I first came across the Samsung WB500 digital camera while browsing the shelves in Tesco for a new Satnav, I had saved for a new Satnav for a few months and strangely enough I came away that day with a camera instead of a Satnav.... That's exactly how weird I can be! The camera was priced at £229 at the time roughly two years ago - It's very much cheaper now at around £99, I couldn't resist picking it from the shelf due to its looks, the big lens did it for me as I had always wanted one of those 'Big lens' cameras which I believe are called SLR's? The Samsung WB500 looked to be an in-between of a normal digital camera and an SLR so I picked her up and left the store a happy boy.
*** About the Samsung WB500 ***
The WB500 is a nice looking digital camera fitted with a beastly Schneider Kreuznach 24mm Ultra Wide lens with a 10x optical zoom. The camera has a fair sized LCD screen at 2.7" and many features to improve and modify pictures taken. The camera is chunky but small enough to fit into a standard sized pocket with ease, has a built in but removable rechargeable battery that provides an excellent battery life compared to some other cameras with similar specs.
*** Setting the camera up for the first use ***
This was a very easy process with no headaches caused of any kind. Inside the box I found the camera, a charger, a 1GB memory card and an instruction manual, that was it.... No messing around - it was simply a plug and play job. The handbook recommended a full charge of three hours to be completed prior to first use but I'm impatient and went straight ahead with taking pictures. The instructions were very basic however all of the info possibly needed was inside the book along with a brief description of the cameras features.
*** Ease of use ***
The WB500 is very easy to use and I have not experienced any difficulty in using the camera throughout the many years of owning the beast. The camera is easy to hold and it is not slippery to hold like many of the new / slim styled cameras and the chances of dropping it are quite slim. It has a rubber grip on the front which provides excellent grip for the fingers during use, the hand strap is a very handy to have and it has prevented many smashing incidents while I take pictures in high areas.... I'm slightly clumsy when it comes to technology and I often drop my devices within a few months of owning them, the Samsung has survived two years with me so far so it must be good!
The cameras menus are very easy to navigate and the buttons on the back of the camera are large enough to press without difficulty. The on/off button is easy to press but its inset to prevent accidental switch on's while storing in handbags or pockets to save battery life. The cameras menus are mainly navigated using the turning knob on the top of the camera, this is easy to turn and it's a joy to use. The camera is just designed for pure ease of use and I reckon that anyone could pick it up and instantly use it with no instructions needed.
*** Picture quality ***
The camera takes pictures at 10 megapixels which ensures a descent picture quality on various types of screens and prints. The quality of the photos is simply amazing in normal camera mode and the colours are beautiful compared to many cameras that I have used in the past. The images are crisp, clear and in my honest opinion - almost perfect, this does come at a cost though when using the 10mp setting, each picture has a file size of roughly 4mb's which takes up quite a lot of memory but the 1GB memory card still holds plenty of images and videos - the size of the images can easily be turned down in the cameras menu if need be.
The main reason for buying this camera was for taking aerial shots, I fly microlight aircraft and I'm always asked to photo people's houses from above and this camera does it superbly. Before purchasing this camera I had tried many different makes and types of cameras to find one suitable for my hobby and not one really impressed me.... The first flight with my WB500 on board had me hooked as the pictures taken were fantastic, other cameras never caught the beauty of the world from above as I was seeing it through my eyes but the Samsung definitely does!
The WB500 offers video recording as a standard feature and for as long as the memory card allows. The quality of videos is almost as good as the image quality and it never fails to amaze me whether they were taken in the day or in dark conditions. The video quality is apparently HD and the videos certainly do appear to be HD - the sound is also of an excellent quality when played through large speakers or the cameras inbuilt speaker.
*** Features ***
I won't list every single feature as there are simply too many but I will talk about some of the main ones.
Beauty shot - This is my favorite feature of all time, basically it's for facial shots whether your with a group of friends, on your own or taking photos in a mirror -The beauty shot feature detects faces in images and improves the facial skin conditions to make the user look like a model! I can confirm that this feature works exceptionally well as I suffered from acne last year, I hated any pictures as my acne used to appear worse on camera than it actually was in real life - beauty shot fixed my skin and hid every single spot, every time! The best thing is that the pictures look natural taken in this mode and it does not make the people in the image look plastic etc. This is the perfect camera for acne sufferers!
Night mode - This is a standard feature on most cameras these days but I can confirm that the mode works very well on this camera. The picture quality when flash is used is extremely good, even in a pitch black room! The flash is very good and it does not cause any blurring of images that some camera I've used in the past have done.
Continuous shot - This feature allows you to press the shutter once and leave the camera take multiple images at once; this is very handy for taking pictures of fast moving objects such as planes at an airshow. This feature works fantastically well and it has never let me down.
Super zoom - The optical zoom is amazing on this camera, 10x zoom without any noticeable quality issues... If you want to go further the digital zoom is almost as good allowing super shots from a distance.
There are many other features that this camera offers and many are standard as you would get with any other camera such as - Red eye reduction, self-shot, self-timer, voice recorder etc. I have used almost every feature of this camera and they are all useful and they all work.
*** Syncing with the computer ***
The WB500 is all plug and play with Windows computers; I'm unsure about Apple's as I don't own one but I'm sure that it would be compatible! Transferring images and videos to my laptop is a breeze, I simply plug the USB cable into both the camera and PC and voila - the camera is instantly recognised and the images transfer using Windows standard software. It's all very easy and it works well with no installation discs required.
*** Battery life, reliability and general quality ***
The battery life is fantastic to say the least offering up to 270 shots on one charge, I have taken this camera on two week holidays on a few occasions and I usually get away with one charge throughout those full two weeks, this is with daily shots and the odd video taking session here and there. The charge generally takes three hours from fully empty and this is simply done by using the charger supplied, the charger has a charging light which glows red during charging and green when the unit is fully charged and I find this simple feature very handy!
The camera is very solid and extremely well built; I have dropped it on a few occasions with only a few dents to tell the story. It's mainly made of plastic with some metal here and there to make it look pretty and finished in chrome, the camera is very reliable in every way and it has never let me down. It came with a manufacturers one year warranty and I've already double that period with no faults whatsoever with plenty of use to test its reliability.
*** Overall opinion ***
As you can probably tell, I love this camera! It's easy to use, very reliable and it takes fantastic shots while I fly around. It has never let me down and I would honestly recommend it to anyone, especially at the low price it's available at these days. Thank you Samsung for designing such a delightful camera!
Thanks for reading
I brought this camera well over a year ago and since then I have hardly gone a day without taking a great looking picture.
For a relatively cheap digital camera, it has a multitude of settings that enable, even a novice user like me, to capture high quality images. In particular, the setting 'Children' is great for taking photos of fast moving subjects that would normally be tricky to keep in focus or get a clear image of. I tend to use this particular setting coupled with the flash as this combination produces really crisp and clear images.
Another thing I love about this camera is that although it is a digital camera sand not quite a 'bridge' camera it is still chunky and has some weight to it! This may seem like a superficial comment to make, but personally I prefer to have a slightly chunkier and heavy camera to the slimline, lightweight models that you can purchase today.
I would recommend this camera to anyone who would love to take professional looking pictures with ease, but does not want to commit to a pricey SLR or is too scared to use one!
I was after a 'better' camera offering more features and flexibility after my old camera, a HP Photosmart R707 came to the end of its life. I am only a 'hobby' photographer but wanted to capture many different types of shots such as concert, landscape, beach, 'portrait' etc. I was drawn to this one as it had the 'ultra-wide' angle lens (24mm) as well as being able to be zoomed to a 'telephoto' setting. Not having had wide angle before I constantly felt like I "couldn't get enough in the picture" and this camera is great for this and also allows some interesting 'novelty' shot effects to be produced by choosing the right settings.
The features on this camera allow a good deal of manual control over the shooting options such as ISO setting, spot/matrix metering etc but also has an 'auto' mode with settings for scenes such as night, 'beauty shot', various options for colour balance ('Retro', 'Forest' etc). You can also choose the various flash options such as red eye compensation; timed shots; etc. The camera also allows on-board editing of photos prior to opening them in a graphics program (though I haven't used this much as I prefer to do them in software).
Picture quality was good especially when choosing the correct options manually, though 'Auto' mode also does a pretty good job of automatically choosing the appropriate settings. So far I've tried it on many different types of shots such as macro, beach/landscape, textures, people, 'abstract', architecture etc and was pleased with the results.
The maximum 10 MP resolution provides a good level of detail in the photos but other resolutions can be selected, in various aspect ratios. It's possible to crop a 10 MP picture later of course but is useful to have the option to compose the photo in a different aspect ratio (the ratios are pre-set rather than being directly able to define - as you would expect!)
I found the user interface on-screen to be very easy to use - the user guide that comes with the camera (on disc) was also very helpful with this but being an impatient sort of person I got involved in the camera straight away without reading the user guide (daring I know!) and managed to 'intuitively' use it easily, though to get a full idea of all the options available (and there are a lot) I would suggest having a look at the user manual!
It is compatible with SD and SDHC memory cards meaning photos can be transferred easily between the camera and computer. I also liked the fact that it comes with a USB based charger which can be used with the mains or through the USB socket on a PC. As with a lot of Samsung's products (I've bought their phones and other products in the past) they have a proprietary connector rather than a standard mini-USB meaning you do need to use the supplied charger though (unfortunately for me this means keeping track of it - I have a habit of losing cables and such, goodness knows where they all go - but I've managed to keep hold of this one!)
I also found that the battery life is very good, once charged initially it only seemed to take 3-4 hours to charge back up (though obviously this depends how much battery power you have used) and stored charge well - my old camera would go 'flat' if I hadn't used it for a couple of days - so was pleasantly surprised with this with the WB500.
All in all it's probably more a camera for the hobbyist than the 'professional' as although priced a bit higher than many of the mass market cameras it probably doesn't have all the options a professional would require, but I think is a good choice of camera for someone looking to 'branch out' into having more control over photos and effects.