The Samsung Galaxy Camera finally arrived for testing, its judgment day and you will all hear what we android lovers though about it today. As far as first impressions go, we got the feeling we were before a weird device: a great looking outside, like a model, with the brains of an engineer. Reality tells us such this is rare, and most of the time these mix ups don’t go well. Will the Galaxy Camera be one of these cases?
This is an innovative device that seeks to create a new market segment: a Smartphone/Camera hybrid. With this Samsung seeks to innovate, but with a price tag this high (500€) can they get to everyone in the market?
For this new market Samsung is following the same steps as Apple did with the iPhone: both start with a new risky device for which there are no previous tests or opinions on how successful the device can be. How well can it fare?
The Galaxy Camera is the first digital camera that offers full connectivity to the world around, through WiFi, Bluetooth and 3G. Guess what runs the whole machine? What controls everything in the Galaxy Camera is Android 4.1, turning it into much more than a point and shoot digital camera. When you combine Android with these connectivity options you find yourself before a digital camera and tablet hybrid, which we will call a Camlet, lets see if that sticks.
We can’t consider wireless connectivity a new thing when it comes to digital cameras since the first came in 2005. We can’t consider Samsung to be the first brand to use this kind of connectivity, but they were the first to build a digital camera that seems to fall into everyone’s good graces when it comes to sharing in social networks. When you look at the technical specifications of the Galaxy Camera you will also see that Samsung tried very hard to reach the top of the “point and shoot” digital camera market.
With a 1.4 GHz QuadCore the camera quickly reacts to touch in its 4.7-inch screen. On that same screen you will be faced with the Touchwiz interface, which is extremely easy to use, making it easier on the whole user camera interaction. All the software is very intuitive and functional, independently of the task we are executing on the camera: checking our email, check a web page, take pictures, etc.
Design and Build Quality
In the segment of “point and shoot”, the Galaxy Camera presents itself as one of the biggest, with dimensions of 128.7 x 70.8 x 19.1 mm and weighing just about 300g. The design of the camera is as simple and clean as it can get, following the guidelines of the Galaxy line. The 4.7’’ Super Clear HD LCD, fills up all of the back of the camera, giving a clear and full portrayal thanks to the color depth and color spectrum.
On the front you have the objective, capable of capturing pictures of 16.3 MP. This works in harmony with the BSI CMOS, guaranteeing an optical zoom of 21x. Even thought the lens shrinks as much as it can, miracles aren’t possible and this takes the thickness of the camera up to 19mm, and thus taking the possibility of keeping the camera in your pocket out the window. Samsung already took that into account, so when you buy the Galaxy Camera you get a little bag to keep the camera safe, but we think that they could also have taken into account that a white camera would not go well with a brown bag.
When it comes to protecting the screen you can be assured it has been taken care of by the two included screen protectors. Even though this protector may protect your screen, and do a very go job at it, it might as well degrade the quality of the image. We can’t attest to this fact as we weren’t able to test the screen protector provided by Samsung.
Controls and Ergonomics
While the majority “point and shoot” digital camera producers have been worrying about making their devices smaller and smaller, Samsung put that worry aside and on account of that the Galaxy Camera arrived as the biggest camera on that market. The major culprit of this is the 21x optical zoom capable lens.
The camera has a rubberized spot where you are supposed to grab the camera that is useful in order to balance the weight of the camera and at the same time control it in order to keep it from falling from your hands. The rounded shape of the spot where you grab the camera is easily adjusted to your hand, and the only thing lacking is a spot to place your thumb when you are taking quick pictures with just one hand.
Physical buttons is something that doesn’t appeal to Samsung when it concerns their devices, and that is noticeable in this camera. Besides the power button, you have the shooting and zoom button and a button that enables the flash. All the other existing functions of the Galaxy Camera can be accessed only though the touch screen. All the physical buttons, except for the flash releaser, are placed on the top of the camera.
Samsung Portugal, which as provided us with Galaxy Camera for testing, seemed to want to drive us crazy as they brought us the device without any battery left. After the excellent way they presented the camera in the box, all we wanted was to turn it on and start playing with it. But we had to wait until it had enough battery to turn itself on.
After getting up to a little over 50% we had the opportunity to connect with the camera and start evaluating every menu and capture mode that the Galaxy Camera has to offer. After a brief configuration, usual in all Android devices, we started taking pictures.
Any DSLR user will look for manual configurations in this device, that can be used to take better pictures, and they will be amazed with the capabilities of the Galaxy Camera. The interface provided by Samsung is capable of surprising any user, being that until today there isn’t a “point and shoot” out there capable of offering the same user experience as the Galaxy Camera, and this is where Samsung scores points. Many other brands forget about improving user experience and as such their products seem to not fare as well as others, as user experience still is the most important factor when it comes to succeeding or failing in the markets.
Most of users and fans of “point and shoot” cameras simply go past this configuration possibility and goes straight to Auto and Smart mode, and for that kind of user the Galaxy Camera has several, 15 in fact, intelligent capture modes as well as 15 image effects. When using the intelligent modes it is possible to find the best photo, best face, light trace, waterfall and silhouette. On account of effects you can find vintage, black and white, comic, retro and impressionist. In manual mode the traditional configuration modes are available, including the aperture and shutter priority, being that these are totally manual. Exposure compensation is available at 1/3 steps.
In order to edit the pictures, the Galaxy Camera has a range of features that makes it possible for you to step over the obligatory computer image edition before sharing them. Overall you have 65 available edition resources that allow you to make any post-production job you need. Organizing the pictures is easy as using the Smart Content Manager makes it possible to create folders, tag faces and view the pictures in the most variable ways.
The Galaxy Camera also has several voice commands available, you can tell it to zoom in, out, show timer or take a picture, and those tasks will be performed. Although this capability exists we think many of those commands are easier and faster to execute through touch than through voice as with the latter you have to wait for the command to be recognized and only then will it execute. This seems features seems to be one of those that are pretty cool to hear about but when it comes to a daily basis use, you will never choose them over the basic way of executing them.
It is difficult to tell if there is a screen better than that which was put into the Galaxy Camera. With 4.77 inches this screen has 308ppi, which is pretty remarkable.
Not all is good and as every screen this has a major fault that comes in a form of reflection. The solution to this might be in the camera’s box, in the form of a screen protector, that besides protecting your screen against every day aggressions might also be able to reduce the reflection.
Overall the screen behaves well outside, being that the only thing at fault is the lack of a luminosity screen in order for the brightness of the screen to automatically adjust itself. Besides that minor hindrance we are always in the presence of a screen that gives a great image portrayal in any environment.
In order to analyze performance in mobile devices, as tables or smartphones we recur to benchmarks. Since we are in the presence of a Camlet this was not the best way to test for performance, as most users will not buy the Galaxy Camera for gaming or making phone calls.
When it comes to user experience we are faced with a device that takes only 15 seconds to turn on, when fully shutdown, and only 1.5 to wake up from sleep mode and be ready to take pictures. This is not the fastest readiness time in the “point and shoot” market but we are not dealing with a simple camera, we are dealing with a Camlet, where we also have to wait for the OS to startup.
As far as taking picture goes, the Galaxy Camera behaves remarkably well. The autofocus had a good response in every situation it was tested in. In well-lighted environments the focus worked pretty quickly and well and the pictures taken are comparable to other pictures taken from other cameras in the “point and shoot” market. In poorly-lighted environments you will have a challenge if you try to focus with the zoom at a maximum. In the latter conditions you will notice a blur left by the flash in the captured image, which is typical in cameras with an aperture of f/5.9.
The flash behaved well in a regular sized room, keeping the skin tones regular while also doing a good job of balancing whites automatically.
The quality of the pictures taken is good, not excellent, but more than enough.
You need to bear in mind that this is a “point and shoot” device, that happens to be equipped with a Quad Core, Android OS and a hand full of applications capable of editing the pictures in the device right after you take them. So we are before a device that has the Hardware and Software capable of adjusting images giving them the final touches we want.
The image quality is good but nothing remarkable, when you take into account the price tag of this Camlet. The majority of users will be satisfied with the quality of the pictures but the more demanding users will look for the quality needed to justify the price tag and may be disappointed. On the other hand, when you put together the capability of taking great pictures, adjust them to your desire and share them, all of this is one device, and receive comments like “Excellent picture” and “I wish I was there, look at that awesome view!” the price tag is worth it.
This is more than a camera, it is a camera with good image quality and which is capable of transforming any user in a great photographer at the same time he is enjoying taking pictures and editing them.
To verify the quality of the photos taken with Samsung Galaxy Camera, check this link.
As the Galaxy Camera is easy to use in order to make great photos, one would expect it to keep the same attitude towards recording videos, and such was done gracefully by Samsung.
The touchscreen has a video button allowing to interchange the functionality between camera to video recording. When you make that change you are then able to record great videos at 1920×1080 at 30fps.
The videos have good quality and the autofocus reacts quickly during recording even when you play with the zoom a little. We didn’t catch any noise related to the camera, zooming in or out, in the recorded videos.
Battery is a major point in these kind of devices, more if you take into account this an Android device with all kinds of connectivity capabilities. We can’t say the battery life of the Galaxy Camera was bad, mas Samsung decided to provide their customers with an extra battery in the box and an external charger for that battery as well. We took around 100/150 pictures and still had enough charge to repeat the stunt three more times.
There’s no doubt that with intensive use of the device, using the edition software provided ou even several connectivity options to share the captured images you will find that the battery will last less than what we reported, but we were positively surprised.
- Two batteries and charger included
- Two screen protectors included
- Android OS
- Good image quality
- Price tag
- Big for the “point and shoot” market
- Non dust tight lens
The strong point of the Samsung Galaxy Camera, that which sets it apart from all the other “point and shoot” models is all the technology and connectivity put into the device. This reaches out to the social network fanatics as it makes it easier for them to share their pictures and videos almost instantaneously.
By putting Android in the device Samsung made all the difference, as you can install whatever applications you want in it and thus allow you to make the most out of your device and turn it into more than a simple “point and shoot” camera.
Build quality and endurance are other favorable features.
The price tag is a little over the top and will definitely make you think twice about adding this gadget to your Android collection. At around 500€, besides all the technologies included and the good quality of the camera, it is not at everyone’s reach.
Now answering the question we made in the beginning of this review, Will the Galaxy Camera win you over?, well the answer is yes, it wins you over by many little things, but it would never be added to our list of devices on account of the excessive price tag.