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The Samsung WB550 is a wide angle megazoom compact

The Samsung WB550 is a wide angle megazoom compact

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Published by chigong1
The WB550, or Samsung HZ15W as it’s known over the water in the US of A, also packages together 720p HD video and an HDMI output for best use of your HD recordings.
The WB550, or Samsung HZ15W as it’s known over the water in the US of A, also packages together 720p HD video and an HDMI output for best use of your HD recordings.

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Published by: chigong1 on May 28, 2009
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06/14/2009

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Samsung WB550 Review
Introduction
The Samsung WB550 is a wide angle megazoom compact – the first compactcamera to introduce a wide 24mm lens with 10x optical zoom (24-240mm). TheWB550, or Samsung HZ15W as it’s known over the water in the US of A, alsopackages together 720p HD video and an HDMI output for best use of your HDrecordings. So, wide angle, big zoom, compact size – is the Samsung WB-550 theideal all-encompassing wide angle zoom compact for any scene at hand? The WhatDigital Camera Samsung WB550 review investigates…
Samsung WB550 review -Features
Samsung’s picked a trick with the WB550.24mm wide angle, but with a 10x zoomtoo? To date that’s the widest angle 10xzoom lens to hit the market, and ought toappeal to those looking to shoot wideangle landscapes, 50mm portraits or evenpicking subjects from afar.The Samsung WB550 marries thecompany’s Dual Image Stabilisationsystem into the package too, helping toensure your images stay sharper whenconditions and low light become moredemanding. This can be used alongsidemany scene modes, despite the WB550having the IS mode as a standaloneoption on the top thumbwheel too – just soyou can be sure; if not a littleunnecessary.As high definition becomes more and more popular, and an increasingly importantselling point, Samsung has invested its HD technology into the WB550. Capable of shooting 720p HD video at 30 frames per second, the WB-550 even utilises the
 
H.264 codec (MPEG 4 part 10). This may sound geeky, but it’s a very good way of encoding video files at equally high quality to previous compression types, but with amuch smaller file size. Perfect for saving space and sharing files without the fuss of transmitting gigantic amounts of data.The Samsung WB550 supplies scene modes – including Smart Auto, Auto,Programme and Manual – in abundance; ensuring the right mode for any occasion.The dominant modes are available via a quick rotation of the WB550’s topthumbwheel, whilst some simple menu-digging will reveal the more specialist options(such as ‘Café scene mode’). The manual mode is a nice touch, though with thelimitation of only a couple of apertures on any occasion it’s only a little more sugar-coated than the P mode’s already decent offering.Whilst Samsung has introduced an OLED screen to the WB1000 series, the WB550,contrary to a number of reports, does
not 
add this to the spec sheet. Perhapsdisappointing, but the 230K dot 3in LCD is more than ample and, for this price point,it seems unlikely that an OLED screen would be added to the equation.
Samsung WB550 review - Design & Performance
For all its merits, however, the Samsung WB550 unravels itself somewhat by itsdesign. Primarily it’s the placement of the flash that undoes an otherwise stronglooking spec sheet – it’s placed to the right, exactly where your fingers go to restwhen shooting. The result is that, when using flash in low light, your fingers will blockthe flash, thus obscure half exposed snaps are commonplace. The shutter button isplaced on the WB550 body in such a fashion that it becomes an issue to not cover the flash when pressing – it’s a flaw that’s been thoroughly overlooked by the designteam. Tut tut. Furthermore the battery flap can be very easily slid open, which canbecome an issue when storing in a tight pocket, given it can flap open uponretrieval... Precarious indeed.On the upside the thumbwheel – for selecting scene modes – clearly illustrates your selection on the WB550's LCD screen. Face, smile and blink detection all feature.The standard wide/tele zoom function on top of the camera is effectively responsiveand the lens feels stable at all zoom ranges. The body is sturdy and, whilst relativelybulky, is of a sensible size considering the zoom prowess that the WB550 offers.This is all dressed in a tidy black or grey finish with elegant silver-like buttons andcontrols, along with the power button’s blue illumination. All in all its an aestheticimprovement over the previous NV series, but the new layout struggles and menusare less intelligible - an oddity, given it would make sense for the design to pushforward rather than taking a step back.The WB550 has a rechargeable battery which can be charged in-camera - whether wired to a plug socket or, by conveniently removing the plug head, a USB cable(which, admittedly, is absurdly short) can be popped directly into the computer. AnHDMI port on the camera’s left side allows for convenient HD output too – be thatimages or 720p video (as shot in camera at 30fps).
 
The Samsung WB550 has an excellent 24-240mm zoom range, which is further enhanced by an excellent macro mode and even the option for manual focusing.Usually only top of the line (i.e. expensive) compacts come with such a focusingbenefit and it can make a great difference when creatively composing macro shots. Samsung WB550 review - Macro manual focus (click for fullsize image gallery)Performance is good throughout the range, though in low light scenarios the WB550can struggle (perhaps no more than most standard compacts though). Most notablyin testing all modes became confused by bright lights and over-saturated someimage areas. Dual image stabilisation did assist in many circumstances, though itcan only be relied on in dim light rather than a significant absence of.

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