Mobile Devices

April 04, 2013

Samsung Galaxy Camera Review

I’ve always been a big fan of photography, even from the days of the disposable camera. I love to capture moments and memories and share them with others. I am continually amazed as the capabilities and features of digital cameras improve every day. Over the years, I’ve gone through my fair share of digital cameras; from Kodak’s first AA battery-powered camera to my Nikon D5000 DSLR and the Olympus waterproof, shatterproof and freeze-proof camera. My latest is the Samsung Galaxy Camera.

I’ll admit; I was a little biased before I even got my hands on the Samsung Galaxy. I was really interested in the 4G connectivity and integration to apps, including social media. But, my bias did not compare to how impressed I am with the features and quality this camera offers.

Samsung launched the Wi-Fi version of the camera today in the U.S., which is available for $450; $50 less than the mobile data version. Now that users have options when it comes to choosing the Samsung Galaxy Camera, I figured they could use some insight into what it’s like to own and use one.

First Impressions

“This thing is heavy!” The camera is a small device for the capabilities it offers, but it isn’t a lightweight. The design definitely exemplifies the mix of a Smartphone and digital camera – at first glance, you would definitely look at it and classify it as a digital camera. Looking at it from the back, however, I commonly hear, “Is that a camera?” The screen is huge and offers all of the apps on Android.

The screen is just short of five inches, offering a display of 308 pixels per inch, and the quality is great. Like, really excellent. The 16.3-mexapixel camera’s HD display makes photos extremely clear and high quality. Users have standard shooting options, such as auto, program (“Smart”) and scene modes, but they also have the option to have full control of shooting with manual mode – they can control the shutter speed, aperture, ISO and exposure, just like on a DSLR.

The camera runs on Android Jelly Bean OS 4.1, which was a new experience for me. I’ve been an avid Apple user since 2008, so while I had to get used to the interface, it didn’t take long. Kudos to Android; your operating system is pretty easy to use and understand, and it offers a lot of flexibility in customizing the interface. I’m not ready to switch teams, but at least I dipped my toes in the water!

One thing I noticed (and I think this is for all Android devices in general, not just the camera) is when you take a photo with flash you won’t see what the photo actually looks like until you go to review it. For other digital camera and OS users who are accustomed to seeing a review of the photo for a few seconds immediately after taking it, this is kind of annoying, but not a deal breaker; just an observation.

Features, Specs and Results

The camera comes with a microUSB port, 3.5mm headphone jack and a lanyard loop, plus a speaker and a flash button. The bottom has a hatch for the battery, microSD card (up to 64GB), SIM card and a mini HDMI port.

It has a back-illuminated CMOS sensor capable of delivering 4,608x3, 456-pixel images. The aperture stretches from f/2.8 at its maximum to f/5.9 when the zoom's at full. The shutter speed is variable and stretches from 16-1/2,000 of a second.

The camera comes with a set of 65 editing features, such as for automatic face-calibration and red eye. You really don’t need to ever plug this in anywhere, except to charge the battery.

There is also voice control for the camera, which I haven’t yet played around with enough to be comfortable. You can take a photo by saying one of four commands, “smile,” “cheese,” “capture” or “shoot,” as well as direct the camera to record a video or zoom in and out.

The zoom is probably my favorite feature the camera offers. On my iPhone 5, I never use my zoom. Digital zooms, like the ones found on most phones, significantly affect the image quality by just spreading the pixels. The zoom on the Samsung Galaxy Camera is amazing.

To illustrate this, I recently went to see Kip Moore, a country artist, at Webster Hall in NYC. If you’ve ever been to the venue, it’s small, but you’re definitely still not within range to get really good close-up photos of the artist on stage. Or, that’s what I thought.

Here is a photo of Kip Moore from my iPhone 5 (no zoom) from where I was standing throughout the concert:

Here is a photo of Kip Moore from the Samsung Galaxy Camera (zoom, but not even to the maximum) from the same spot:

I repeat: The zoom on the Samsung Galaxy Camera is amazing.

How Much Longer Will We Use Digital Cameras?

For me, the answer to this question is “forever.” However, as cameras on Smartphones continue to increase in quality, how much longer will the majority of users need or even want two devices that can take photos? The Samsung Galaxy Camera is basically a phone – it has almost every capability a Smartphone does, without the ability to call and text someone. As the integration continues for both Smartphones and cameras, when will they finally merge into one for good?

If you’re still interested in having two devices for photo taking and you want one that takes high-quality images, I definitely recommend the Samsung Galaxy Camera. I think the Wi-Fi version will be a lot more popular among consumers just because it has the connection capabilities without the cost of a data plan.

Visit the Samsung Galaxy Camera website to learn more.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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