Samsung WB700 review (Pocket-lint)


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The latest example in the 18x optical zoom WB700 which, alongside the WB750, follows on from the 15x WB600 earlier in the year and looks utilitarian in a Russian tractor factory sort of way.

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Samsung WB700 review (Pocket-lint)

  1. 1. Link: WB700 reviewBest value travel zoom on the market?27 September 2011 17:31 GMT / By Gavin StokerThe "travel zoom" market - meaning pocket compacts with extended lens reachesbeyond, lets now say, 8x or more - has really taken off in recent years, with Panasonicsall-conquering Lumix TZ series, and recent TZ20 iteration, leading the pack. However itscameras arent the cheapest. Enter Samsung with its WB (Wide and Big) series ofpocket cameras, aiming to deliver both that longer lens reach as well as better value formoney.Design and specificationThe latest example in the 18x optical zoom WB700 which, alongside the WB750, followson from the 15x WB600 earlier in the year and looks utilitarian in a Russian tractorfactory sort of way. But commendably it doesnt feel cheap - even with a current streetprice of £165, considerably less than the original £250 asking price. Dimensions are99.5 x 59 x 21.7mm, so, though not the most slender contender out there it will squeezein a pocket without too much trouble, weighing a manageable 203g.Theres not much in the way of an actual proper handgrip, but there is a gentle curve tothe faceplate that at least hints at one, while two raised slats at the back equally preventthe thumb from sliding about.
  2. 2. As is increasingly the case with compact cameras, there is no separate mains chargerincluded in the WB700s box. Instead we get a mains plug into which slots a shortprovided USB cable, the other end attaching to a vacant port on the camera. Thisobviously means that if you did decide invest in a spare battery, the camera would stillbe out of action each time you needed to recharge it. However it could be argued that atthis lower end of the market its hardly an issue.Were pleased also to see the WB700 has stuck with the SD card as its media of choice,as recent models such as the SH100 have opted for the tiny and fiddly microSD as in itssmartphones.The solid feel WB700s lens starts out at a usefully wide 24mm and, with a nudge of thezoom lever that surround the shutter release button, arrives at a 432mm (35mm equiv.)4-5 seconds later. Its optically image stabilised to avoid the blurring effects of camerashake from hand-holding towards the telephoto end of the zoom, and we were able toget some good results in normal daylight at this setting. With a maximum lens apertureof a so-so F/3.2, the headline stills resolution is 14.2 megapixels from a 16-megapixel1/2.33-inch CCD, which suggests some pixels have been lost in the mix somewhere,and theres high-def video here too.Press the power button and the Samsung readies itself from cold for the first shot in 2seconds, lens extending to maximum wide angle setting followed by the rear LCDblinking into life so the shot can be framed up. A half squeeze of the shutter releasebutton and theres a brief moments visible adjustment before the image snaps into focus,green autofocus square appearing on screen with a bleep of confirmation that the user isgood to go and take the shot.Controls and performanceYoud expect there to be few manual controls on the WB700 and while thats the casethere are at least some. The eight-option shooting mode dial that sits atop the camera,nestled between the power button and the shutter release encircled by the zoom lever,includes not only the fall-back of a subject-recognising Smart Auto option for pure pointand shoot operation but also the creative quartet of program, aperture priority, shutterpriority and manual settings.More expected perhaps is a dedicated camcorder-style video record button top right ofthe backplate, where it readily falls under the thumb as you grip the Samsung in the righthand. Press the red button and filming commences, conveniently no matter which modehas been selected on the top plate dial. The progress of the zoom in this mode is slowand steady, which lessens the effect on the (mono) audio of the mechanical buzz of itsadjustments, plus Samsung claims it has also deployed noise-cancelling technology tofurther lessen any such distraction.
  3. 3. Whatever the tool were pleased that at least the optical zoom can be used when filmingvideo, which isnt always the case. Even more of a surprise for a budget model is that anHDMI output lurks under a flap at the side for hooking the camera up to your flat paneltelly, though the required lead isnt provided. Apart from the aforementioned plug andUSB cable, users merely get a quick start manual, software CD and wrist strap in thebox.The now ubiquitous digital effects filters, arguably started by Olympus with its MagicFilters and Art Filters on its own compacts, also make a fresh showing on this Samsung,as "Smart" filters. On board the WB700 are the comic book like halftone dot that makesa change from what everyone else is offering, plus, alongside that, what everyone elseis offering in perspective warping fish eye and miniature modes, reducing everything tomodel village scale through selective blurring.Surprisingly for a budget model with an expansive focal range, the Samsung WB700delivers good edge-to-edge sharpness, for the most part avoiding softening toward thecorners even at maximum 24mm equivalent wide angle setting. Colours really leap offthe screen too on their default setting, and the images appear uniformly sharpenedwhich can lead to an overly crisp digital look. Still, this does ensure that anyone whowants to merely point and shoot can do just that and come away with eminently usableresults that require little if any post processing, except perhaps brightness adjustmenthere and there.Verdict
  4. 4. Not quite stunning yet far from terrible, for those point and shooters looking for a bigzoom on a £150+ budget, but not a big camera to go with it, the pocket-sized WB700from Samsung should fit the bill. OK, so not all its specs are high end - theres no FullHD video, and we dont get the likes of integral GPS that rival (albeit pricier) models arenow offering. But certainly the results from this camera suggest that the WB700 is aboutmore than making do, and for the current street price we can have very few quibbles.ScoreReview RecapMA D E B Y SamsungP R IC E A S R E V IEW E D £249.99LA T E S T P R IC E Compare pricesT H E GO OD Expansive focal range in a compact chassis, affordable, easy to use, one touch video recording, HDMI output port, collection of manual shooting settingsTHE BAD Uninspiring black boxy design, no Full HD videoQU IC K V E R D IC T This is a fuss free way for those on a smaller budget to get that must-have big zoom on a pocket camera. OK, so it may not be the most elegant looking camera ever nor does it have the top end specs like Full HD video, but for the price we have very few quibbles with the Samsung WB700KEY SPECS 14 megapixels, HDMI, Li-ion battery, SD, SDHCSCORE