There are very few ultra-compact cameras that offer the amount of control over your photos that the £230, 12-megapixel Samsung WB1000 does. You can play with shutter speeds and apertures; adjust the white balance, colour and exposure beyond presets; tweak sharpness, contrast and saturation; and more. The combination of features makes it a fine pocket camera for digital SLR users, as well as those simply looking for a broad-featured point-and-shoot snapper. Don't expect the photo quality and performance to measure up to dSLR standards, though.
The WB1000 has an upscale design suited to its price tag. The all-metal chassis has a pleasing weight to it, and a textured grip on the right both looks and feels good. Adding to its beauty is a gorgeous 76mm (3-inch) AMOLED display that's very bright and presumably better for battery life than an LCD.
On top are two analogue gauges: one shows remaining battery life, and the other shows the available space on your SD/SDHC card. Also on top is a small power button surrounded by a blue light, a shutter release, and a sunken shooting mode dial. The dial is exposed at the back for easy changes with your thumb. Below it on the back is a lever for the 5x zoom of the 24mm-equivalent wideangle lens. Further down on the back are a menu button, navigation dial/directional pad, and playback and function buttons.
The function button brings up a context-sensitive shooting menu, and pressing the menu button pulls up an attractive interface for access to all shooting functions, sound, display and settings. The whole system can be navigated quickly using the dial. For more control, you can use the directional pad beneath the dial.
The only weak part of the design is the proprietary jack on the bottom for data, power and AV output. A USB cable is included for charging from a wall outlet or computer, as well as an analogue cable for connecting to a TV. But you'll have to shell out for a cradle if you want to connect by HDMI. This isn't unusual, but it does take away from the package as a whole.
The WB1000 is overflowing with shooting options of all degrees of adjustability. The 'smart auto' mode automatically chooses the appropriate camera settings based on 11 scene types. Want to pick your scene type? There are 13 to choose from, including a 'frame guide' option that lets you compose a shot, capture part of the pre-composed scene on-screen, and then hand the camera off to someone else to take the picture while you get in the shot. Those who don't want to touch any settings can put the camera in 'auto', which prevents most options from being changed.