A 24x superzoom that goes the distance?
Samsung is big in smart technology and user-friendly features and the WB5000 takes full advantage of this. It features Face Detection, a tool that automatically detects a face in the frame and adjusts focus and exposure for optimal portraiture. Face Recognition prioritises a familiar faces over unfamiliar ones when selecting the focus frame and metering area; and there are other intelligent auto settings like the Blink Detection and Smile Mode that help the user take the perfect conventional portrait.
An interesting combination of features, but delivers mixed results
Another aid to portraiture is the Beauty Shot Mode that uses in-camera effects to soften signs of age and skin imperfections. During tests, I was pleasantly surprised by the results, with Beauty Shot delivering smooth and bright portraits that truly enhanced skin appearance. The WB5000 also has a sophisticated file management system, Smart Album, which organises images according to date, colour, subject and file type for easy and rational browsing.
The video mode of the WB5000 is pretty comprehensive presenting three different resolution choices according to the final destination use of the footage: HD at 1280 x 720 pixels for TV viewing and 640 x 480 and 320 x 240 for Internet uploading. Frame rate in HD mode is 30 fps but you also have a 15fps or a 60 fps option. More importantly the WB5000 allows the full use of its optical zoom while shooting, enabling more resourceful and adaptable filmmaking. Stereo audio recording is an additional benefit that makes the sound reproduction of this camera really a lot fuller and more nuanced than the mono option featured in most compacts.
Another simple but effective device is the red button giving you direct access to video capture in very much the same way a camcorder start/stop button would. The WB5000 also includes a HDMI port to connect the camera to an HDTV. The WB5000 uses a rechargeable Li-ion battery that has a very decent life span of around 300 shots per charge and SD/SDHC memory cards for storage, but if you run out of space and need to take just a few extra shots you can save them directly onto the 40MB internal memory.
In typical Samsung style, the WB5000 is packed with intelligent user-friendly features and impressive specifications. Unfortunately, the image quality and general performance of this new model are disappointing. Samsung is trying to appeal to both complete beginners and more seasoned photographers by putting together a mix of clever technology and manual control, but in this case the final product does not measure up to the competition.
If you need an all-rounder with a broader than average superzoom this could be a sensible camera choice, but if you are at all serious about photography, the WB5000 simply won’t do. Personally, I’d love to see Samsung being less prolific in camera releases and pay more attention to what cameras are ultimately all about: pictures. ®
Catherine Monfils is a professional photographer specialising in portraiture, lifestyle and fashion.
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