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Samsung WP10 Waterproof Digital Camera Review

Even something as irresistible as water is no match for the Samsung WP10's iron will. Well at least to a depth of three metres!

| Samsung WP10 in Digital Cameras
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Samsung WP10: Click on the thumbnail for the larger image.
Samsung WP10 waterproof camera
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.

Samsung WP10 Key features: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Samsung WP10 front view Samsung WP10 Rear view
The sleek waterproof body houses an internal 5x optical zoom lens and a 12 megapixel sensor. A 2.7inch screen fills much of the rear and the controls are well laid out.
Samsung WP10 battery Samsung WP10 rubber seals
A 740mAh rechargeable Li-Ion battery provides power for the WP10. The battery door and connections are protected by rubberised seals which keep dust and water out.

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.

Samsung WP10 Performance: Click on the thumbnails for larger images
Samsung WP10 scenic view Samsung WP10 close up of flowers
On dry land the camera does a decent enough job. The metering coped reasonably well with this predominantly bright scene. The delicate colours of this flower have been reproduced accurately.
Samsung WP10 - benefit of waterproofing Samsung WP10 - underwater shot
The waterproofing allowed me to place the lens on the surface of the water to catch the reflection of this building in the fountain. Sometimes the WP10 can struggle to focus underwater. This shot took several attempts before I got a sharp one.

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 - noise test
Samsung WP10 - noise test ISO80
Samsung WP10 - noise test ISO100 Samsung WP10 - noise test ISO200 Samsung WP10 - noise test ISO400
ISO80 ISO100 ISO200 ISO400
Samsung WP10 - noise test ISO800 Samsung WP10 - noise test ISO1600 Samsung WP10 - noise test ISO3200  
ISO800 ISO1600 ISO3200  

Samsung WP10 Test chart ISO speed test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Samsung WP10 - noise test
Samsung WP10 - noise test ISO80
Samsung WP10 - noise test ISO100 Samsung WP10 - noise test ISO200 Samsung WP10 - noise test ISO400
ISO80 ISO100 ISO200 ISO400
Samsung WP10 - noise test ISO800 Samsung WP10 - noise test ISO1600 Samsung WP10 - noise test ISO3200  
ISO800 ISO1600 ISO3200  

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.

Samsung WP10 White-balance test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Samsung WP10 - white balance test - auto incandescent Samsung WP10 - white balance test - preset incandescent
Auto white-balance in incandescent lighting. Incandescent preset in incandescent lighting.
Samsung WP10 - white balance test - auto fluorescent Samsung WP10 - white balance test - preset fluorescent
Auto white-balance in fluorescent lighting. Fluorescent preset in fluorescent lighting.

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.

Lens performance
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 Lens quality: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Samsung WP10 - lens test - 35mm Samsung WP10 - lens test - 175mm
The 35mm equivalent wide angle isn't as wide as many new cameras sport, but is wide enough for some scenery. The 175mm telephoto is great for pulling in distant subjects although the digital image stabilisation doesn't help much.
Samsung WP10 - lens test - chromatic aberrations Samsung WP10 - lens test - care from splashes
A little chromatic aberration can be seen around the edges of this back lit memorial. Care needs to be taken to clean the front lens surface after using it near or under water as marks can cause flare and loss of contrast.

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
Rugged design
Easy to use

Samsung WP10: Cons
Ineffective digital image stabilisation
Poor noise performance
Lens prone to colour fringing in high contrast situations

FEATURES samsung WP10 - rating out of 10 - 6
HANDLING samsung WP10 - rating out of 10 - 9
PERFORMANCE samsung WP10 - rating out of 10 - 5
VALUE samsung WP10 - rating out of 10 - 7
OVERALL samsung WP10 - rating out of 10 - 7

Samsung WP10: Specification
Price £120.00
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
Resolution 12Mp
Max. Image size 4000x3000
Aspect ratio 4:3
LCD monitor size 2.7inch
Focusing system Contrast detection
Focusing modes Face detection, Smile detection, Blink Detection
File types JPEG
ISO sensitivity ISO80-3200
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
Interface USB, HDMI
Power Rechargeable BP70A 740mAh L-Ion battery
Size (wxdxl) 93.8 x 61 x 18.5mm
Weight (with battery) 121g

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Photographs taken using the Samsung Samsung WP10

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