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The big picture

tech-reviews Updated: Apr 21, 2009 16:27 IST
Nikhil Singh
Nikhil Singh
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

This compact doesn’t just look great but also offers impressive features, including 10X optical zoom and a powerful manual mode, writes

Nikhil Singh

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Form


The WB500 is 105 x 61 x 37 mm in size, so it fits into the compact (rather than ultra-compact) camera segment. It weighs a heavy 249 g. The reason: the camera’s powerful zoom lens.

The camera has a powder finish, dark grey metallic and plastic exterior and has luscious curves. The entire body is smooth, with no jagged edges, making it one of the most ergonomic compacts around. The grip side of the camera protrudes out more than the rest of the body, and smoothly curves back in on the lens side of the camera.

Features
The facing side of the camera has a unique toggle on top that lets you change f-stop and shutter speed with ease in manual mode. Its functionality is limited though, making it feel like nothing more than a filler for the empty space. Below that lie three buttons: function, effect and preview. The effect button allows you to add warm, cool, forest and retro — among others — looks to your pictures before they’re taken. You can also pick from a plethora of styles including the standard sepia, and black and white, and also tweak your sharpness, brightness and contrast settings on the fly.

Besides these buttons, there’s a 3-inch LCD display that hones 4,60,000 pixels, which is far denser (and hence has more detailed output) than the standard 2,70,000 dot screens you see on most compacts.

The WB500 features a CCD sensor that’s capable of shots of up to 10.2 megapixel. The camera boasts of a zoom lens that’s capable of a whopping 10x optical zoom, which is extremely high for a consumer camera. The fact that it features dual image stabilisation (a combination of optical and digital IS) makes it easy to use the 10x zoom without a tripod, provided your hands are moderately stable.

Ergonomics
A small textured rubber grip is nested besides the lens for your right hand’s middle and ring finger, giving you that extra grip and comfort while wielding the camera. Even the shutter button is positioned perfectly — not too far away from the right side of the camera, and not too close either — just in place for the last link of your index finger to rest on comfortably.

The zoom toggle ring is placed neatly around the shutter button, and is easy to access. It sits on a metallic mode dial with a textured rim that helps you change modes with ease. A snazzy blue ring, which glows when the camera is powered up, surrounds the power button.

Performance
You get all your standard modes with the WB500 — Program, Manual, Dual IS, Night, Scene, Movie and Auto — besides the Beauty shot mode that works really well for profile shots. The camera’s manual mode is what makes it stand out from other consumer cameras — it gives you access to aperture and shutter speed settings. While the auto-white balance was accurate in most places, it tended to be warmer in indoor settings. The camera’s ISO performance wasn’t up to the mark, and image quality started suffering after ISO 200. Night mode was really good though, and the camera managed to capture adequate amount of details, while keeping the image as grain-free as possible in low-light.

The camera’s macro performance was decent, but it could have been better. It didn’t focus on objects closer than 2.5 inches, which is nothing to really whine about, but since most good ultra compacts can manage to do that, it’s sad that the WB500 can’t.

Verdict
To sum up, the WB500 offers a healthy balance of features, a powerful manual mode, and performs adequately in most cases. If you can live with its bulky size and inadequate ISO performance, the camera is a really good buy. The MRP of the camera is Rs 19,990.

http://tech2.in.com/go/65042