Korean industrial and electronics giant Samsung continues to be one of the most prolific digital camera manufacturers, with a current product range consisting of over 30 compact cameras, the GX20 digital SLR and the new series of NX mirrorless system cameras. Despite this impressive display of productivity, until now Samsung has never made a superzoom camera. (EDIT: I forgot the Pro815 launched in 2006.) It was clearly just a matter of time though, because the company has recently launched the WB5000, a technically impressive 12.5 megapixel camera with a 24x zoom lens.
Most of the camera manufacturers have at least one superzoom model in their product range, and there are a number of very good ones against which the WB5000 will be competing. The benchmarks in this category are the superb Panasonic FZ38 which has a 12.1MP sensor and an 18x zoom, and the Canon SX10 IS, which has a 10MP sensor and 20x zoom. Both models have 720p HD video with stereo audio. The WB5000 has a specification which is a close match for its competitors, including a f/2.8 – f/5.0 24x zoom lens equivalent to 26-624mm, 1280 x 720 resolution video with stereo audio and full optical zoom, dual optical and digital image stabilisation, a three-inch 230k monitor, optional manual exposure and Raw mode shooting. For a first attempt it's pretty impressive stuff.
The overall design of the WB5000 is broadly similar to a number of other traditional superzoom cameras such as the Nikon P90 or the Olympus SP-590UZ, with a large lens barrel and a rubberised SLR-style handgrip. The body is surprisingly slim and quite light, over 100g lighter than the SX10 IS, and within a few millimetres and a few grams of being the same size and weight as the FZ38. The build quality is very good, and despite its low weight the camera feels well made and durable.