Electronics maker Samsung is probably best known for their Galaxy series of mobile phones, but late last year the company decided to expand the Galaxy franchise to encompass a number of products – and not only mobile phones.
As part of their drive to grow the Galaxy range, they launched the Samsung Galaxy camera, much to the excitement of Samsung users. The first thing that users will notice is that the camera operates on Android 4.1.1, which will be highly recognisable to those who have used a Samsung mobile phone.
It goes without saying, but the operating system is identical to those of the phones (TouchWiz), so users will instantly know where to go to change settings, access apps and generally how to work the device. However, once the camera is switched on, users will have to tap the Home button in order to get to the menus.
The device can also connect to the internet by means of Wi-Fi and a SIM card, which makes sharing photos incredibly easy. By default the device comes pre-installed with the Gmail, YouTube, DropBox, Google+ and Instagram apps, as well as apps to access the internet through the Chrome and Opera Mini browsers and Google’s Play Store.
Apart from the operating system, users access all the features through a 720 x 1280 pixels, 4.8 inches Super Clear LCD capacitive touchscreen protected with Corning Gorilla Glass 2.
At the business end of the device, it features a 16.3 Megapixel camera, which can take photos up to a resolution of 4608×3456 pixels. It also has an autofocus and 21x optical zoom – which allows users to zoom in tightly to a subject without losing too much of the clarity.
While it naturally has a built-in flash, users will have to manually engage the flash by means of a small button on the side of the body. It’s not a huge issue, but it would have been a bit cooler if the flash popped up by itself when the flash option is selected in the menu.
The wide-angle 23mm lens allows users to take incredible photos and it also makes it easier for users to capture everything in their sights without having to move around too much to get the right shot – a wide angle means that users will be able to get a lot more into the frame.
Other features include geo-tagging, focussing the image by simply touching the screen, face and smile detection, and nifty optical image stabilization to make sure that users don’t get motion blur on their pictures.
But users won’t be able to only take photos, as the camera can also record videos in full 1080p at 30fps or at a slightly lower 768×512 but a faster 120fps. Both modes are great for video, so it will come down to the users to decide which mode works best.
On the inside, the camera packs a punch. It runs on an Exynos 4412 Quad chipset and makes use of a Quad-core 1.4 GHz Cortex-A9 CPU while using a Mali-400MP GPU. The processor puts it in the same league as the Galaxy phones, which is never a bad thing. For memory, it features 4 GB and 1 GB RAM.
In terms of connectivity, the device features a mini HDMI port, a MP4/DivX player, support for MP3/WAV playback and microSD support for up to 64 GB of extra storage.
But the big question users will be asking is how well does it take photos? The simple answer: very well. The camera fits comfortable in the user’s hand, it’s incredibly easy to operate and the image quality to prenominal. Making use of the device’s Automatic setting in the camera mode, users won’t have worry about the right exposure or aperture, as the camera will take care of everything – even macro photos.
With that said, the camera features a number of Smart pre-set modes, such as Night, Fireworks, Sunset, Best Photo, Continuous Shot and Action Freeze. If users know what mode they would like to shoot in, it’s as easy as selecting the Smart function and navigating towards it.
For the users would like more control, there is an Expert mode where they will be able to manually change the ISO, exposure and the f-stop. What’s great about this mode, is that it can actually teach users how to use the different settings, as the unit indicator turns red when they changed the values that will produce an inferior photo.
In general, the Samsung Galaxy Camera is one of the best compact cameras on the market. Its design is sleek, it’s easy to handle and the image quality is simply superb. It is a bit on the bulky side, but that is by no means a deal-breaker, and there is always a fear that the glass backing will scratch. The camera doesn’t come supplied with a protective case, so it would be advisable for users to get one as well.
Price: approx. $599
Our score: 9/10
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor