Samsung Galaxy Camera review

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Is it a Smartphone? No, you can’t make calls with it. Is it a camera? Not quite, it’s more than that. So what is this latest Samsung’s product – the Galaxy Camera? Samsung describes it as compact superzoom/Android smart device hybrid, and I agree. It’s a previously unseen combination of 21x optical zoom digital camera, 4.8″ touch screen and Android operating system with full Smartphone functionality except phone calls. I had an opportunity to play with it for a few hours, and although that’s not enough for detailed review, it was enough to give me a very good insight about its abilities and image quality.

GENERAL SPECIFICATIONS

  • Announced: 2012.
  • Type: Compact ultra-zoom/hybrid smart device
  • Dimensions: 129 x 71 x 43 mm
  • Weight: 305g (with battery)
  • Sensor: CMOS, 16 MP (4608 x 3456 pixels)
  • ISO range: 100 – 3,200
  • Image stabilization: Yes
  • Dust and moisture protection: No
  • Flashlight: Built-in pop-up
  • LCD screen: 4.8″, 1280 x 720 pixels
  • Memory card: Micro SD
  • Battery: Li-Ion
  • Video: 1920 x 1080 @ 30 fps
  • Connectivity: USB 2.0, mini HDMI, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GSM 3G, DLNA 3.5mm earphones

CONSTRUCTION AND HANDLING

Samsung Galaxy camera is made from rather good plastic. It felt very good in my hand, especially because of pronounced grip shape. Personally, I don’t like to use any Smartphone as digital camera because of their thin shape and inability to get a firm grip during shooting. Samsung thankfully used more of photo-oriented philosophy and the result is very pleasing.

Other than ON/OFF, shutter and zoom buttons, there are no other direct controls. Everything else is set via 4.8″ touch-screen LCD. Galaxy Camera has several shooting modes ranging from full Auto to full manual. When used in aperture, shutter or manual mode, settings are made via animated sliders on LCD. Visually very nice and easy to understand, but they cover most of the frame when used. Also, they appear in somewhat slow slide-animation which slows down general use. Keep in mind – typical user of Galaxy Camera will probably exclusively use Auto mode, so it’s not a big deal.

As far as I tried, Android operating system makes using this camera a very pleasant experience. Many people use their Smartphone as main camera and enjoy a wide range of various applications. The problem – fixed focal length lens and (more often than not) rather bad sensor and optics. 21x optical zoom might be the main reason to buy Galaxy Camera besides having a Smartphone.

All the most popular applications like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter are allready installed, and as far as I am informed, it is possible to run light version of Photoshop on it. This really opens a whole new world…

SAMSUNG GALAXY CAMERA LCD

LCD has a huge 4.8″ diagonal. I cannot think of any other camera with such a big LCD… this is deep outside digital camera territory. This LCD may actually be the best part of Samsung Galaxy Camera. It is very bright and resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels (around 308 pixels/square inch) makes it extremely detailed.

I found myself completely immerged in shooting at one point, that is how good the LCD is. If you felt uninspired using classic digital cameras, Galaxy Camera might be the missing link; framing you shots on huge LCD simply encourages you to take more photos and experiment. Actually, it reminds me of a feeling I had when for a first time I looked through the viewfinder of 6×7 analog camera…

SENSOR

The small 1/2.3″ CMOS sensor has 16 megapixels. Its native ratio is 4:3, but it’s a shame not to use whole surface of Galaxy Camera’s splendid LCD, so I believe most users will shoot pictures at 16:9 ratio.

Sensor performance is on par with competition. Colors are vibrant and the camera seems to deal with high dynamic range scenes quite well. Sadly, noise reduction artifacts can be seen even at base ISO value (ISO 100) but only when viewed at 100% magnification. I don’t know if that’s a big deal; almost all of today’s digital cameras with small sensors have such problems, and I don’t think typical Saumsung Galaxy Camera user will pixel-peep it… Viewed at full screen on PC or printed in small everyday formats, there’s really nothing to complain, as you can see from samples at the end of this Samsung Galaxy Camera review.

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