Thursday, March 19, 2015

Review of the 'mystery' Samsung WB380F smart camera


I just bought a new Samsung WB380F smart camera through Best Buy's online store.  It's a mid-level compact point-and-shoot that has wifi and online connectors for several online photo-sharing services.  I specifically wanted something that could link to my cell phone (when switched to hotspot mode) and directly backup photos and videos to Flickr.

That didn't work out so well.


Apparently Best Buy listed the camera for-sale before it was supposed to be released?  That's the only explanation I can think of for the strange experience I've had with the camera.  In general, I like the camera and it definitely takes better photos than my Nexus 5 smartphone!  But there's no longer a Flickr app.  That was an included feature on the predecessor model, the Samsung WB350F, but apparently its been dropped.  I tried to find a list of supported services but the 350 is still the model listed on the Samsung U.S. web-site. In fact there's no mention of the 380, at all.  When I tried to google "samsung wb380f" all I found were references to camera stores in Germany where it had gone on-sale in January (two months ago).  I couldn't find any reviews or anything in English.

So I submitted a tech-support request through Samsung's web-site.  Their response was, "This is not a U.S. model."  Um, then why is it for-sale at Best Buy?  Why are all the buttons and manual in English?  I tried googling it again and now, just 2 days later, I see it listed on the Samsung Australia and Samsung UK web-sites.  What's more, the older 350 model is now sold-out on the U.S. web-site.  So clearly they're getting ready to switch models and I simply got ahold of one early.


Meanwhile, I had started experimenting with the remaining online services -- Picasa, Facebook, YouTube, and Dropbox.  Picasa is really Google Plus: Photos.  Dropbox won't let me login and I think the issue is that it doesn't recognize the 380 as a supported model.  (I didn't try Facebook or YouTube because I don't plan on sharing anything online; I just want a mobile backup in case I run out of storage or lose the phone.)  I called Samsung's phone support and they agreed that my issue needed to be escalated.

I tried using the built-in Picasa backup but I don't like the Google Photos web-site, e.g. I couldn't see any way to organize my unsorted photos.  You can either view the (already sorted) Albums, or you can View All which is a big mess.  (My phone has a built-in Google Photos backup but that was the same result as the camera's app.)

I tried using my phone's built-in Google Drive backup but then there's no 'photo awareness' of the files.

I also tried using the official Flickr app but it only backs-up photos you take with the phone, i.e., it ignores photos you copy from elsewhere.


  1. I installed Flickr Upload on my Nexus smartphone
  2. I installed Samsung Smart Camera app on my Nexus
  3. I take pictures/videos on the Wb380F
  4. Put the camera in 'wifi' mode, then select Mobile Link > Select Files From Phone
  5. Open the Samsung Smart Camera app on my phone
  6. tap the back of the phone to the 'NFC' label on the left-side of the camera
  7. on the phone, click Select All checkbox, then COPY
  8. The wireless copy is fast, e.g. 2-3 MB/second
  9. Flickr Upload sees the new files and immediately re-copies them 'up' to the cloud
Even though this is a two-step transfer I only need to select the photos/videos once (in the Samsung app).  Everything else is automatic.  And I like the Flickr site because it has multiple views you can select, e.g. the new Camera Roll sorts by date and makes it easy to Select All > Add To Album.


One thing I noticed is that the camera has a wide-angle lenses so everything looks far away.  If you try to fill the image by walking close to your subject, there's a 'fish-eye' effect.  Instead you need to use the 21x optical zoom.