updated 10:50 am EDT, Tue September 1, 2009
(Updated with US info) Samsung today added a ultra-zoom to its compact cameras. The semi-pro WB5000 (HZ25W in the US) centers on a 24X, 26-624mm equivalent stabilized lens that can compose super telephoto shots while still having wide-angle coverage for much closer distances. Unlike some of its peers, the 12.5-megapixel camera skews more towards veteran photographers with RAW shooting in Adobe's DNG format as well as manual controls up to and including the choice of the color temperature for white balance.
In an unusual move, Samsung has decided to abandon an optical viewfinder in favor of an electronic alternative. However, it does bring 720p, H.264-encoded video capture and carries software features that can be useful to most, such as Samsung's Smart Album sorting for time taken or attributes, face recognition and smile detection.
Shipments start this month in Europe and Korea for the equivalent of about $566. A US release is slated for October, when the HZ25W ships for $400.