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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.

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March 2, 2010, 5:17 am

A photograph of children outside a primary school?! How dare you, I'm off to form an angry mob right now! We'll be looking for you outside Exeter Cathedral's West Window tomorrow, complete with flaming torches and misspelt placards..

More seriously though Cliff, are you sure that "Samsung has never made a superzoom camera" before? What about the (quite good) 15X Zoom Pro815 you reviewed in August 2006?


March 2, 2010, 7:03 am

I saw samsung just announced the HZ50W in the PMA 2010 which should be the successor of this model I think.


March 2, 2010, 9:51 pm

... err does it have a viewfinder? Another thing it seems there are no super superzooms as image quality is often around the "7" mark...? Going back awhile I remember that fixed focus lenses were considered way better quality than zoom lenses... Nevertheless superzoom cameras are fun and capable of some really good photos.

Cliff Smith

March 5, 2010, 8:30 pm

Noodles - Your memory is clearly better than mine, I'd forgotten all about the Pro815. What a bizarre contraption that was; two LCD monitors, one of them 3.8 inches, a 15x zoom with no stabilisation and the slowest AF ever. Pretty decent picture quality for the time though.

Kai - Yes, you're probably correct. The photos I've seen of the HZ50W do look a lot like the WB5000, and the speed with which Samsung has been updating its camera range recently make it likely that an updated 14MP version will appear soon.

Terry - 3rd paragraph, page 2. It has an electronic viewfinder, although not a particularly good one.


March 6, 2010, 12:14 am

Terry - Another thing it seems there are no super superzooms as image quality is often around the "7"

my thougths too, until I remembered this:


March 6, 2010, 12:45 am

@Cliff: Hah, the only reason I remembered it existed was because of it's complete and utter breeze-block like weirdness. Almost bought one once, but ended up being boring and got an S9500 instead..


March 6, 2010, 8:41 pm

Thanks for the link Splogbust... and another thing!... why do electronic "viewfinders" have to be such a shoddy compromise on an instrument where optics take prime place...? A camera is all about the "view" before your eyes surely? I have a superzoom that has an awful electronic viewfinder...


March 7, 2010, 5:48 am

I struggle with the review.

Why award the camera 8/10 overall when the thing that is most important - the image quality - is so poor I wouldn't change my Fuji S602 (now 6 years old) for it as the images look at least as good as the Samsung, if not better!

I can't even understand how it got 7/10 for image quality when the test shots are clearly poor by any standard, especially the ISO tests - mottling at 64ISO???

If that was me it'd be marked down a couple of points on image quality alone and at the price I'd say it was pretty poor value for money.


March 7, 2010, 8:08 pm

The price is very good actually, consider the feature it offers. Many other superzooms are more expensive than this one.

For image quality, I'd mark down one point to 6. but 7 is still fair. We should understand the score is relative. When u look at the score of compact camera, u are comparing to other compact camera. When u look at score of entry-level DSL, U are comparing to other entry-level DSL. as well as superzooms, When u look at the score, it is comparing with other superzooms. The score is not a absolute value for all kinds of camera.

And most superzooms have lower image quality. So the standard is also lower.


March 9, 2010, 4:08 am

... time to find your 35mm SLRs, buy a roll of film, put your fixed focus 28mm or 50mm on the front and take some quality photos...?!

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