In 2006, over 88% of the digital cameras produced by the Japanese camera makers were shipped to the overseas market. Put in a layman’s term, nine out of every ten cameras were sold outside Japan then.
That’s the old statistics. It is probably well beyond that percent now. The advantage is that the economies of scale make the digital cameras cheaper yet more feature-laden.
The reason for mentioning this is that the Samsung HZ30W (WB600) is now a companion to my two GX200 at a price of just HK$2,200 (roughly US$280 or UK£200) which include a 8GB class 6 SD card, a mini-tripod and other usual free stuff. Given the 24-360mm Schneider lens and the stereo HD videoing capability (lens can be zoomed; recording can be paused; plus various shooting settings can be customised), the camera is almost unbeatable. Well, it has PASM modes too.
That said, it is made to a very different end than Ricoh's CX3. Samsung's is packed with a wide array of playful functions to cheer up potential buyers, while the CX3 is more focused on ergonomics and controlling to suit the more serious photographers. But it is a shame that the CX3 does not have manual mode or shutter priority mode which is needed especially for the 300mm focal length.
By the way, you must have noticed that the Big Site has published a compact superzooms group test. The HZ35W (WB650), the higher-grade brother of this new purchase, has got a "recommended" alongside the Casio FH100. The CX3 scores a very low mark. First, honestly, the difference in image quality and so on is minimal for the similarly small-sized sensors
Second, I suggest you make your own conclusion instead of buying their comments about the IQ for the pixel-peeping crops. The comments are fairly opinionated to my eye.
Third, the strategies of the camera makers are not the same. I mean, take for example Samsung's HZxxW (WB) series. They come without a proper battery charger (just a USB cord and AC adapter) or a user's instruction (only on CD) or a HDMI cord. The workmanship has left much to be desired. When I tested them in the shop, the HZ35W (WB650) has a defocusing problem for 100% of the shots while the HZ30W (WB600) froze after making adjustments to the settings. That says something.
But, we all know: look at the price. It is cheap. Samsung is surely trying hard to edge out the competitors and achieve further economies of scale. It is fighting so fiercely in both the P&S and the serious compact markets.