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Samsung WB2000 Review

Pros

  • Outstanding image quality
  • Good autofocus
  • Superb 3-inch preview LCD

Cons

  • A little expensive

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £299.00
  • 3-inch AMOLED monitor
  • 5x Schneider Kreuznach f/2.4-5.8 zoom lens
  • 1080p video recording
  • 10-megapixel sensor
  • ISO up to 3200

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Samsung, as I’ve noted before, is one of the most prolific digital camera manufacturers. Its range currently includes the GX20 digital APS-C SLR, the two models that currently comprise the NX compact system camera range, and no fewer than 26 compact cameras. Although that may sound like a lot, this is actually fairly restrained for Samsung; its compact camera range has often run to over 35 models.


The newest camera in that huge list is the WB2000 compact that I’m looking at today. The WB series is home to most of Samsung’s high-end compacts, such as the excellent WB650 travel camera, the WB5000 super-zoom, and the WB1000 advanced compact, the predecessor of today’s camera.


Like the WB1000 the WB2000 is a technically advanced camera aimed at experienced users, featuring a high quality Schneider Kreuznach f/2.4-5.8 5x zoom lens (equivalent to 24-120mm), a 10-megapixel back-illuminated high speed CMOS sensor, a 7.6cm (3.0 inch) VGA resolution AMOLED monitor, and a full range of manual exposure controls. In terms of competition the WB2000 is in the same category as the Canon S95 (£290) and the Panasonic LX5 (£330), although its closest rival is probably the Casio EX-FH100 (£245), which has similar high-speed shooting options. The WB2000 is quite expensive by comparison, currently selling for £290, although that price will probably drop fairly quickly as dealers offer discounts coming up to Christmas.

As with Samsung’s other high-spec cameras the build quality is very good, with a strong all-aluminium body finished in either gunmetal grey or matt black, and a unique design that is a combination of practicality and whimsy. It has a small but effective textured handgrip on the front and a thumbgrip on the back, and the controls include a rotary bezel around the D-pad, and a (rather fiddly) roller control next to the thumbgrip that is used to alter frame rate and drive modes. The whimsy comes in the shape of two red-needled analogue dials on the top panel, which display remaining battery capacity and storage space. These are unnecessary, since it also has a display on the monitor which also shows this information, but they are an attractive and interesting feature that help to set the WB2000 apart among a vast number of very similar compact cameras.


The WB2000 has a good range of useful features, including multiple focusing and exposure metering options, a range of filter effects and photo styles including a manually adjustable RGB filter, and adjustable contrast, sharpness and saturation. These are controlled via two menu systems, a sidebar function menu for the most commonly used features, and a full and very comprehensive main menu for everything else. The menus have been redesigned with better graphics and some animated effects, and look very slick. The scene mode, selected via the main mode dial on the top, also has very nice thumbnails to aid selection.


The WB2000 has advanced manual exposure controls, including aperture and shutter priority as well as full manual exposure. It has a range of aperture values from f/2.4 to f/7.2 at wide angle in 1/3EV increments, and shutter speeds from 16 seconds to 1/2000th of a second, also in 1/3EV steps. Exposure values are adjusted via the rotary bezel around the D-pad. I’m slightly surprised that the roller control cannot be set to adjust exposure values, since this would be very useful in full manual mode.


The monitor is of particular interest. It is a 7.6cm AMOLED screen with a resolution of 640 x 480, or 306,000 pixels. It is exceptionally clear and bright with superb colour rendition, and a very wide angle of view in all directions.


The WB2000 is the latest compact camera to feature full 1920 x 1080 HD video recording, with stereo sound recorded via a pair of microphones on the top panel. Full optical zoom can be used while recording, but the autofocus only operates at the start of recording. It is possible to shoot up to five full-resolution still images while simultaneously recording video. Both video and audio quality are very good, although the microphones do pick up a lot of background noise and are quite prone to wind noise. There are also several high-speed video modes, capable of shooting at 240, 480 or 1000fps, although obviously at greatly reduced resolution. The 1000fps mode shoots at a tiny 192 x 64 size.

The WB2000’s overall performance is very good. It starts up and is ready to take a picture in just under three seconds, and shuts down again in about one and a half seconds. In single-shot mode the shot-to-shot time is approximately 2.4 seconds, which could possibly be a little faster, and the control logic means that if you press the shutter button before it’s finished processing the previous shot it doesn’t register and you have to press it again, which can be a bit annoying until you get used to it. The camera has several continuous shooting modes, shooting at 3fps, 5fps or 10fps for a maximum of 10 frames, as well as auto bracketing.


The autofocus system is very fast and reliable in almost all lighting conditions, and has no trouble focusing even in nightclub lighting levels. For shooting in even dimmer light it has a good AF assist lamp, a bright orange LED with a range of around four metres.


Recent Samsung cameras have shown a welcome improvement in general image quality, and the WB2000 continues this trend, producing superb results time after time. The Schneider-Kreuznach lens is particularly good, producing pin-sharp detail from corner to corner with no trace of chromatic aberration. There is a little barrel distortion at the 24mm-equivalent wide angle end, but it is fairly mild. It is a bit prone to lens flare when shooting towards the sun, but it’s easy to avoid if you’re careful.


Colour reproduction in standard colour mode is a little muted, with a pleasant film-like quality, but it is much brighter in vivid mode. Dynamic range is also very good for a small-sensor compact, producing better results in similar circumstances than the Canon IXUS 1000 HS, another 10MP B.I. CMOS camera which I was testing on the same day. The WB2000 can also shoot in Raw mode, and is supplied with Raw processing software for both PC and Mac.


The biggest surprise however is the camera’s excellent performance at higher ISO settings. Back-illuminated sensors have a higher signal-to-noise ratio and are inherently more sensitive, and the one in the WB2000 produces printable detailed pictures at 1600 ISO. Even shots taken at the maximum 3200 ISO are far from useless. There is a little loss of colour depth at higher settings, but the overall results are very impressive.


”’Verdict”’

Although the Samsung WB2000 is expensive it can certainly deliver the goods, with outstanding image quality and creative versatility, and among of the best high-ISO performance in its class. Build quality is excellent, the AMOLED monitor is superb, autofocus is good in all lighting conditions, and the full HD video with stereo sound is an added bonus.

”Over the next few pages we show a range of test shots. On this page the full size image at the minimum and maximum ISO settings have been reduced to let you see the full image, and a series of full resolution crops have taken from original images at a range of ISO settings to show the overall image quality. These pictures were taken indoors using reflected natural light. ”


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This is the full frame at minimum ISO.


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Image quality at 80 ISO is excellent.


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Unsurprisingly, still no problems at 100 ISO.


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Still very little noise at 200 ISO.


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There are a few blotches on the green channel at 400 ISO, but noise is still minimal.


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Slightly more noise at 800 ISO, but this is still very good quality.


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1600 ISO shows some slight loss of detail, but this is still a printable picture.


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3200 ISO is still good for smaller images.


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this is the full frame at 3200 ISO.


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”A range of general test shots are shown over the next two pages. In some cases, the full size image has been reduced for bandwidth purposes, and a crop taken from the original full resolution image has been placed below it to show the overall image quality. Some other pictures may be clicked to view the original full-size image. ”


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”A range of general test shots are shown over the next two pages. In some cases, the full size image has been reduced for bandwidth purposes, and a crop taken from the original full resolution image has been placed below it to show the overall image quality. Some other pictures may be clicked to view the original full-size image. ”


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Here’s the usual detail test shot of the West Window of Exeter Cathedral, for you to compare with other cameras. See below for a full res crop, or click to see the whole picture. File size 4.65MB


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The level of detail is excellent for a 10MP camera.


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The lens does produce some barrel distortion at wide angle, but it’s not too severe.


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Centre sharpness is very good.


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Corner sharpness is superb.


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”Here are some general test shots to help evaluate the camera’s overall image quality, including dynamic range, colour rendition and the zoom range of the lens. Some pictures may be clicked to download the full size original image. ”


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The wide angle end is equivalent to 24mm.


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The telephoto end is equivalent to 120mm.


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Dynamic range is very good, even in this very high contrast situation.


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Colour is a little muted, but nicely balanced.


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Macro focusing is quick and accurate.


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Exposure metering is also very accurate.


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Trusted Score


Score in detail

  • Value 7
  • Image Quality 9
  • Build Quality 9

Features

Camera type Digital Compact, Digital SLR
Megapixels (Megapixel) 10 Megapixel
Optical Zoom (Times) 5x
Image Sensor 1/2.4-inch high-speed CMOS
Optical focal length 4.3-21.5mm in 35mm film terms
Shutter speed 16 secs - 1/2000
Auto focus TTL Auto Focus (Center, Multi, Selection, Manual Focus, Face Detection, Object Tracking), Movie AF
Manual focus Yes
Max output resolution 3648x2736
Other resolutions 3648x2432, 3264x2448, 3648x2048, 2736x2736, 2592x1944, 2048x1536, 1920x1080, 1024x768
Focus range Wide: 50cm to infinity, Tele:80cm to infinity
Exposure control Program, Aperture priority, Shutter priority, Manual, 12 scene modes
Exposure metering Multi, Spot, Centre-weighted
Exposure compensation +/- 2EV
Image Stabilisation Optical
ISO settings Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
LCD Monitor 3-inch AMOLED
Viewfinder N/A
Flash range Wide: 0.2 to 4.4m, Tele: 0.8 to 1.8m (ISO Auto)
Flash modes Auto, Auto & red-eye reduction, Fill-in flash, Slow sync, Flash off, Red-eye fix
White balance modes Auto, daylight, cloudy, fluoro H/L, tungsten, custom, manual dial-in
Drive modes 10fps, 5fps, 3fps, Precapture, Single, Interval, 10 sec, 2 sec, BRK
Image formats JPEG, RAW
Picture adjustments Multiple filter effects, RGB manual, Contrast, Sharpness, Saturation
Video (max res/format) 1920x1080, 30fps, H.264 format, stereo audio recording with optical zoom
Movie length Card capacity
Self timer 10/2 secs
Memory card slot SD,SDHC
Supplied memory Approx 15MB
Batteries supplied 1130mAh Li-on
Charger supplied Yes
A/V output PAL/ NTSC
Charging/Computer Connection Yes
HDMI Yes
Manual Multi-lingual basic guide, full manual on CD

Physical Specifications

Dimensions Width (Millimeter) 99.5mm
Depth (Millimeter) 59mm
Weight (body only) (Kilogram) 153.3kg

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