Samsung seems to be the only camera manufacturer really pushing forward with Wi-Fi in its cameras. It's launched a handful of wireless-enabled models over the past couple years, but they've been mysteriously hard to come by, so I haven't been able to review one. That changes with the SH100.
The camera has built-in 802.11n wireless that can be used to connect to your Wi-Fi network for automatic backups or viewing on DLNA-equipped devices; connect to other Samsung Wi-Fi cameras for sharing; connect to hot spots including those provided by Boing (an account comes with the SH100) or wirelessly tether to a smartphone; and connect to an Android 2.2-powered Galaxy S smartphone, 7-inch Galaxy Tab, or iPhone 4 with iOS 4.3.
That last option can be used to upload content to sharing sites, but it will also allow you to control the camera remotely. Your display turns into a viewfinder and you can move the camera's zoom lens as well as hit the shutter release. It'll also use the phone's GPS receiver to geotag your shots. (Samsung plans to extend these features to other non-Samsung Android smartphones as well).
Outside of the wireless features, the camera is just a nice ultracompact. It's using a 14-megapixel CCD (1/2.3-inch type), a 26mm-equivalent wide-angle lens with a 5x optical zoom, and a 3-inch touch-screen LCD, and shooting modes are automatic, meaning there's no full control over aperture and shutter speed. In fact, using it is a lot like using a smartphone camera due to an abundance of filters and simple editing tools. Oddly, given the extensive shooting features, Samsung used digital image stabilization—not optical or mechanical—which is its biggest feature shortcoming.
Photo quality from the SH100 is good up to and including ISO 400. Like most sub-$200 point-and-shoots, it's not a camera you'd want to use in low-light conditions or indoors without a flash. The photos get spectacularly worse above ISO 400, picking up a lot of color noise and losing detail. Actually, noise is a bit of a problem even at the SH100's lowest ISO sensitivities when photos are viewed at full size; if you need to enlarge and heavily crop your photos and still want to use them for large prints, I would skip the SH100. However, if you're considering this for its online-sharing capabilities and don't typically make prints larger than 8x10s or view images at large sizes onscreen, the SH100 is a safe choice for the money. It is because this camera is designed primarily for Web sharing that it earned a higher-than-usual photo-quality rating.
Colors produced by the SH100 were very good at and below ISO 400: bright, vivid, and pleasing. The auto white balance is good, which is important since this camera really is all about automatic shooting. If you do want more say in the end result, in the Program mode you have access to manual white balance and custom RGB sliders as well as sharpness, saturation, and contrast sliders.
There's a slight amount of barrel distortion at the wide end of the lens and barely perceptible pincushioning with the lens extended. More importantly, the lens on my review camera was inconsistent with some softness off to the sides, particularly the left side. Center sharpness was OK, though.
Video quality is on par with a basic HD pocket video camera; good enough for Web use and casual TV viewing. Panning the camera will create judder that's typical of the video from most compact cameras and you will see ghosting with fast-moving subjects. The zoom lens does function while recording, though the audio cuts out slightly while the lens is moving. Image stabilization is digital only.
If you really like playing with filters and other shooting effects with your smartphone, the SH100 is definitely the camera for you. While it has regular point-and-shoot auto modes, it also has a lot of other automatic shooting options beyond simple scene modes. What's nice is that you can use them both before you shoot or apply them after with a built-in editor. While you don't have complete control over shutter speed and aperture, there is a Night mode that lets you select shutter speeds from 1 second up to 16 seconds and pick from two apertures (though one is achieved with a neutral density filter). Also, the camera's Program mode has more control than you usually get at this price.
Shooting performance is a bit mixed. The SH100's shutter lag is low for its class at 0.4 second in bright lighting and 0.7 second in dim conditions. However, it's somewhat slow to start up and shoot, averaging about 2.4 seconds. Shot-to-shot time is almost as long at 1.9 seconds; turning on the flash drives that up to 3.6 seconds. Its continuous shooting speed averages 0.7 frame per second. While these times aren't horrible, they will make taking photos of active kids and pets trickier. You'll get a shot, but it might not be the shot you were after. But really, that goes for most point-and-shoots, especially those that cost less than $200.
Samsung wisely kept the SH100 very small and light. If you're already leaving your camera at home in favor of your smartphone's camera, you probably wouldn't be interested in something that's bulky and heavy unless it had a significantly longer lens. With its 3-inch touch screen used for most of the controls, it slips easily into a small bag or pants pocket. The only buttons are the power and shutter release on top and playback and home buttons on back. The screen isn't very responsive to fingers; you can use them, but even after calibrating it to my taps I found it didn't work consistently. On the other hand, the included stylus that clips to the wrist strap worked perfectly.
The SH100 has a very smartphone-like interface with pages of large icons to tap on and easy menu scrolling. Press and hold an icon and you can then move it to another page. For example, if you really like using the Vignetting mode, just drag it over to the first page of options so it's one of the first things you see when you turn on the camera.
The wireless features in general are easy to set up and use, though you'll want to use the stylus to tap in usernames and passwords. (Note: Wi-Fi networks that require you to agree to terms and conditions before you can connect—such as those at hotels and airports—will not work with this camera.) You can upload to Facebook, Picasa, YouTube, Photobucket, and a Samsung Imaging site. Up to 20 photos at a time can be sent with the total size being 10MB or less. The rub is that photos must be 2 megapixels or smaller and video is limited to 30-second clips recorded at 320x240-pixel resolution. Photos shot at higher resolutions will automatically resize while uploading, but movies will not. Photos can be sent by e-mail directly from the camera, too, but have the same restrictions.
The Remote Viewfinder feature is very cool, but its overall usefulness is debatable. It's good for setting up self-portraits and group shots, but because there's a significant lag between tapping your smartphone's screen and the camera responding you have to remain fairly still to get the shot you want.
The app (a free download on the Android Market and Apple App Store) can control flash, timer, resolution (2 or 10 megapixels), and the shutter release. Once you snap a photo it's stored on the camera, but you'll also see a small version on your phone screen. Tap it and you'll see a larger version that can be saved to your smartphone resized to VGA (640x480 pixels) quality.
The SH100 uses microSD cards for storage, something to consider if you've already got SD cards you're planning to use. These little cards can be a hassle, but they make sense for smartphone owners. This way if you can't connect the camera wirelessly or want to upload or e-mail a full-size photo or video, you can just pop out the card and stick it directly into the phone's card slot. The card slot is in the bottom of the camera with the battery, which is charged in-camera via USB. Unfortunately, Samsung uses a proprietary AV/USB port on this model, requiring you to use the included cable. The battery is rated for up to 220 shots, but keep in mind that battery life will be cut short if you're using the Wi-Fi or the touch screen a lot.
The Samsung SH100 is a fun little point-and-shoot. It is the closest thing to using a smartphone, which in this case is a very good thing. Stay away from the SH100 if you require good low-light photos without a flash; the results above ISO 400 just aren't good. But otherwise, it offers a lot of things to play with that you normally wouldn't get at its sub-$200 price.