'Compact Super Zoom' Camera Group Test (Q2 2009)
Samsung HZ10W (WB500)
10.2MP | 24-240mm (10X) ZOOM | $240/£210
One look at the Samsung HZ10W (WB500 in Europe) and it's clear that the Samsung designers studied Panasonic's TZ series pretty closely before sitting down at their drawing boards. The HZ10W is Samsung's first venture into the compact super zoom bracket and comes with a 10.1 megapixel sensor, a 10x zoom and HD video recording capability. While these specs are pretty much in line with the competition in this comparison with 24mm at wide angle the Samsung offers the widest lens of the cameras in this test.
- 10.2 effective Megapixels
- 24-240mm equiv lens with 10x optical zoom and up to 5x Digital Zoom
- 1280 x 720p HD video recording with H.264 compression
- 2.7-inch LCD with 230,000 dots resolution
- Optical Image Stabilizer
- ISO sensitivity up to 1600 (3200 up to 3MP)
- Face Detection, Beauty Shot and Dynamic Range enhancer (Auto contrast balance)
- 14 scene modes
- Program and Manual Exposure Modes
It's probably fair to say the Samsung HZ10W is one of the more attractive cameras here, although obviously this will to a degree depend on your personal taste. The all-metal body and different shades of gray give you the impression to hold a premium product in your hands. From a dimension and weight point of view the Samsung is pretty much in line with the rest of the field (apart from the Olympus Stylus which is quite a bit smaller) and handles very well in your hands. This is helped by the rubberized application on the curved grip and the overall good ergonomics.
All the controls are in the right places and the usual four-way controller gives you direct access to flash, macro, self-timer and display settings. Pressing the Fn button takes you to Samsung's variant of the now ubiquitous quick menu. You could probably argue that the 'E' (effect) button could have a more useful function but the HZ10W's exposure compensation lever makes more than up for this. Pressing the lever immediately applies exposure compensation, no multiple pressing of buttons, no turning of dials, so simple. The only question that remains is why can't all compact cameras have this feature? Better still, it can be customized to offer direct access to white balance or ISO, if you'd prefer.
Overall the HZ10W's feature set is in line with the target competition (read Panasonic's TZ/ZS series). Its 10x lens offers the widest wide angle in this test but therefore understandably is a little shorter at the long end (we'd trade some reach at the long end for more wide-angle any time though). The camera also features 720p HD video, the usual electronic gimmicks such as Face Detection and Dynamic Range enhancer, and offers a maximum sensitivity of ISO 3200 (albeit at reduced resolution).
Image quality and performance
The Samsung is probably the best all-round performer in terms of speed and responsiveness in our tests. It takes a fairly average 1.6 seconds to get started but its zoom speed is in the top half of the group at around 2.3 seconds to go from the wide end to the telephoto. Focus times are also some of the best in this test, averaging under 0.5 seconds for really snappy snapping (though we found it struggled more than some in low light, more on this below).
In review mode the speed of image browsing and magnification is fairly average. At first there is a very slight delay between images but once the thumbnails have been buffered the transition becomes more or less instantaneous.
When you have a closer look at the Samsung HZ10W's images you'll find both light and shade. Exposure is consistently good and requires little to no manual intervention. Highlight clipping does occur on the HZ10W but not to a larger extent than most other cameras. White balance does a reasonable job but is, at standard settings, slightly on the cool side of things (you can change color characteristics in the Photo Style Selector though).
While the focus works reliably and quick in good light we had a larger-than-average proportion of slightly out-of-focus images when shooting indoors and/or in low light. Unfortunately this occurs even when the camera confirms focus lock, so you'll often only realize what happened when you check your images later on the computer screen.
While general image sharpness is good, like previous Samsung compact cameras that we have tested the HZ10W applies pretty strong noise reduction even at base ISO, leading to a smearing of fine textures and loss of detail. This is something that all compact cameras do but the Samsung does it to a larger extent than some others. You won't spot this at a small output size but the larger you print the more likely it becomes that you will. Its much more of a problem at higher sensitivities though, where at ISO 400 already a large proportion of fine detail is destroyed. Higher up the ISO scale some chroma noise blobs are added to the smearing.
Flash exposures are generally good and don't push the ISO too far up. Skin tones tend to come out a little warm but in most situations that is preferable to a pale fluorescent light look.
The HZ10W is Samsung's first stab at the compact superzoom segment, and while the Korean manufacturer got many things right there is also some room for improvement. The optical and electronic components are housed in an attractive full-metal body that features a rubberized hand grip and handles nicely. The HZ10W's 24mm equivalent lens is the widest in this comparison and the user interface is is intuitive, we especially liked the camera's exposure compensation lever that makes manual intervention so much easier.
Image quality is the area where the Samsung engineers still have some work to do. The Samsung's output shows decent sharpness andreliable exposure but struggles with fine detail - even at base ISO - due to extensive application of noise reduction. The high ISO performance is relatively poor as well, with noise reduction smearing and chroma noise blobs creeping in at higher sensitivities. Having said that, you'll have to inspect images at a fairly large magnification to spot the difference to the better cameras in this test and if you're not a 'pixel-peeper' the HZ10W offers a good feature set including HD video at a very attractive price point. Maybe not the best choice for low light (thanks to the image quality issues and focus problems), but certainly a contender for use in more forgiving conditions.
- We like: 24mm wide-angle, good build quality, ergonomic user interface (especially the exposure compensation lever), good operational speed, reliable exposure and flash
- We don't like: Slow lens at the long end of the zoom (F5.8), unreliable focus in low light, heavy noise reduction through the ISO range, poor high ISO performance
I own it
I want it
I had it
I own it
I want it
I had it
I own it
I want it
I had it
I own it
I want it
I had it
I own it
I want it
I had it
I own it
I want it
I had it
|New Forest pony by Dutch Newchurch|
from Equines in 2018
|Leader of the pack by Wu Jiaqiu|
from My Best Photo of the Week
|Czech Crown by Tobik|
from Coins - Macro only
Venus Optics has unveiled four new lenses that will ship later this year: a wide-angle zoom for Sony FE, a circular fisheye for Micro Four Thirds, a wide-angle lens for the medium format Fujifilm GFX, and a 2x Ultra Macro for multiple full-frame mounts.
The One Backpack is a 5-in-1 modular backpack that can be used as a camera bag, work & gym pack, suit carry backpack, travel pack or tech-backpack.
This highly-specialized lens is perfect for sports, action and wildlife photography. Check out these first sample images for a taste of what it's capable of.
For KFC Hong Kong’s latest ad campaign, New York City-based advertising agency Ogilvy and Mather used Photoshop to magically morph pieces of flaky fried chicken into fire and smoke in various scenes.
The Android and iOS app from Surpuba AR lets you place animated 3D models in real-world environment using augmented reality technology. You can alter poses and location, insert lighting equipment, and more... right from your phone or tablet.
Under the agreement, the two companies will work together to develop Oppo's smartphone camera roadmap, covering optical zoom, depth mapping and other innovative imaging features that dual cameras allow.
Canon is jumping into the portable printing game with the new IVY Mini Photo Printer: a rechargeable battery-powered printer for creating 2x3 prints and stickers of your smartphone snaps on-the-go.
The program first launched last year, but only as a temporary promotion limited to previous-generation GoPro cameras exchanged for discounts on current-generation models. This time around, GoPro is accepting nearly any digital camera in any condition.
One of the most usable 360° cameras on the market is getting even better. With its latest update, Rylo adds a 180° mode, bluetooth remote capture, and a cinematic motion blur effect for your timelapse shots.
Phase One has released the first major update to its Capture One Pro 11 photo editing program. The update adds support for 8 new cameras and 16 new lenses, and includes several new features and functional improvements that speed up workflow.
We recently got our hands on Samsung's latest and greatest smartphone, the dual camera, variable aperture Galaxy S9+, and took it to mostly sunny Southern California for a long weekend.
It's spring, and that means wedding season is upon us! If you're one of the many photographers planning wedding shoots this year, this is a great time to think about including aerial photography in your plans.
The first firmware update for the Sony a7 III addresses an issue in video mode wherein "blinking pixels" would show up along the base of footage recorded with certain settings.
Researchers with Switzerland's EPFL have developed a soft exoskeleton that enables its wearer to control a drone using their upper body. The human-robot interface is said to offer "natural and intuitive control of drones."
Photokina has released an official list of confirmed exhibitors for the 2018 expo, quieting rumors that major brands like Canon and Profoto might follow in Elinchrom's lead and skip this year's show.
For owners of Sony's a7R III, a9 and the new a7 III, there's now an easy fix for the rare but dreaded 'striping' in backlit shots with lots of flare. Click through to learn more.
The team behind the ubiquitous JPEG format has unveiled an all new image format designed to quickly and efficiently stream content across wired and wireless networks alike. Surprisingly, it actually uses less compression than traditional JPEG.
Canon USA has released a promotional video showcasing its latest CMOS sensor technology. Albeit over daraticized, it’s an interesting overlook at the work it’s continually putting into its camera systems.
The large-format digital LargeSense LS911 is the "world's first 8x10 digital single shot camera for sale." The camera features a 12-megapixel 9x11-inch monochrome CMOS sensor, which translates into massive 75 micron pixels.
Pricing and availability have been announced for Tokina's high-end Fírin 20mm F2 FE AF autofocus lens for Sony E-Mount. If you're curious about this lens, you'll be able to pick up your own starting in June for $950 USD.
It's the copyright lawsuit that refuses to die. In September 2017, PETA finally settled its monkey selfie lawsuit with photographer David Slater, but the request to dismiss the case has since been rejected by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
As part of his ongoing ‘Good Light’ YouTube series, London-based photographer Sean Tucker has created a simple tutorial on how to find good natural light for portraits.
The 2018 Pulitzer Prizes were announced yesterday, with the photography awards going to photojournalist Ryan Kelly for image of a car plowing into protesters in Virginia, and the entire Reuters photo staff for a series on Rohinga refugees fleeing persecution.
When it was announced in 2016, the Rokinon AF 14mm F2.8 FE was among the first full-frame autofocus lenses for Sony's a7-series mirrorless cameras. We wanted to see how this affordable wideangle prime performs on Sony's latest a7R III.
ARQ files shot using the Pixel Shift mode in the Sony a7R lll—and processed using Sony's own Imaging Edge software—can now be opened and edited in Lightroom Classic CC after the latest update.
Lensrentals put together a very useful overview of all the memory card options out there for photographers and videographers. It covers speed ratings, card formats, and explains everything you need to know to pick the right card for the job at hand.
If you look at the cameras used to shoot the winning photos in the prestigious World Press Photo 2018 competition, you'll see that DSLRs dominated over mirrorless, and Nikon dominated over everyone.
The MindShift Gear BackLight 18L daypack joins the 26L and 36L versions, providing users the same heavy-duty build and convenient rear-panel access in a more portable form factor.
You think you know everything there is to know about Lightroom? Think again. Photographer and YouTuber Jamie Windsor thinks he can still teach you a thing or two.
Skylum Software has released the latest update to its image processing software Luminar. The update improves speed across Windows and MacOS, and brings new features including automatic image distortion correction and a new Raw conversion engine.