Samsung Galaxy Camera - what is it good for?

Samsung Galaxy Camera

Yet another new year's promise broken... I promised myself that I wouldn't buy a Android camera.


In all honesty I thought that a camera with Android just wouldn't work as a concept. Don't get me wrong; Samsung knows how to manufacture good cameras and Android... well... fits every gadget on the planet, but would be a bit of a overkill for a camera.

So as it happens Samsung just opened a Experience store (kind of a flagship store) in the middle of Helsinki and the grand opening super saver offers (like -50% of all goodies) were just too good to pass by.
I usually invest on robust Canon when it comes to pocket cameras as I have dreadful experiences with Olympus, Fuji, etc pocket cameras.
So there I was buying yet another gadget, namely Samsung Galaxy Camera, as our current Canon Ixus's are slowly being outdated.

Unboxing

So to the unboxing - all following pics are taken with the Galaxy Camera. Neat packaging as usual:


Extremely small 1.0A USB charger with cable and hand strap:


Specs and thoughts


The actual camera is big... no huge... for a pocket camera but it is a trade off and comes with many excellent features; here are some highlights:

  • huge display; 4.8" 720x1280 (~306ppi) Super clear LCD with Corning Gorilla Glass 2. This is excellent for viewing and modifying the pictures on the fly. It is actually the display size that dictates the camera xy-size as it covers the whole rear
  • comes pre-installed with many photo tweaking software and social media apps
  • wifi a/b/g/n + HDSPA 21Mbps (mine is not LTE version) + Wi-fi hotspot. You can share the quality pictures really fast!
  • bluetooth, mini HDMI & AllShare for connectivity. Please note that according to one site the AllShare only supports 720p although this gadget takes 1080@30fps (and 512@120fps)
  • packs quad core Exynos 4412 (+Mali 400MP GPU) so performance will not be an issue
  • ... and saved the best for last: 16,3 mega pixels (4608 x 3456) with 21 x optical zoom with proper pop up Xenon flash. Object specs are 4.1-86.1mm 1:2-5.9 23mm ==> equivalent to 23 - 483mm!! With this quality optical zoom the depth of the gadget becomes acceptable

Now that is a nice set of excellent features that you don't see in other pocket cameras. For a price of 199€ this is a bargain.

First impressions


  • came with Android 4.1.1 but immediately updated to 4.1.2
  • good overall performance; no latency
  • comes with excellent cloud support (by default: Dropbox (50Gb), Google Drive/Picasa, etc ( (+anything available at Google Play))
  • all usual Google Play goodies; 800k+ apps should fix any of your needs
  • boot time is surprisingly short and camera starts fast when on ready mode
  • actually it is nice that with this you can actually put a lock on your device (PIN, etc) so if it is lost  no one can access your photos. Also you can activate some locating service - something that I have learned to appreciate after loosing few cameras


Additional bonus: this uses at least that same battery as Samsung Galaxy SII & SII+ so reserve/replacement battery is widely available and low priced. Also external battery is a possibility via standard microUSB port.



Picture & video quality

By no means am I a professional but as far as I can say this does solid quality on all but low light light/high ISO conditions. The Xenon flash helps a lot and the image stabilizer is an excellent addition.
I have Canon & and latest Nikon DSLR cameras and in comparison to those this only loses in objective quality which is OK since: a) my Nikon zoom lens costs 2x this gadget and delivers only 18-105mm (vs 23-483mm) and b) superior optical zoom range and still considerably small lens/camera.
The camera also includes excellent user interface, informative ready programmed settings and fully manual settings so beginner and pros feel comfortable with this camera.
Please find below few screenshots from the camera UI (you can take a screenshot by pressing power button and rotating zoom counter clockwise at the same time for few seconds)

Photo shoot mode selector screen

Auto option is the default and just point-and-shoot setting.
Smart option: few ready made settings - please notice the informative texts. There are settings for any need you may come up... almost too many.



Expert option with possibility to tweak every settings manually. I really like those informative texts that utilize the big display.

Even with smart option there are informative texts to guide how to take the pictures: this is about taking a burst shot with tweaked settings.



Pros & cons

I thinks most of the pros & cons have been mentioned earlier but here are few more

Pros
  • the grip; feels really good on hand (because this is an over-sized pocket camera)
  • the default software allows so many photo tweaks that Adobe should be concerned about their future

Cons

  • battery life is not that good if on standby and if off the boot time (~5 sec) is a bit more than you average pocket camera. Of course the huge display is to blame for most of the battery draining
  • because of the Android 4.1.2 there is no photo sphere - only 8 consecutive pictures. Although as plain panorama the picture quality is excellent 

Summa Summarum


So the question remains; what is this good for?

  • excellent choice for bloggers and Facebook/social media fanatics who like to share every second of their life
  • excellent for outgoing people as this is actually a media center for all kind of content: think about a picnic with need to surf the internet, play Spotify, gaming & Youtube for the kids, communication and quality photo/video shoot. This has it all-in-one
  • people who like to modify their pictures on-the-fly with huge amount of apps
  • Android gadget freaks... that would be me :-)
For me this gadget is going to replace my Nikon D3200 DSLR as the default blogging camera.

The verdict

If you are not into bleeding edge networked photographing then skip this unless you get a really good bargain.
This gadget just disrupts the concept of basic photographing too much... which is something I guess Samsung actually wanted it to do.

P.S.1. As usual only one thing is for certain: the only good camera is the one that you have with you when you need one :-)
P.S.2. Check out Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom if you want all-in-one gadget. I checked it and I really liked what I saw (superb optical zoom, sorry Nokia)... but not the price
UPDATE: When connected to Linux (tested on Ubuntu 12.04) set the camera's USB PC connection in Camera (PTP) mode and the super easy Shotwell photo manager will take care of the rest.


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