Samsung WB500 Review

4.0
July 6, 2009 | Mark Goldstein |

Image Quality


All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 10 megapixel Super Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 4Mb.

Even when left on its normal default colour effect setting, the Samsung WB500 delivers warm, well-saturated images. Whilst this treatment is flattering for portraits, on occasion other subjects are rendered a tad 'hyper realistic', as if torn from the pages of a manga comic.

While the blues and greens of landscapes and the reds of flowers notably leap off the screen, pixel fringing is far more noticeable between areas of high contrast on the Samsung WB500 than on competing brands; here it's not so much purple as mauve and is evidenced without the user having to actually zoom in to check for it. Images therefore look quite obviously digital and 'processed' on close inspection.

When shooting at maximum wide angle there is some slight barrel distortion though not to an intolerable degree. The camera's built-in flash doesn't however quite match the breadth of the range at its extreme setting, and we ended up with darkened corners of the image as our test shots show.

In terms of low light shooting without flash, the Samsung WB500 isn't as good as it's pricier brother, the WB550. It offers a broader ISO range than most, extending from a manually selectable ISO 80 up to ISO 3200, and delivers good perfromance from 80-400. At ISO 800, though, detail is slightly softened and colour is desaturated, although noise is kept well at bay. The fastest settings of ISO 1600 and 3200 are only really usable for small prints and suffer in comparison to the WB550.

Overall then the Samsung WB500 rewards users with a better performance than expected, even if we weren't quite satisfied with the flash, high ISO performance and obvious pixel fringing.

Noise

There are 7 ISO settings available on the Samsung WB500. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting:

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

 
 

Focal Range

The Samsung WB500's 10x zoom lens provides a focal length of 24-240mm in 35mm terms, as demonstrated below.

24mm

240mm

File Quality

The Samsung WB500 has 3 different image quality settings available, with SuperFine being the highest quality option. Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.

12M SuperFine (4.16Mb) (100% Crop)

12M Fine (2.17Mb) (100% Crop)

   

12M Normal (1.58Mb) (100% Crop)

 
 

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are a little soft at the default sharpening setting. You can change the in-camera sharpening level if you don't like the default look.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   

Chromatic Aberrations

The Samsung WB500 suffered quite badly from chromatic aberrations during the review. Purple fringing was mainly present around the edges of objects in high-contrast situations, as shown in the examples below.

Example 1 (100% Crop)

Example 2 (100% Crop)

Macro

The Samsung WB500 offers a Macro setting that allows you to focus on a subject that is 5cms away from the camera when the lens is set to wide-angle. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.

Macro Shot

100% Crop

Flash

The flash settings on the Samsung WB500 are Auto, Auto & Red-eye reduction, Fill-in flash, Slow sync, Flash off, and Red eye fix. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (24mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (24mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Flash Off - Telephoto (240mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (240mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are a couple of portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Auto setting or the Red Eye Fix option caused any amount of red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
   

Red Eye Fix

Red Eye Fix (100% Crop)

Night

The Samsung WB500's maximum shutter speed is 16 seconds in the Manual mode, which is great news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 16 seconds at ISO 80. I've included a 100% crop of the image to show what the quality is like.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Image Stabilisation

The Samsung WB500 has an optical image stabilisation mechanism, which allows you to take sharp photos at slower shutter speeds than other digital cameras. To test this, I took 2 handheld shots of the same subject with the same settings. The first shot was taken with the OIS option turned off, the second with it turned on. Here is a 100% crop of the image to show the results. As you can see, with OIS turned on, the images are sharper than when it's turned off. This feature really does seem to make a difference and could mean capturing a successful, sharp shot or missing the opportunity altogether.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length

Image Stabilisation Off (100% Crop)

Image Stabilisation On (100% Crop)

1/20th / 24mm
1/15th / 240mm

Entry Tags

hd video, compact, 720p, wide-angle, 10 megapixel, 10x zoom, 7 inch LCD, 2, Samsung HZ10W, Samsung WB500

Tracker Pixel for Entry