Tim Coleman tests Samsung’s latest travel compact, with 14.2 million pixels and an 18x optical zoom
Image: The 18x optical zoom is equally able to capture wide vistas and telephoto images
There is no doubt that the WB700’s wide zoom lens is a big selling point, and I enjoyed its range in a number of situations. It takes almost 4secs to zoom between each extreme. I found I could achieve sharp images at 1/60sec with a steady hand, and even 1/30sec when resting against a surface. Samsung’s dual IS mode is designed to help reduce the effect of camera shake, particularly nearer the 432mm end of the focal range. In this shooting mode there are no exposure controls, but it is possible to achieve sharp images at 1/15sec.
My main concern was the 14.2 million pixels crammed onto a 1/2.33in (6.16×4.62mm) sensor. I found the image quality on the whole to be fairly standard for a camera at this level, which is impressive given the wide range of zoom, and the smart auto mode generally selects the most appropriate exposure settings. The quality of the images at telephoto settings is good, although generally image detail in JPEG files is a little soft and smudgy, and benefits from a bit of sharpening in post-production.
As with previous models in the WB series, the ISO range of the WB700 remains at ISO 80-3200. This is a wise decision because images at ISO 3200 are very noisy. In fact, noise becomes quite evident at ISO 400. Generally, I opted to stick to ISO 100 for optimum image quality. At this setting, resolution detail reaches 20 on our charts, which is good for a camera of this level. Also, there is ample detail recoverable from dark shadow areas, but at higher sensitivities this renders greater levels of noise.
Videos are possible at 720p, and Samsung claims to have audio noise-reduction technology for the zoom on videos. There is certainly minimal noise, but in quiet situations it is still audible.