• Recommended by TR
Samsung WB500


Our Score


Review Price free/subscription

In terms of overall performance the WB500 acquits itself well. It starts up in approximately two and a half seconds, and in single shot mode it can take a picture every 1.9 seconds, which is pretty quick. There are two full resolution continuous shooting options, offering either 0.8fps or 1.7fps, which is also quite impressive. Samsung's new DRIM image processing engine seems to have some serious grunt, which bodes well for the other models in the range.

The WB500 has a very good video mode, shooting in 1280 x 720 resolution at 30fps, recording in the popular MPEG4 H.264 format. The zoom lens can be used while recording, but it does produce a loud whir which is audible on the mono soundtrack. Picture quality is good though, even when shooting in low light.

The autofocus system is particularly good, and especially its low light performance. The AF assist lamp isn't that bright, but nonetheless the cameras will reliably focus in total darkness at a range of around four meters. The flash range lives up to its claimed 4.7m maximum range, and recharges fairly quickly in about six seconds from a full-power flash. However thanks to the position of the flashgun relative to the handgrip and shutter button it is all too easy to get your fingers in front of the flash, resulting in some odd shadows.

The make-or-break of a camera is of course image quality, something which has proven to be a weak spot for some previous Samsung cameras. There's certainly nothing wrong with the lens, which produces virtually no wide-angle distortion and excellent edge-to-edge sharpness, although it does suffer from a little chromatic aberration in the corners of the frame. The new processing engine seems to have taken care of most other possible problems, and the overall image quality is very good. Dynamic range is somewhat limited, as is usually the case with small-sensor 10MP cameras. The Auto Contrast Balance does help to preserve shadow detail, although there is a tendency to burn out highlights and some very bright saturated colours lack detail. Noise control is very good, with little visible noise at 400 ISO and decent image quality even at 800, although at 1600 and 3200 ISO there is a lot of noise.


The new Samsung WB500 is an extremely impressive camera for the price. It looks good, has superb build quality, a huge list of features, and its performance measures up to cameras costing £100 more. It does have one or two foibles, but when it comes down to value for money it's hard to beat.

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October 9, 2009, 4:07 pm

This looks absolutely perfect for me, was really wanting the TZ7 but with so much other stuff i want at the moment finding it hard to justify the outlay. Awesome!


October 10, 2009, 2:25 am

WOW! its about time i saw a review on this camera! I was hoping for a video review as well. ???


October 10, 2009, 5:07 pm

Great value for the money.

Mmmmm I was hoping for a video sample too at 720p hehehe.


October 12, 2009, 1:42 am

I've owned one of these since march of this year, quite surprised that there weren't any reviews out before i bought it, but i liked it in the shop, so went for it. The full manual mode is good, but the limited manual controls are frustrating with extended use, as they are difficult to access.

When compared to my dad's TZ5 and TZ7 the pictures that it produces are appreciably less vibrant and sharp in full auto mode.

Not saying that i wouldn't recommend it, but if you can handle the (IMO) ugly UI and the price of the TZ series, go with one of them.

Tristan Hawkins

October 13, 2009, 11:30 am

Thanks for that JellyUK. I'm been comparing looking into a pocketable camera / camcorder primarily to record videos but also take photos.

Originally I was leaning toward the Kodak Zi8 which is very much camcorder with a camera bit thrown in, then I flirted thinking about the more expensive TZ7.... finally my attention turned to the WB500 after this glowing TR reveiw.... your comment has pushed me back to the TZ7. It's more expensive but better to spend a bit more and get exactly what I want. A device that records excellent HD videos and can take very good quality photos too.


October 13, 2009, 2:36 pm

Do note that when comparing the WB500 to the TZ series cameras that the TZ cameras give you NO control over aperture and shutter speed. They are program auto and scene modes only. Mind you, The TZ cameras to come up with excellent results.


October 13, 2009, 8:24 pm

@PeterB666 and Tristian

Yeah, the TZ series have no manual mode, but in my opinion, the manual mode for the WB500 isn't really worth the hassle of using. If you want to spend time getting the shot right, then maybe it will work for you, but in the case i would go with a less compact camera, as quick shots obviously aren't as much of a priority.

At the end of the day, i always just leave it in full auto mode, and the difference between the WB500 and the TZ7 in that regard is pretty big.


October 15, 2009, 9:15 pm

Whoa......I have a TZ5 and WB550. The TZ is not way better at all. There is a marginal difference but my TZ is worse in low light and loses focus to easily when zooming. I prefer the WB550 also because it gives me a bit more settings to play with, admittedly, not a lot but enough to make me carry it around in preference to the TZ. Also there is HD video as well which has a very useful pause button so that you don't have to stop the movie clip if there is an "inbetween bit" that you don't want, you can pause the clip until ready. Also the video duration is 29+ minutes whereas the TZ is only 8-11 here in the UK. The H264 video is easily edited as well. Batteries for the WB550 are not proprietary as in the case of the TZ7 as well (£50 for one!!)so any make will fit which adds to the ability to carry two or three when out for the day.

Robert McKenzie

November 2, 2009, 4:18 pm

I bought this camera last week for a £146 on sale - I open it and was initial staggered at the operating interface which is cluttered and not well thought out. I had to configure the camera because it had the factory default settings in situ and this took me 10 minutes - whereas with an intuitive interface it should have been 1 min or so.

I proceded to take some photos in auto mode - and I was gobsmacked - the quality - the exposure control - the clarity - the sharpness absolutely touch notch. I then started to play around with the various settings including manual configuartions and yes trying to get the right control was fiddly - but it was achievable. The zoom capabability was very nice to have and the optical is excellent - the digital really does required a tripod and using the timer delay for the shutter release.

Overall - I am well pleased to have bought this camera and the wife now has the EZ-1080. The only real issue I have now is trying to get a hard camera case for it.

At the weekend a friend sought me out as he had just purchased a TZ7 for £270 and said he was having problems and he asked me to look at the setting - yes the interface is more intuitive but the level of control over the photographs did not seem as advance as the WB500. I gave him a 30 minute lesson in what the settings were and basically said always shoot in auto mode or use the standard scene mode setting - dont try and be creative. The zoom was accurate and responsive and the picture quality seemed the same for both cameras.

The point is from a holiday snap type environment it too close to call between the WB500 and the TZ7 in full auto mode, both give excellent high definition photos with perfect exposure and lighting - but when the photographer wants to be more creative the WB500 has the lead albeit through a much harder interface, but that will become easier as you get familiar with it.

So overall Im well please having bought this camera.


December 24, 2009, 4:08 am

Been using the WB500 for a few months now for everyday use and it does feel nice to hold and has some good features. The USB interface does feel somewhat feeble and I cant see it lasting long with constant charging downloading etc. The pictures do suffer from a LOT of chromatic aberration even at the wide angle end which I find very anoying. On a positive note low light capability is very impresive. I read mixed reviews before I bought it but got a bargain price, however its back to my pentax optio S10 from now on!

Person chap

July 25, 2014, 9:08 am

I miss the detail and expertise Cliff used to pour into his reviews!

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