Although Samsung has made a lot of progress in design, build quality and specification it still has some way to go in overall performance. The WB5000 starts up fast enough in just under three seconds, but the single shot mode shot-to-shot time of nearly four seconds is pretty slow. In continuous shooting mode it can manage just under a frame a second, but the shooting rate is erratic and slows down noticeably after eight shots.
The autofocus system is also somewhat slower than most of its competitors, although it is still pretty quick by most standards. Low light focusing is slower still, but it is reliably accurate. The AF assist lamp has a range of around three metres. The pop-up flash is quite powerful and has good frame coverage even at wide angle. It has a recycle time of approximately six seconds after a full power flash.
The WB 5000 is powered by a 3.8V 1130mAh lithium ion rechargeable battery, which should be powerful enough, but it is moving a lot of glass around whenever the zoom control is operated. Samsung’s official spec sheet doesn’t list any tested battery duration, but I found that after a full charge the battery indicator was down to one bar after around 100 shots, which is a bit worrying.
Another area where Samsung needs to do some more work is overall picture quality. The quality of the Schneider Keuznach lens is very good with excellent edge-to-edge sharpness, and the software distortion control means that even at the wide-angle end there is no visible barrel distortion. The sensor is of the small 1/2.33-inch type, and dynamic range is very limited, with very little shadow or highlight detail. The camera has a Dynamic Range Optimiser feature, but it’s not particularly effective, only boosting exposure to increase shadow detail, and colour saturation is also rather lacking. There are also some problems with image noise, or rather noise control. There are distortions in colour gradients and visible noise at 200 ISO, and significant loss of detail at 400 ISO. The 3200 and 6400 ISO high-sensitivity settings are available at lower resolution (5MP and 3MP respectively) but the image quality is very poor.
For a first attempt at a superzoom camera the WB5000 is a very good camera. Design and build quality are excellent, it a list of features comparable with its market rivals, and like most Samsung cameras it is competitively priced. Its only weak points are its overall performance and its mediocre image quality.