|Metering system||Multi-segment metering|
|Metering modes||Aqua, Beautyshot, Night, Frame Guide, Portrait, Children, Landscape, Close-up, Text, Sunset, Dawn, Back light, Firework, Beach & Snow|
|White-balance||Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent_H, Fluorescent_L, Tungsten, Custom|
|Exposure compensation||+/- 2EV|
|Shutter speed range||8 - 1/1000 seconds|
|Anti-shake mode||Digital image stabilisation|
|Movie mode||HD video at 1280x720 and 30fps|
|Media type||SD, SDHC|
|Power||Rechargeable BP70A 740mAh L-Ion battery|
|Size (wxdxl)||93.8 x 61 x 18.5mm|
|Weight (with battery)||121g|