Another landmark in the unrelenting evolution of the digital camera was reached this week when Samsung announced two 12.2 mega-pixel point-and-shoot digital cameras with 15x optical zooms. The top of the line camera, to be known as the WB650 in Europe and the HZ35W in the U.S., sports a 3.0” AMOLED display, Dual Image Stabilisation (both optical and digital image stabilizers), a GPS (for geo-tagging) and 720p video at 30fps. It’s a stunning achievement to fit all this into a compact camera body just 30mm thick and with the PMA Show approaching, one wonders if this camera will still be winning the “mine’s bigger than yours” contest a month from now. Expect it in the showroom in March.
Now the rate at which we are seeing new capabilities squeezed into cameras of ever smaller size, there’s no doubt some photographic parallel to Moore’s Law going on here. Just a decade ago the digital photographic market was in its infancy, yet now we have point and shoot digital cameras capable of fitting in a cocktail purse which can shoot high def landscapes and offer supertelephoto capabilities.
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The WB650/WB600 (HZ35W/HZ30W) both carry a 24mm ultra wide angle which extends into a 15X optical zoom. The cameras’ high-performance Schneider KREUZNACH lenses have an optical image stabilisation system which compensates for hand trembling by shifting the lens in the opposite direction of each movement. When the optical image stabilisation system isn’t quite enough, the digital image stabilisation system automatically takes over to ensure virtually blur-free images.
The WB650 (HZ35W) has a 3.0” AMOLED display is brighter and sharper than traditional LCD screens and can even be viewed in direct sunlight. An AMOLED screen offers improved battery life, higher contrast ratio, more vibrant colours, and can be reviewed at any angle while fully maintaining the same colour resolution.
The WB650 (HZ35W) comes with a built-in GPS to tag the images with the exact location that they were taken. The camera displays the name of the city and country and also has a visual map-view feature, so you can check the photos’ location on a map without having to upload the images to the Internet.
The WB650/WB600 (HZ35W/HZ30W) both record video at 720p resolution at 30fps using H.264 compression along with HDMI connectivity, which allows the camera to be connected directly to an HDTV without the need for a cradle.
Both cameras come with Samsung’s advanced scene recognition technology, Smart Auto, which has been upgraded to be used with video as well as with still images. Similar to the way the technology analyses the composition of an image to select the best scene mode when capturing digital stills, the technology will do the same for video, automatically choosing between one of four pre-programmed settings and selecting the setting that will yield the best footage with proper exposure and colour balance.
No weight has yet been quoted for the cameras, though the dimensions have been released: 106.6 x 60.5 x 28mm