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Samsung WB500 Digital Camera Review

samsung090512b.jpgDigital Camera Review by: Katrina Putker 

 

The 10.2-megapixel WB500 looks and feels dissimilar from competing compacts and that’s because it brings something a little bit different to the market.

 

At first sight, this particular Samsung model demonstrates a unique design approach that lends itself to the boxier style of consumer film cameras of the early nineties and is therefore probably double the width (36.5mm) and weight (219g minus battery and card) of many compacts within its price range.

Having said that, Samsung have created this unit fairly robustly and within what seems to be the standard presets for compact camera design (in terms of button and dial placement etc.) and so overall, the unit is both ergonomically friendly easy to use.

The right-hand grip section is purposefully chunkier than the rest of the body to enable the unit to sit better in hand and help balance the overall design, which has the noticeably enlarged lens element slightly protruding on the left-hand side.

A well-placed finger grip pad rests on the front of the WB500’s body where the two middle fingers sit comfortably to help stabilise the unit when in action. The rubbery grip pad also helps to steer the fingers away from the top of the front of the body where the flash is located.

Undoubtedly though, the most notable feature on the WB500 is its remarkable 4.2-42mm Schneider-Kreuznach lens that offers 24mm wide angle, 240mm telephoto zoom, and a whopping 10x optical zoom – all features rarely seen at the point-and-shoot level.

If it sounds impressive, it’s because it is.

In fact, the WB500 is the world’s first high zoom digital compact with a built-in ultra wide-angle lens capable of 10x optical zoom, making it one of the most versatile lenses on a compact camera going around.

So, for the sake of having a body that is slightly larger than other compacts in its class, you get a high performance and extremely versatile lens that way out-classes its competition in terms of the extensive range of shooting possibilities.

For travelling in particular, the WB500 would be ideal. It’s compact enough to take everywhere and yet well and truly capable of capturing  an array of scenes and situations from what Samsung refer to as a ‘deep perspective.’

Would you like to take a photo of your tour group without having to squash them all together or to photograph a breathtaking landscape over Machu Picchu or the Himalayas? What about taking a self-portrait with the Eiffel Tower or pyramids in the background or zooming in to see the time on Big Ben when you visited? No problem at all. The WB500 can do it all and do it well, which is most important.

The included dual image stabilisation utilises the power of both optical and digital image stabilisation to help combat blur caused from user hand shake, particularly in low-light conditions where flash is not being used.

Many brands of compacts offer the same or similar technology but with less impressive results and Samsung should be congratulated for delivering on their marketers promise with this one.

Other noted technologies include face detection, which is complimented by smile and blink detection features that Samsung claim can guarantee smiling faces and blink-free images and for the most part, this seems accurate.

Beauty shot function is accessible via the main mode dial and will automatically retouch facial imperfections so that the skin appears smoother and more evenly toned.

The WB500 will only produce a single ‘beautified’ image, as opposed to other brands that may offer an original and a retouched version, however where this unit outshines its competitors in the beauty mode stakes is in its ability to avoid smudging or softening the eyes, eyebrows, teeth and mouth etc. and alters only the skin itself.

Innovative self-shot mode helps angle the camera in to a position where your face is in the centre of the frame by signaling to you with a series of beeps. Once given the appropriate audio signal, simply press the shutter and you’re guaranteed an image with yourself at the centre.

This particular feature is simple in theory but actually quite clever and is likely to be a big hit with chronic self-shooters.

High definition movie recording is available at 1024x720p resolution and 30fps, and proves to be another serious draw card for the WB500.  Samsung have included compression technology that doubles the storage efficiency of digital camcorders thereby offering more memory to users.

An additional plus is the way the WB500 will continue to record HD footage until the camera’s card memory capacity is full, as opposed to other brands that enforce a maximum time limit on the length of their movies.

Optical zoom can be utilised whilst shooting as well, along with image stabilisation, helping to increase the quality of the movie/s even further.

Like almost any camera within this price range, the WB500 does suffer the effects of shooting at higher ISO settings and where possible it would be best not to push beyond ISO 400. The range does extend right out to 3200 ISO however and as long as you don’t intend to enlarge the resulting images, the photos will suffice.medal-gold-r.jpg

No digital compact camera is perfect and the same goes for the WB500. Having said that, this particular unit is a very solid performer with far more pros than there are cons and it is difficult to look past the exceptionally versatile ultra wide angle, 10x optical zoom lens when researching within this price range.

If you’re after a super slim, lightweight compact that looks better than it performs, the WB500 is not for you. If, on the other hand, you can handle a little extra build in exchange for some great image quality and an impressive list of intuitive technologies, this unit from Samsung is highly recommended.

 

 

 

Appearance rating 3.5 stars
Functionality rating 4 stars
Image quality
4 stars
Lens quality
4.5 stars
View finder / LCD screen 3 stars
Value for money 4.5 stars
RRP (AUD) $529
SPACER.GIF  
Effective Pixels 10.2 Million mega pixels
Image Sizes 7 Sizes
Lens - zoom wide [mm] 24mm (35mm equivalent )
Lens -zoom tele [mm] 240mm (35mm equivalent )
Lens - Optical Zoom Yes, 5x
Resolution Settings From  1024 x 768 to 3648 X 273
Shooting Modes 9 Scenes
Face Detection Yes
Metering Multi, Spot, Center Weighted, Face Detection AE
Manual Focus No
Auto Focus Yes
Focus Range [cm] 50cm ~ infinity (Wide), 2m ~ infinity (Tele)
Aperture Range F3.3(W) ~ F5.8(T)
Aperture Priority Yes
Macro Yes
Macro Range [cm] 5cm ~ 50cm (Wide), 1m~2m (Tele)
Shutter Speeds 16s ~ 1/1,500s
Shutter Priority Yes
ISO Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200(Up to 3M Size)
LCD Monitor Yes
LCD Size 2.7" (6.9cm) QVGA (230,000 pixel)
Viewfinder No
Flash Auto, Auto & Red-eye reduction, Fill-in flash, Slow sync, Flash off, Red eye fix
Hot Shoe No
White balance Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent_H, Fluorescent_L, Tungsten, Custom
Self Timer Self-timer : 10 sec., 2 sec., Double, Motion Timer, Remote Controller (SRC-A5)
Movie Options Yes. Limited only by memory card size.
Video Out Yes
Audio Voice Recording (max. 10 hours)
Voice Memo in Still Image (max. 10 sec.)
Stereo Recording
Storage Type External Memory(Optional) : MMCplus(up to 2GB guaranteed 4bit 20MHz)
SD (up to 4GB guaranteed)
SDHC (up to 8GB guaranteed)
Storage Included [Mb] 30MB Internal Memory
Capture Formats Still Image : JPEG (DCF), EXIF 2.21, DPOF 1.1, PictBridge 1.0
Movie Clip :MP4 (H.264(MPEG4.AVC))
Audio : WAV
Connectivity USB
Power Source Adaptor : SAC-47, SUC-C5
Battery Options Rechargeable battery : SLB-10A (1,050mAh)
Dimensions (W) 105 x (H) 61.4 x (D) 36.5 mm
Weight 219g
 
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