Android OS into a Camera to make things more social, is nothing new as Nikon was the first brand doing so, with its Coolpix S800c but it was too limited, and was having the Gingerbread OS. Samsung introduced something new to the World way back during the IFA 2012 in Berlin, but it was shadowed by the over-hyped Samsung Galaxy Note II which came into existence during the same time. The Samsung Galaxy Camera is what we are talking about, which isn’t just a digital camera but much more than that. None of the digital cameras yet had an option of connecting to the Internet via Data network, but Samsung has broken all the barriers and made that possible too, apart from the Wi-Fi connectivity, and most of the credits goes to the Android OS. Read below for the entire review of the Galaxy Camera!
Design, Form Factor and Display
Not merely a digital camera, not a smartphone with an incredible camera. Samsung has made a hybrid with the lens projecting out just like the lens of a few models of Panasonic Lumix and the Fujifilm Finepix S2950, but on the back side, the screen doesn’t limit itself to just the photo settings and the gallery. The Galaxy Camera looks just like a smartphone when viewed from one side, but is a little bulky from the other. The classy feel is majorly because of the Matte White finish on the lens side where the fingers curl over it. Of course there is metal on many areas but that’s what would keep the camera sturdy and strong.
Credits to Samsung for bringing out a product that has unique stuff, and that too not just for the sake of it. Everything included works perfectly and the feel is very comfortable with the thickness being somewhere around 2 cm at the thickest point. The right side has the matte finish, primarily for the firm grip when you hold the camera, and the corner in the right has a MicroUSB socket with the cover over it, and a pin for the tag and the 3.5mm headset jack.
The bottom side of the Galaxy Camera has got a slide-and-lift cover for the battery and a 1650 mAh standard smartphone Li-ion battery pushes itself out, and just beside it is a Mini HDMI port. On the either side of it, are the MicroSD card slot, and the MicroSIM card slot (yes, micro SIM so that you can connect to the Internet using the Data Network). Beside the cover is a tripod mounting screw hole and the camera information.
The left side has got a very small netted area of speakers, and a dedicated button for pushing the flash out on the top. The huge touchscreen has kept very little need for the physical button, thus what you see on the top is just the power/lock key and along with that, the shutter key with the zoom dial around the shutter, just like in most of the digital cameras.
The presence of Gorilla Glass and the Metal body isn’t really enough to make this camera withstand a fall, and so you would need to use at least a wrist strap when handling it. The front side has a neatly raised “GALAXY” written on the bottom left side, and the Samsung logo lies next to the huge lens, and the 4.1-86.1mm 1:2.8-5.9 23mm lens comes to a thickness of 35mm from one end of the camera to top of the closed lens.
The flash is embedded into the camera, and pops out only when you need it to, using the Flash key. That’s the only ugly looking part for us in the Galaxy Camera, as the rectangular flash looks odd and makes the Galaxy Camera look totally different.
Display – Finally, keeping itself apart from the league of Digital Cameras which have the standard 3-inch screens and most of which are not aided by a touch interface, and have a lot of physical keys for assistance. The screen is a huge 4.8-inch Super Clear LCD, and Oleophobic (resists the fingerprint), looking similar to the Galaxy S III screen, and having a Gorilla Glass coating. The display has got a screen resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels, and is very neat, absorbing the sunlight to keep it very bright and providing amazing previews for the captured pictures.
Samsung has made the brightness set to auto-correct and it would rise as the surrounding background is bright, but that would eat the battery at the same time.
Overall, Samsung has made one of the beautiful devices lately and that too, a camera and not a smartphone. But they kept the camera good at looks and functioning, but safety from breaking should be a big concern, as the bulk of 305gm would break the display quite easily. Just a little precaution taken, you would be holding one of the best gadgets in hand to capture your best moments.
Camera Capture Quality – Effects, Zooming and Interface
Zooming to 21x level is one of the biggest advantages with the Galaxy Camera, and the zoomed in object isn’t totally blurred even on the highest zooming level, at least in the bright conditions. There was a lot of fading when the capturing was tried indoors, but you would rarely want to capture 21x zoomed pictures indoors.
Here’s the first set of Zoomed pictures, from “No Zoom” to 21x Zoom and we saw no loss in clarity except the minimal pixel blur when the zooming levels are increased.
Samsung Galaxy Camera – No Zoom and 1.5x Zoom
Samsung Galaxy Camera – 3.5x Zoom and 7.5x Zoom
Samsung Galaxy Camera – 11x Zoom and 21x Zoom
The camera in itself has got loads of options, and there are automatic as well as manual options to play around with only if you could understand what they are – Auto, Smart and Expert.
- Auto would take everything by itself to understand the surroundings.
- Smart includes the Best Photo, Continuous Shoot, Best Face, Landscape, Macro, Action Freeze, Rich Tone, Panorama, Waterfall, Silhoutte, Sunset, Night, Fireworks, Light Trace and Beauty Face.
- In the Expert section, you can yourself set the ISO levels, the aperture levels and the shutter speed too. This is strictly for the Pro users who understands all these parts, and can manipulate them to capture the best pictures.
There is a small arrow in the camera app, which on clicking would open the various effects that can be used while capturing the pictures, and this replicates the Instagram app, except that here you are capturing with the effects directly. Some of the effects include Sepia, Black and White, Negative, Old Photo, Sunshine, Vintage, Retro, Faded Colours, Nostalgia, Comic, Pastel Sketch, Gothic Noir and Impressionist.
Below are the various effects one could produce while capturing a picture. Note: These would reflect the best changes only when the surrounding conditions are bright.
On Zooming, just like any digital or SLR camera, the Galaxy Camera would need a lot of stabilization and that’s where you would see a need for a tripod. What is annoying while capturing is the big number of clicks you need to do reach any particular setting, and while you have done a few manual settings with the ISO, Aperture and Shutter settings, it won’t be easier again to back to the normal mode.
Samsung has made it hard for the controls, but the way they made it look, the user would be totally interested as the screen gets filled with the round dials covering half of the screen and it is easy to do the stuff and every thing that is touched, would show a small pop-up with the information of what you are going to change.
Android OS – This is what has made things set up well. yes, we are actually talking about an operating system in a digital camera. Android OS has been very well integrated, and it’s the Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean OS we have in the Galaxy Camera. Just like any Android phone, there are many pre-installed applications, including the pack from Google – The Gmail, Search, Google Talk, Google Maps, Google Plus.
Photo Wizard is one of the apps which would make photos a lot different and add annotations, text, comics, objects, change effects, crop and do a lot more stuff. Took no more than a minute to make these changes and the edited photo too got saved instantly.
Video Editor is another good app to edit the captured videos, and add themes to them. The quality of the video is seem hampered with this though. The 1080p video capturing is one of the most appreciable things in the Galaxy Camera and the quality is excellent, with every tiny detail captured, and the preview in the large screen making it look more satisfactory.
The Galaxy Camera could annoy you while capturing photos or videos, when any notification arrives from one of your applications. But Samsung has provided an option where you could tackle all this and without any disturbance, can capture the videos or photos. The blocking mode can individually block the notifications, the alarm and timer or we can block everything at once. One of the good things about this mode is that you can set it for always or can set particular timings when it automatically turns on and off.
There are three home screens, the standard app pages and widget sections with the settings section having all the standard Galaxy device options, like the Wireless & Network, Location, Security etc. The Smart Network mode is a battery saver, and truly a useful one. It would help the device connect to the Internet only when the screen is turned on, and when its idle the connections are turned off.
We’d be sharing various tutorials on how you could do the best of the photography using the Galaxy Camera, but as of now its the review we are limiting to. The option to connect to the Internet using a Micro SIM is quite advantageous, where you can do everything except calling, and we’re sure the developers would bring out something that would make calling possible through the Galaxy Camera.
Battery and Performance
The battery provided by Samsung is a 1650 mAh capacity one, which can be a bit of disappointment when you are traveling and expect loads of captures, and finally left with an option of either keep capturing or sacrificing it if you wanted to connect to the Internet on-the-go. Even on no usage, keeping the Wi-Fi turned on with the background data turned on, the Galaxy Camera won’t last for more than 2 days. We’ll test the battery with continuous video shooting and playback, and only then the battery life can be judged.
Performance wise, we initially liked the way the Galaxy Camera performed and responded well even on continuous app shifting, but the Camera app gave up after we played around with the settings and effects for a few minutes. If this happens after we captured some precious moments, this could be more than just disappointment.
The Galaxy Camera takes things to the next level, and gone are the days when you go on tours, take your digital camera, fill the SD cards and then shift them to the computer after you return, before your friends get to see them. The Galaxy Camera connects to the Internet on-the-go with a superb picture and video capture quality, but the battery should be one thing to keep in mind, although someone like me would take an extra battery (these are available everywhere) when traveling.
But the pricing would be a concern, where you would have to shell around $480 or INR 30,000 to get a hands on the Galaxy Camera. Is it worth the price? For many it would be when they are attending events and wanted to be the earliest to upload the videos they capture. But it totally depends on the need.