Like many of Samsung's compact cameras, the 10.6-megapixel WB2000 looks utilitarian when viewed from the front. Even the wide-angle, 5x optical zoom, which is more versatile than most, looks small and stubby. But don't stop reading just yet. Viewed from other angles, it becomes clear that something special is afoot with the WB2000. It's available for around £300.
Two dials that resemble fuel gauges sit on the camera's top. One indicates the camera's remaining battery life and the other reveals how much storage space is available on the inserted SD card. These dials give the camera a dash of retro cool.
On the back, Samsung has fitted a searingly sharp, 76mm (3-inch) AMOLED screen. The result is a more life-like image than usual. The screen really raises the camera above the level of the ordinary snapper. We used the camera mainly in bright sunlight and didn't miss an optical viewfinder -- the screen is as bright and clear as you'd hope.
The WB2000 weighs 153g (excluding the supplied battery, and an SD/SDHC card) and boasts dimensions of 100 by 59 by 22mm. It's very portable.
The WB2000 powers up in 2 seconds. A zoom lever encircles the shutter-release button, and, to its right, sits a shooting-mode dial, with a ridged edge to prevent slippage.
Give this dial a twist and a virtual version appears in tandem on the screen, with a brief explanatory line at the bottom for each setting, so the user needn't take their eyes off their subject.
The zoom takes just over 2 seconds to travel steadily from maximum wide-angle to extreme telephoto, soundtracked by the faintest of motor noises. This, happily, means that the zoom can be fully accessed in both stills and video modes.
While most owners will be happy to leave the camera in 'smart auto' mode, and concentrate on accurate framing rather than fiddling around with functions, the WB2000 also offers a degree of real photographic control that belies its pocket dimensions.
For example, there are program, aperture priority, shutter priority and manual settings, along with dual image stabilisation to prevent blur resulting from camera shake in low light and at the extremities of the zoom. There's also a light-sensitivity range stretching from ISO 80 to ISO 3,200, to suit differing lighting conditions. Completing the shooting options are scene and 1080p video modes.
There's even the option to capture raw files, along with super-fine, fine and normal JPEG compression settings. You can shoot raw files at the same time as JPEGs too, a feature usually found on digital SLRs, and -- more unusually still -- you can do this at each of the three JPEG compression levels. This makes the WB2000 a real contender for dSLR owners who want a portable back-up.