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Samsung WB5000 review

Samsung WB5000
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £247
inc VAT

An extremely capable camera with some great features, but significantly slower than the very similar Panasonic FZ38


1/2.33in 12.0-megapixel sensor, 24.0x zoom (26-624mm equivalent), 398g

Samsung hasn’t made an ultra-zoom camera since 2005’s impressive but bizarre Pro815. This time around, the design is far more conventional, blending in with the likes of the Panasonic FZ38 Panasonic FZ38.

One standout feature is the WB5000’s zoom range, which stretches from a wide-angle 26mm all the way to 624mm. The 180-shot battery life is also noteworthy, but for the wrong reasons. Additional batteries cost £18 but in-camera charging makes it impossible to charge one while using another.

Performance is disappointing, taking 3.5 seconds to switch on and take a photo, and anything from three to five seconds between subsequent shots. Full-power flash shots were 10 seconds apart. The camera is short on dedicated, single-use controls, but a Function button provides quick access to all the key photographic options, including RAW capture and AE bracketing. The navigation pad doubles as a wheel for dialling in settings, and is put to good use in the nicely implemented manual exposure and focus modes. Its action is a little light, though, and we sometimes accidentally clicked its buttons as we attempted to rotate it.

There’s a dedicated video capture button, and 720p HD recordings use AVC compression to keep file sizes down to a manageable 10Mbit/s. Detail levels were excellent, although diagonal lines looked blocky – a problem caused by poor anti-aliasing (see FAQ, left). Videos were a little noisy in artificial light, but still acceptable. Sound is recorded in stereo and saved as 128Kbit/s AAC, and was far better than the usual grotty mono recordings. It’s a shame there’s no manual exposure mode for video, though, nor an HDMI output for watching clips back on an HDTV.

We often find that lenses with massive zoom ranges struggle to deliver sharp focus at their extremes. That’s not the case here, though. The corners of frames were a little soft at extreme focal lengths but the centre stayed pin-sharp throughout the zoom range. Digital correction is used to remove lens distortions and, we’d guess, chromatic aberrations too – the preview image had some barrel distortion at the wide-angle end of the zoom but the resulting shots were straight, and we found no sign of chromatic aberrations.

Colour reproduction was excellent and automatic exposures were generally well judged. The exception was that the camera was a little over-confident of its optical stabilisation, attempting shutters speeds as slow as 1/25s at 624mm. As with any camera with a 12-megapixel, 1/2.3in sensor, noise reduction decimated details in low light, but ISO 400 and 800 shots looked fine when resized to fit a computer screen.

The WB5000 competes directly with the excellent Panasonic FZ38, and puts up an impressive fight. They’re neck and neck for image quality; the Samsung’s zoom range is bigger but the Panasonic’s lens is sharper. Samsung loses ground in terms of performance and battery life, though, which is enough to keep the Panasonic in the lead.

Basic Specifications

CCD effective megapixels12.0 megapixels
CCD size1/2.33in
Viewfinder magnification, coverageN/A
LCD screen size3.0in
LCD screen resolution230,000 pixels
Articulated screenNo
Live viewYes
Optical zoom24.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent26-624mm
Image stabilisationoptical, lens based
Maximum image resolution4,000×3,000
Maximum movie resolution1280×720
Movie frame rate at max quality30fps
File formatsJPEG, RAW; MP4 (AVC)


Memory slotSDHC
Mermory supplied20MB internal
Battery typeLi-ion
Battery Life (tested)180 shots
ConnectivityUSB, AV
HDMI output resolutionN/A
Body materialplastic
Lens mountN/A
Focal length multiplier5.6x
Kit lens model nameN/A
AccessoriesUSB and AV cables

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB

Camera Controls

Exposure modesprogram, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed16 to 1/2,000 seconds
Aperture rangef/2.8-8 (wide), f5-8 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution)64 to 1600
Exposure compensation+/-2 EV
White balanceauto, 5 presets with fine tuning, manual, custom
Additional image controlscontrast, saturation, sharpness, dynamic range
Manual focusYes
Closest macro focus1cm
Auto-focus modesmulti, centre, spot, tracking, face detect
Metering modesmulti, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flashauto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, red-eye reduction
Drive modessingle, continuous, self-timer, AE bracket, smile detect

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