Product Type: Samsung digital cameras
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Ultra-wide-angle camera good for the informed amateur user
Member Name: greenandmaple
Advantages: many selectable options, ease of use, picture quality
Disadvantages: none specifically
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.
Summary: The WB500 is a good camera for a hobbyist to get involved in the technical bits of photography.
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