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By Mike Joubert 18 September 2009

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Samsung’s 10 megapixel WB500 might not be the world’s most stylish camera, but its plain black body hides some very interesting features. For one it contains a Schneider-Kreuznach lens with a super 10x optical zoom. The lens can also go wider than your average lens starting at 24mm. So not only are your closely cropped zoom shots covered, but also your wide-angle landscape pics.

Dual Image Stabilisation
When you are out hunting game with an ultra-zoom lens you need a lot of light to prevent image blur. Samsung included Dual Image Stabilisation, combining both optical and digital stabilisation, to help with low light shots without having to resort to the flash. We found the feature particularly useful in indoor situations, especially since the flash tended to overexpose.

Beauty Mode
A feature that will go down well with female users is Beauty Mode. This feature proves that the camera can lie, as it removes blemishes from subjects’ faces and gives an overall smoother skin tone. It worked well and left our photo model more than impressed. While the HD video at 720p (not full HD at 1080p) is impressive with frame rates at 30 per second, we picked up some nasty background noise while recording. It might just be our test unit, but this noise left us less than impressed. 

Not user-friendly
The WB500 is not the most user-friendly camera we’ve ever tested. You won’t figure out a feature like Smart Album, an interesting option for sorting your images, without reverting to the manual. Some of the camera’s functionality is also tucked away in the menu structure. The different scene mode options for example can only be selected by going into the menu once Scene is selected on the top dial. The inclusion of the Command Lever is an interesting touch, but we hardly made use of it to change the White Balance, ISO or exposure, and we highly doubt the intended target market will either.

Although image quality was good and the zoom worked like a charm, we never really felt comfortable using the WB500. Little things like the positioning of the flash, where it can be obscured by fingers, niggled us and ditto for user-friendliness. The WB500 is an above average compact, but with a bit more attention to detail Samsung could have made it an excellent one.

PROS
wideangle and 10x optical zoom, Beauty Shot is interesting
CONS
Not very userfriendly, flash is inconveniently placed, noise on video recording
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