We reviewed the really tiny ultra compact - Fujifilm A100 - last week; moving from that tiny critter to this week's bulky mammoth - the Samsung WB500 - was quite a size jump!
The WB500 is 105 x 61 x 37 millimeters in size, which fits it into the compact (rather than ultra compact) camera segment. It weighs a whooping 249 grams, which is heavy. The reason behind this though is the camera's powerful zoom lens, but let's leave that discussion for a bit later.
The camera hosts a powder finish metallic, dark gray, plastic exterior and is curved lusciously. The entire body's 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. Nested besides the lens, is a small textured rubber grip for your right hand's middle and ring finger, giving you that extra bit of grip and comfort while yielding the camera.
Even the shutter button's 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's placed neatly around the shutter button, and is easy to access. Besides it sits the metallic mode dial with a textured rim that helps you change modes with easy. The power button rests on the other side of the shutter button, and it hones the glowing blue ring (when your camera's powered up), giving it that snazzy high-tech look. Call me shallow if you like, but I just love the way this blue light looks.
Moving on - the facing side of the camera has a unique toggle towards the 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 the three buttons - function, effect and preview. The effect button is a cool feature that allows you to add really good effects such as warm, cool, forest, retro etc. looks to your pictures before they're taken. Apart from that, you can pick from a plethora of styles including the standard sepia, black and white, amongst others, and tweak your sharpness, brightness, contrast settings on the fly as well.
Besides these buttons there's a 3-inch LCD display that hones 460,000 pixels, which is far denser (hence gives more detailed output) than the standard 270,000 dots screens you see on most compacts.
While its bulk makes it really hard to fit the camera in your pocket, the WB500 exudes style and ergonomics, while being tough and sturdy as well.