Low sensitivity images straight from the Samsung WB850F are punchy and vibrant. In its default settings, however, it is prone to over-saturating some colours. It also seems to struggle to reproduce the full tonal range of some red subjects, which can end up looking rather uniform in tone and sometimes a little too pink or cherry red.
On most occasions we found that the automatic white balance system did a good job during our test shoots, but we have one sequence of two shots where one has an inexplicable shift in colour.
Even at the highest sensitivity setting (ISO 3200), noise isn't a major issue in images from the Samsung WB850F, but the impact of its removal is noticeable at 100 per cent on the screen (actual pixels). At this magnification, ISO 3200 images have a stippled texture and some details are smudged. As usual, these issues are most noticeable in shadow areas.
However, the images make acceptable prints provided that they are kept below around A4 (around US letter) size. Images taken in the range ISO 100-800, though, can be used to make decent A3 (16.5 x 11.7-inch) prints.
The Panasonic TZ30 also has a slight edge at higher sensitivity settings, but the shadows don't bear close scrutiny in images from both cameras at ISO 3200.
We also found that the Samsung WB850F's GPS often takes longer to get a satellite signal than the Panasonic TZ30's, and this eats into the battery life – we only got 169 images in a short period of time from one charge when it was on most of the time.
The Wi-Fi connectivity, however, works well, and we were able to email images and upload them to Facebook without any fuss once we had connected to local Wi-Fi hotspot.
On the whole the autofocus system works well, but it starts to struggle when subjects get quite close. Subjects closer than 80cm require the macro focusing setting, and annoyingly this is set via the Fn menu.