Samsung WB700: Missing the Bus?

 

Samsung WB700

Samsung WB700

18x zoom in a compact body—does the Samsung WB700’s performance match its extensive feature set? Neha Mutreja puts it to test.

Exactly two years ago, I had tested the Samsung WB550. It was a basic compact camera that offered 10x zoom and performed really well. I remember having a lot of fun while shooting with that camera. Now, while the same camera has been refreshed twice, I could not help feeling excited when I received the Samsung WB700 to test. On the face of it, the WB700 has several new features, but there is a lot more that has actually changed.

Features
First things first, though the camera is roughly the same size, it packs in a lot more zoom. The WB700 has an 18x zoom range with an extremely wide lens that starts from 24mm. This means that you can shoot varied subjects from architecture or landscapes to wildlife, if required. This is the first time that a camera of such a large zoom range is practically pocketable, so that is exciting.
The WB700 has a bit of everything for every kind of user. It has a Smart Auto mode for casual users, and a fully functional Manual mode for those who wish to exercise some creative control. It also has a Smart Filter option, which has effects like Soft Focus, Half-tone Dot, Defog, along with some commonly seen features such as Fish-eye, Miniature and Sketch. While these effects can be fun to play with, they make the already slow performance of this camera even worse.
The camera offers only 720p HD movie recording, which is a little disappointing. After all, there are so many cameras nowadays that shoot Full HD video. Moreover, some of the Smart Filters that are actually fun, cannot be used while shooting video.

Handling
The WB700 fits well in one’s hand and the strap provides a good, firm grip. The menu system is a little different from most other manufacturers and you may need to dedicate some extra time to understand it. Moreover, due to the overall slow processor, the menu is not very responsive and one can get lost in it quite easily!
The camera has a dedicated button for video recording, a C or Custom button and also another customisable Fn button. The 3-inch LCD screen shows good colours and can be used easily even when shooting in bright light.

Performance
I used this camera while exploring Banganga, a sacred tank in Mumbai, surrounded by temples that are over four hundred years old. The life around the place is completely unlike Mumbai and is, in fact, quite laidback. Unfortunately, the camera was equally laidback in terms of its performance.
The autofocusing speed of the camera did not impress me at all and is not as good as other compact cameras in the same price range. Moreover, the camera is pathetically slow when it came to the processing speed—both in terms of writing the image to the memory card as well as the fl ash recharge duration. This performance is far slower than most other compact cameras we have tested.
One wonders whether the extra 16MP resolution is a little too much for the camera’s processor to handle. The overall lag got me quite irritated—especially when I was shooting in busy, dynamic and crowded situations.
The colours produced by the camera are quite rich. However, at high ISO settings, the image quality suffers badly. The camera performs excessive noise reduction that leads to softening, and on the other hand, there are halos formed due to oversharpening. The camera also shows heavy flaring when shooting against the light. Fringing, on the other hand, is well controlled.

Conclusion
The company may brag about fi tting an 18x zoom lens in a small body, but what is the point of features like these when the camera takes a long time to even shoot a single photo? With a price of almost Rs. 16,000, one wonders how anyone can justify spending an amount like this on a slow camera that offers average image quality. There is no doubt that the other camera manufacturers have better camera models in the market which are not only feature rich, but also perform better. Steer clear and look elsewhere.

Final Ratings
Features
Art filters, 720p video recording, Manualmode
25 /30

Performance
Heavy flaring, slow shot-to-shot speed
22/30

Build Quality
Feels sturdy, less bulky
13/15

Ergonomics
Customisable interface
10/15

Warranty & Support
2 years warranty, 75 service centres.
5/10

OVERALL: 75%
Value For Money: 2/5 stars

Tags: 18x Optical Zoom, Compact body, Neha Mutreja, October 2011, Samsung WB700, Superzoom compact