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Samsung WB750 - Small Camera, Big Zoom

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Small camera, big zoom: Explores Samsung’s latest versatile compact

The latest compact to join Samsung WB-series the WB750 doesn’t herald many changes in terms of many of its specifications; however the improvements that have been made are particularly significant. While the WB750’s 18x optical zoom remains the same as the older model that it replaces (the WB700), the 24-432mm (35mm equivalent) focal range that it provides makes it a perfect travel companion, as well as an ideal camera for photographers who love having the flexibility of shooting anything and everything, without having to lug around a bulky DSLR outfit and several lenses.

What the WB750 does offer over its predecessor is a newly-incorporated BSI CMOS sensor, as well as Full HD (1080p) movie recording capability with stereo sound. The sensor sees a resolution drop – 12.5-megapoxels compared to the WB700’s 14-megapixel CCD however high pixel counts aren’t everything when it comes to image quality: often manufacturers use such measures in order to improve a camera’s low-light performance. In the case of the WB750, the less densely-populated sensor, coupled with the BSI (Backside Illuminated) design, promises better noise control at high ISOs: we’ll get to more on that real-world performance momentarily.

Outdoors the WB750 performs very well, with the AF system being quick to find a positive lock

Outdoors the WB750 performs very well, with the AF system being quick to find a positive lock

Design-wise, outwardly the WB750 doesn’t look all that different from its previous incarnation, albeit a little more robust and less plastic-looking, with more refined controls and a comfortable, rubber-coated front grip replacing the WB700’s somewhat less polished appearance.

The WB750’s top panel remains largely the same, with a refreshed, lightly textures shutter button encircled by a zoom lever occupying the right hand side. To the left, there’s a mode dial proffering a decent range of exposure modes. For point and shooters, the camera’s ‘intelligent’ Smart Auto mode takes all of the leg-work out of the shooting process: aim the lens at your subject and the camera will attempt to identify it, and the pick the right settings to suit the situation. If you’re trying to take a shot in a specific situation and want to be certain that you’ve got the right settings for the job, you can exercise a little more control by choosing from one of twelve different scene modes. As you scroll through the attractive, graphics-based menu you’re presented with colourful icons that relate to each mode, along with a short explanation of what each one does. There’s a de rigueur 3D shooting mode, as well as a pretty effective HDR option, which blends two bracketed shots of the same subject to produce an image with a widened dynamic range.

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A few quirky modes like the skin-smoothing Beauty Shot and creative Magic Frame modes will appeal to Photoshop-shy photographers who want to have a bit of fun with their images in-camera, while Night and Backlight modes prove genuinely useful when used in the appropriate situations. Also on the mode dial is an easy to use Panorama mode, which simply requires you to compose your first frame, and then hold down the shutter release while slowly panning across the scene you want to capture. The camera will automatically fire off a ream of shots in quick succession and combine them to create the finished article. The whole process takes a matter of seconds to execute and a couple more for the WB750 to present the resulting shot on-screen: much quicker than fiddling about in manual stitching programs post-shoot, albeit with less control over the final image.

The WB750 gives you the best of both worlds with high-quality digital photos and Full HD video in incredible depth of colour and detail

The WB750 gives you the best of both worlds with high-quality digital photos and Full HD video in incredible depth of colour and detail

Two further slots are occupied by the camera’s Creative Movie Maker and Full HD movie modes, plus a Dual IS (Image Stabilization) mode that employs both optical (OIS) and digital (DIS – boosts the ISO) measures to help steady potentially shaky shots taken in low light and/or with the lens at its longest focal length for example. Photographers that like to dabble with altering some of the settings themselves can switch to Program mode, or more advanced enthusiasts are created for with the Aperture and Shutter Priority, or Manual modes. The method of operating in each of the advanced modes is a little cumbersome due to the lack of external control dials for altering settings; instead you have to pick your shutter speed and aperture values via an on-scree graphical men. It’s a bit of a long-winded process, however it’s still undeniably useful to have the option of manual control and by including these modes, Samsung has widened the audience that the WB750 will potentially appeal to.

A large portion of the back of the camera is devoted to its bright 3-inch LCD. At 460,000 dots, the resolution is respectable, if not mind-blowing. Colours and detail are good enough for most everyday photographic situations, providing a pretty accurate live rendition of the scene you’re shooting, as well as during playback. The controls are simply styled and laid out, with a handy one-touch movie button nestled right next to a lightly textured thumb grip. The four-way d-pad incorporated shortcuts to the Display, SelfTimer, Macro/AF mode and Flash options, while a surrounding scroll-wheel facilitates faster navigation through menus and images during playback. Four small buttons arranged around the d-pad offer access to the main menu system, playback and Fn (Function) options, plus a button to activate the camera’s continuous shooting mode. The Fn button serves as a quick method of modifying settings like image size, WB, ISO, Focus Area and Metering, to name a select few. The number of options available on-screen varies according to the exposure mode you’re using, with more for you to delve into when working with any of the manual modes, and vice versa when shooting with the automatic ones: a well thought-out feature that saves beginners from having to dredge through options that hold no interest for them.

This compact camera is able to record 1080p full HD @ 30 fps Movies with a maximum recording time of 20 minutes

This compact camera is able to record 1080p full HD @ 30 fps Movies with a maximum recording time of 20 minutes

Outdoors and/or in good light in particular, the WB750 performs very well, with the AF system being quick to find a positive lock. Zooming from one end of the camera’s versatile 18x zoom range is a smooth and relatively speedy process, while added extras like an accurate AF Tracking mode and the previously mentioned Continuous Burst mode which can capture images at an impressive rate of up to 10fps prove to be effective when photographing distant/moving subjects and action-packed situations. Generally, JPEGs taken straight out of the camera present faithful colours and a good level of detail, while an array of Smart Filters including Miniature, Vignetting, Soft Focus, Old Film, Retro (and more besides) are on hand if you want to add some style to your shots, without the hassle of processing them post-shoot.

Noise control is okay, if not outstanding.

It starts to appear around ISO 400, quickly worsening as you boost the sensitivity further, along with softening of detail and muting of colours. Shots taken at ISO 800 remain usable; however the upper settings (ISO 1600-3200) are really best reserved for emergencies.

The new Samsung WB750

Verdict

On top of all of the attributes we’ve mentioned in this review not least the very comprehensive set of automatic and manual exposure modes Full HD movies with stereo sound and HDMI output are further key features that add to the WB750’s appeal. Sadly, there is no RAW mode available on the WB750, however the range of other interesting features like 2D and 3D standard/Panoramic shooting, a long-exposure night-time mode and Creative Movie Maker provide plenty of option to keep photographers busy as their skills progress. The huge focal range offered by this camera’s big zoom lens also makes it a more versatile option than most travel-zoom rivals, although the lack of built-in GPS may be a deal-breaker for some. Nonetheless, as a go-anywhere, everyday family camera or simple-to-use, versatile companion for the budding enthusiast, the WB750 fits the bill perfectly.

Specification

·         Price: $374

·         Megapixels: 12.5

·         Sensor: 1/2.3-inch BSI CMOS

·         LCD: 3-inch TFT, 460,00o-dots

·         ISO: Auto, ISO 100-3200

·         Video: Full HD, 1920 x 1080 (30 fps)

·         Memory cards: SD, SDHC, SDXC, 8.3MB internal

·         Weight: 193.4g

·         Dimensions: 105.3 x 59.4 x 24.9 mm

·         Web: www.samsung.com

·         Total: 8/10

 

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