Samsung has announced a superzoom compact camera that brings us the best of both worlds, in more ways than one: the 10-megapixel WB500. It's called the HZ10W over here in the States, where we got our sticky fingers on it at CES 2009.
First off, the WB500 is trumpeted by Samsung as the world's first model to combine 24mm wide angle with a 10x optical zoom. That means you can zoom in further, and zoom out wider, than any other compact. The 10x zoom puts the WB500 in the bottom end of the superzoom category, but it's way more pocketable than the average superzoom brick. So you get a versatile zoom and a compact package. Lovely.
You also get high-definition video, optical image stabilisation and smart scene recognition, all in a package that may be familiar to fans of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5. With the Lumix G1 putting interchangeable lenses into a body the size of a superzoom, and Samsung attempting to ape the success of the compact TZ5, are we seeing the beginning of the end for longer-zoom superzooms?
Face detection is joined by the useful blink-detection feature, and the less useful smile mode. The vain will appreciate beauty shot, as also seen in Casio cameras, which retouches faces for a brighter and smoother skin tone.
Another interesting new feature is the angle/composition guide. This allows you to snap a picture you want to be in, then hand the camera to someone else. Your image is ghosted over the live view screen, so friend, policeman or random passer-by is sure to get the picture you want.
The WB500 will cost £229 and will be available later this month, compete with two-year guarantee.
One of our favourite parts of the Samsung WB500 is the handy rocker switch on the top right. Looks like the zoom control, right? Nope, that's up top. This switch gives you fingertip control over exposure compensation. Nice.