Most superzoom cameras serve as a half-way point between compact cameras and digital SLRs, and the WB5000 features the extensive creative options of the traditional “bridge camera”. It has the option of aperture priority, shutter priority and full manual exposure control, with three stops of aperture control and shutter speeds from 16 seconds to 1/2000th of a second in increments of 1/3EV. Exposure control is adjusted by a rotary bezel on the D-pad, which is not one of my favourite control options but in this case it does work well, with a nice positive action and just enough tactile feedback to work. The menu system is similar to the WB500, and is very clear and easy to use.
The other controls are also well thought out, with separate buttons for exposure lock and exposure compensation, and a dedicated button to instantly start video recording. The zoom control is a rotary bezel around the shutter button, and is a little jerky, but it has a dual speed function allowing careful framing.
As one might expect from one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of LCD panels the monitor is good too, very clear and bright with a good refresh rate, but it has a reflective plastic cover which does make it difficult to see in bright sunlight. The LCD viewfinder could also be a bit better. The resolution isn’t really sharp enough to check focus and it also lacks dynamic range, with very little shadow detail.
The video recording quality is excellent, as is the audio quality. The stereo microphones are mounted just above the lens barrel, but despite this they don’t pick up much noise from the zoom motor. Picture style colour modes are available in video mode. Clips are limited to 20 minutes and are are recorded in MP4 format.