Travel zoom compact cameras offer the best of both worlds – a pocketable size and a host of features, which, in this case, include a wide zoom range. Samsung’s WB700 supersedes the WB600, bringing a slimmed-down look, more pixels and a wider 18x optical zoom, which equates to a class-leading 24-432mm.

Build and handling

There have been a few tweaks to the body design, but the WB700 is similar to its predecessor. It is made from a conventional tough plastic with a smooth finish, which is expected from a camera at this level.

In fact, it is very similar to Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-TZ20. At 24.9mm, the body is 20% thinner than Samsung’s earlier WB models, although with its contoured grip and lens it measures closer to 33mm deep. Meanwhile, the grooves that help the thumb grip the camera have been moved from a fairly natural place to a slightly awkward position on the right edge.

All buttons are well placed, although I find their build quality a little on the flimsy side. A function button provides access to key controls, and while the custom button is set to exposure compensation as default, it can also control ISO or white balance. PASM control is via the dial on top, although when using one of these modes the camera has a tendency to prompt the user to switch to the smart auto mode, which can be frustrating.

Users familiar with more highly specified Samsung models will soon get used to the WB700. It offers a similarly intuitive menu, and can display the histogram in live view and post-capture. Likewise, there are plenty of controls both pre- and post-capture, including the ability to apply all smart filters to still images. However, some smart filters, such as ‘old film’, are not possible with the video mode.



Image:  The 18x optical zoom is equally able to capture wide vistas and telephoto images 

There is no doubt that the WB700’s wide zoom lens is a big selling point, and I enjoyed its range in a number of situations. It takes almost 4secs to zoom between each extreme. I found I could achieve sharp images at 1/60sec with a steady hand, and even 1/30sec when resting against a surface. Samsung’s dual IS mode is designed to help reduce the effect of camera shake, particularly nearer the 432mm end of the focal range. In this shooting mode there are no exposure controls, but it is possible to achieve sharp images at 1/15sec.

My main concern was the 14.2 million pixels crammed onto a 1/2.33in (6.16×4.62mm) sensor. I found the image quality on the whole to be fairly standard for a camera at this level, which is impressive given the wide range of zoom, and the smart auto mode generally selects the most appropriate exposure settings. The quality of the images at telephoto settings is good, although generally image detail in JPEG files is a little soft and smudgy, and benefits from a bit of sharpening in post-production.

As with previous models in the WB series, the ISO range of the WB700 remains at ISO 80-3200. This is a wise decision because images at ISO 3200 are very noisy. In fact, noise becomes quite evident at ISO 400. Generally, I opted to stick to ISO 100 for optimum image quality. At this setting, resolution detail reaches 20 on our charts, which is good for a camera of this level. Also, there is ample detail recoverable from dark shadow areas, but at higher sensitivities this renders greater levels of noise.

Videos are possible at 720p, and Samsung claims to have audio noise-reduction technology for the zoom on videos. There is certainly minimal noise, but in quiet situations it is still audible.


Like many travel zoom compact cameras, the WB700 is incredibly versatile and packed with solid features, and it offers fairly standard image quality.

It is a reasonably priced camera, but the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20, while more expensive, offers a better feature set and is the better option for now.