The WB500 has a 2.7-inch monitor with a resolution of 230,000 dots. It has a nice fast refresh rate and is certainly sharp enough, and also has automatic brightness control. The screen cover, which appears to be scratch-resistant, cuts down on reflected glare and the picture is clearly visible even in bright sunlight. The monitor does have one niggling fault however; it has a nice wide angle of view in every direction except downwards, so if you hold the camera over your head, say to shoot over a crowd, you can’t see what you’re pointing it at.
In common with Samsung’s other recent cameras, the WB500 features USB charging, with the battery charged inside the camera. This is very convenient if you travel with a laptop, since you only need to take one battery charger and the camera’s special USB cable. The camera does come with a mains charger, but it charges quite quickly while connected to a suitable USB socket.
The control layout is typical for this type of camera, with a fairly chunky mode dial on top, along with a rotary zoom control around the shutter button and the illuminated power button. The controls on the back are more unusual. On the thumb grip is a small and rather fiddly rocker switch which is used to adjust either exposure compensation in automatic mode, or the shutter speed and aperture in manual mode. The WB500 is one of the few cameras in this class to feature manual exposure, although in truth it is quite limited, with only a choice of minimum or maximum aperture and shutter speeds from 16 seconds to 1/1500th of a second, but any manual control is better than none at all.
The other controls consist of three small buttons and a standard circular D-pad, all labelled in a nearly invisible metal-on-metal embossed style. The main menu is really only for basic settings, most of the shooting functions, such as metering and AF modes, ISO settings, white balance and drive mode, are controlled via a function menu activated by the “Fn” button, while the “E” button brings up another menu with a very wide range of picture controls, including contrast, saturation and sharpness, full three-channel manual colour control, and a useful range of pre-set photo effects. There aren’t many compact cameras that offer this degree of creative control. It’s just a pity that the actual physical controls are so poorly designed.
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