The 24x optical zoom offered by the Samsung WB5000's lens is equivalent to a wide-angle 26-624mm in 35mm terms. It ticks the boxes for must-haves by offering 1,280x720 HD video clips at 30fps with individual record button, the choice of fixed LCD or EVF, and creative manual controls with two customisable settings on its shooting mode dial. Blur-reducing anti-shake comes via optical image stabilisation, and RAW files can be shot in tandem with, or separate to, Jpegs.
Zoom control is via a lever that surrounds the shutter release button. Nudge this and the lens quickly takes just over two seconds to travel from maximum wide angle to full telephoto, at which point, though, the fully extended plastic lens barrel appears a little vulnerable. The Samsung WB5000 has the advantage of incorporating a stereo microphone above the zoom, but its location and sensitivity ensures its operational noise is picked up when recording video clips in quieter locations. However, this is preferable to the zoom being disabled or having no sound in movie mode.
Operation of the Samsung WB5000 is fully automatic if you want it, while as a nod to enthusiast photographers there’s the ability to manually determine focus. However, this is adjusted in a rudimentary fashion that involves the user tabbing incrementally along an onscreen slider with macro at one end, infinity at the other.
The Samsung WB5000 being a Samsung model, image quality is good if not quite outstanding, colours are vividly rendered and exposures are even, with both highlight and shadow detail well maintained. If you do want to get more hands-on, individual colour channels can be tweaked via the Photo Style Selector mode. We did notice some slight focus fall off towards corners of the frame at maximum wide angle setting and pixel fringing, but this is no more pronounced than we’d expect at this level.
In fact, the best thing about the Samsung WB5000 is that it offers an affordable solution to those looking for a lightweight package that does most of what could be expected from a consumer digital camera. It should be noted that the lower price means you don’t get HDMI output.
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