The latest innovation in the digital camera space ,and this time Samsung has gone completely overboard. Imagine what you will get if you cross a full fledged super zoom camera with the Samsung Galaxy S III. That’s exactly what the Galaxy camera is, except you can’t make calls with it. Let’s find out what this highly-converged gizmo has in store.
Design And Features
At 300 gm with a body about 1.5 times the size of an average point-and-shoot, the Galaxy Camera is a whooper of a digital camera. Its hefty, and the massive lens sticks out about half an inch. Although it’s possible ,you definitely don’t want to stuff it in your pocket and walk around. we have seen mega-zoom cameras with more compact bodies ,but the reason for the massive shell may be large 4.8 inch display or over sized guts, or both. This is the first time we have seen such a large display on a digital camera, but the applications call for one. It’s a luxuriously large view finder and photos and videos look great on the 720p display.
It has the same specifications as the Galaxy S III: a 1.4GHz quad-core processor along with 1GB RAM and a Mall-400MP GPU. The battery compartment at the bottom houses a microSD slot to expand the 8GB of internal memory and a micro-SIM slot for 3G support. Connectivity options include Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Apparently ,Samsung wanted to concoct a camera that could share high quality photos and videos, while doubling as a media player and mobile internet device. You can download apps from play Store to add versatility to the camera. Apps for editing photos and videos are bundled, in addition with usual Google apps.
The large lens is the most dominant part of the camera after the screen. The focal length is 23mm (35mm equivalent) at the widest end and goes up to a good 481mm, which translates to 21x optical zoom. The largest aperture at the wide and telephoto ends are f/2.8 and f/5.9 respectively- way better than the f/3.2 and f/6.3 you get with super zoom cameras. It has a CMOS sensor with a resolution of 16 megapixels. The flash is a pop-up type; it has to be raised using a tiny button on the left. A motorized mechanism to automatically raise and lower the flash would have been great, especially in Auto mode.
Samsung has gone with a minimalistic design . the top just has the zoom lever and shutter release. A 3.5 mm jack for headphones and a micro USB port are located on the right side. An HDMI port, covered by a tiny flap, is located at the centre of the battery compartment.
Build Quality And Ergonomics
The build quality of the shell is excellent-the camera feels like a solid block of plastic. The touch screen is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass, which makes it highly resistant to scratches. Thankfully ,there are no glossy surface, which will help fingerprints and scratches at bay. You only have to keep the display clean, for which a piece of microfiber cloth should be enough.
Despite its monolithic design ,camera looks good. But that’s all there is. The bulge around the grip is too less for a comfortable grip. And despite a textured rubber grip, the design does not inspire confidence for single handled operation at all. If you have even slightly larger hands, you will find your curled fingers are hardly in contact with the grip and you will want to use both hands rather than risk having to bury the camera in your back yard.
As for user interface , it’s brilliant-it should actually be educational for digital camera manufactures of cameras with fully touch-operated interfaces. The implementation of the PASM ,scene and video modes is just too good-its functional, intuitive and extremely easy to use . the layout of the UI is for right handed use. The camera icon above the large mode button is for releasing the shutter using the touch screen, and the camcorder icon immediately starts recording video. The mode button brings up three modes-auto, smart and expert. Smart mode is nothing but the scene mode, but many of the presets are different from the usual bunch you get in point and shoot cameras . Some of presets include light trace(for getting light trails using long shutter exposure), silhouette, waterfall, Rich tone ,Best Face(best shot from a burst of 5 shots), panorama and sunset.
The expert mode has the PASM mode, which is not as daunting to use as with super-zoom cameras, where you need to tinker with the D-pad and dials. Here the virtual dials for ISO ,EV ,aperture and shutter are displayed next to each other. You change the values simply by swiping your finger up and down . obviously , the dials that can be used depend on the select modes. For example program mode allows only you to change the ISO and EV, and the Aperture priority mode does not allow you to change the shutter speed. Other settings such as white balance, focus, drive mode, self timer and metering mode, quality settings and resolution settings are available via the Settings icon on the top left corner. Some of the commonly used settings are additionally available via the quick menu , which slides open on touching the ‘>’ icon next to the settings icon. On opening the quick menu, you will find a tiny microphone icon, which is for voice commands. Its not very handy, but it is fun to use at the risk of looking a little stupid or being laughed at if your commands are not registered properly. Videos are recorded at full HD resolution (MP4 format) and you have the entire range of optical zoom at your disposal while shooting.
The Galaxy is as snappy as the Galaxy S III. The touch-wiz UI is smooth as butter without any lag. It is excellent as a portable media player and mobile internet device. However , as it is primarily a digital camera , what’s most important is the quality of photos and videos it captures As it comes at a price that can buy you a DSLR or an enthusiast class digital camera. It is very fair to expect a similar level of performance. But the quality of photos this camera took failed to impress us. They look excellent on the camera’s vibrant display or when scaled to the monitors resolution very good for sharing on social networks or online photo galleries . but the flaws stand out when photos are viewed at full resolution without rescalling . even at the lowest ISO , the results were grainy and lacked fine details. At ISO 400 , the results are as grainy as you had get with a prosumer camera at ISO 800. And at ISO 800 ,the photos are blotchy with lots of artifacts and color noise .
The overall quality of photos is similar to what you had get with any entry-level point and shoot or a high-end smartphone. The quality of video recording was good, but not exceptional-again, the same as what you had get with a high-end smartphone. You have to pan very slowly to avoid jitter and the video was a tad noisy.
What About The Price?
The Samsung Galaxy Camera is no doubt an outstanding concept, but the question is , do you need such a smart camera? Or would you be better off with a DSLR ,a premium compact or a super zoom digital camera and still be left with a few thousand bucks? If you want great-looking photos along with the ability to share them instantly on social networks, you had be better off with a high-end smartphone, except that you will have to compromise on the optical zoom. At least, the smartphone will fit in your pocket and you will be able to make calls. Considering the features set, the Galaxy Camera is not overpriced at $556.14. But from a photographer’s perspective, for whom image quality is paramount , it does not quite make the cut.
Price : $556.14
Dimensions (WhxHxD) :128.7 x 70.8 x 19.1mm
Weight : 300g
Resolution : 16MP
Focal length : 23-481mm
Display : 4.8 inch, 1280 x 720
Video : 1080@30fps
CPU : 1.4 GHz quad core
RAM : 1GB
Storage : 8 GB
Android Os : jelly bean