Samsung Galaxy Camera review

Samsung Galaxy Camera review

T3 4
  • Samsung Galaxy Camera review: This snapper aims to combine camera features you can’t find on smartphones with smartphone features you can’t find on other cameras

    Samsung Galaxy Camera review

    Love

    • Vivid 4.8-inch display
    • Wi-Fi connectivity and apps
    • Lots of customisation options

    Hate

    • Small and fiddly microSD
    • Rather large and bulky
    • OS built for phones
    • not cams

    Update:Since the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Camera, the brand has boosted its Android arsenal with the world's first 4G-toting interchangeable lens camera - check out our Samsung Galaxy NX review

    The market for smartphones is currently five times bigger than the market for cameras; so isn’t it about time that the latter learnt some tricks from the former? Samsung thinks so and has debuted the Samsung Galaxy Camera (also known by its less whimiscal product number - the Samsung EK-GC100), which it has christened a whole new category of device: predictably enough, the ‘smart camera’.

    On paper this looks like an intelligent move: Samsung is hugely successful in the smartphone and tablet markets. And an ‘always connected’ camera, which can talk to other devices in its product portfolio via Wi-Fi – as well as directly access the Internet and download ‘apps’ – can only strengthen its maker’s grip on our purse strings.

    Via Samsung, we now have in tech terms what marketers like to call a ‘complete solution’. The only potential fly in the ointment is that Nikon – despite its image of traditionalism rather than innovation – was first to market with an Internet-enabled camera with its own bunch of apps in the Nikon Coolpix S800c.

    Whereas Nikon based its snapshot camera around the older Android ‘Gingerbread’ operating system, however, Samsung’s later release date has enabled the Galaxy Camera to be bang up to date by incorporating Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.

    There’s also a Quad Core processor on board the Samsung; claimed to be the same as that in the Samsung Galaxy S3 phone. Photographers will be pleased to know it also fields a 16-megapixel resolution from a 1/2.3-ich BSI CMOS sensor (spec shared with the Nikon) plus a 21x optical zoom.

    On the Samsung this provides a focal range the equivalent of an ultra wide 23-483mm on a 35mm film camera, which is useful indeed.

    Though the Galaxy is much physically larger than the pocket ‘travel zoom’ snapshot that sort of specification would usually suggest, or indeed an interchangeable lens system camera such as the Samsung NX1000, here the lens cannot be swapped however. But then it can’t on the more practically compact S800c from Nikon either, which ‘only’ offers a 10x optical zoom.

    Price wise there’s not a massive amount of difference between the Android cameras of the two manufacturers: The Galaxy is a suggested £399.99 while the S800c is £379.99.

    Take away the connectivity aspect of the Nikon, though, and our recent review felt we were left with a rather over-priced snapshot camera. Will we draw the same conclusions about the Galaxy? Or is this a rather more tuneful mash-up of camera and smartphone? Read on to find out…

    Samsung Galaxy Camera: Controls

    The fact that the operating system has been ported over from the world of smartphones means that the initial set up guides, as we also found on Nikon’s S800c, refer to ‘your phone’ rather than your camera. Oops.

    And, though we found the Samsung slightly easier and faster than its Android rival to get up and running - it quickly located our Wi-Fi network from a floor below, while its Nikon rival took a few attempts even when sat right in front of it - you can’t just turn it on and start shooting as soon as the battery is charged, as with a standard compact.

    It has to ‘boot up’ first. But, once it has done this, and subsequently gone to sleep to preserve power between shots, a press of the power button will throw you straight back into camera mode without a pre-amble through various welcome screens.

    Though from the front the Samsung Galaxy Camera looks rather minimal and in many respects resembles the reverse of a smartphone or tablet with a zoom lens and handgrip stuck on – which means it lacks the more traditionalist camera elegance of the Nikon S800c – it’s all about the reverse of the device here.

    Swallowing up the entire backplate is a 4.8-inch touch-sensitive screen – the largest of its type found on any consumer digital camera. And, apart from a shutter release button, zoom lever and power button on the top plate, this is where all the ‘controls’ – including a selection of pre-loaded ‘apps’ like Instagram - lie.

    The camera itself is even presented as an app in this mode, so users can easily navigate back to it with a finger prod (no stylus is provided).

    There are three basic shooting modes for the stills camera side of the operation: the self explanatory Auto, plus Smart mode and Expert mode. Smart is where the user has access to 15 pre-optimised scene modes.

    Expert mode is where users can alter exposure incrementally (up to +/- 2EV), plus tweak shutter speed, size of aperture and additionally light sensitivity, which here runs from a standard ISO100 to ISO3200 – or all three in succession if you’ve selected the fully-comprehensive Manual option.

    Samsung Galaxy Camera: Video

    The other shooting mode is naturally video, and here we get the chance to shoot Full HD 1920x1080 pixels clips at 30 frames per second, and thankfully have access to full use of the 21x optical zoom. If you adjust the zoom in the midst of recording there’s a wait of a second or so while focus re-adjusts and the image snaps from a blur back into sharp focus.

    Touch-sensitive stop and pause buttons are provided on screen, but we were slightly surprised that the camera automatically starts filming as soon as video mode is selected. We expected a bit more personal control, via a virtual red record button on screen perhaps, as is more usually the case on rivals.

    By touching the screen there is the further ability to fire the shutter when back in stills mode; again this is something we’ve increasingly seen on various touch screen cameras, including those in the Olympus Pen range and Panasonic G series.

    When you've taken the shot there are 35 photo editing tools accessible via the on-board Photo Wizard. A toolbar is displayed on screen and here the large LCD really comes into its own.

    The default setting for the camera to shoot in is 16:9 – whereby the image fills the screen – but if you want full 16 megapixel resolution then opt for 4:3 aspect ratio, which adds black borders on-screen to the left and right.

    Via the pre-loaded S-voice app there is also the ability to command the camera to do certain things, such as ‘turn the camera on’, which is neat; however we found it more practical and faster to simply user our fingers rather than vocal chords.

    At times it does feel like you’re playing with a tablet rather than a camera in using the Galaxy, and you can almost forget that you were about to take a picture or shoot a video – because there are plenty of other distractions on board. The big screen is really immersive, which brings us neatly on to our next section…

    Samsung Galaxy Camera: Screen

    From the moment you power up, the quality of the Galaxy Camera’s 4.8-inch LCD (as opposed to the impressive but smaller OLED screen of the Nikon S800c) hits home.

    It's very impressive; not just due to the much larger than average size and widescreen ratio, when compared to any other digital camera on the market, but also thanks to the crystal clear image relayed via a high 1280x720 (921,600 dot) resolution. The screen is as responsive to each finger prod or swipe as we’d have hoped for, meaning that operation is both seamless and intuitive.

    The viewing experience is basically like that of a miniature tablet – or the brand’s own Samsung Galaxy Note 2 – and here it certainly feels like one has been welded on the back of a point and shoot camera.

    Samsung Galaxy Camera: Battery

    The Samsung’s battery is charged within the camera and a matching and rather fetching white USB lead and adapter plug were provided with our identically coloured unit.

    A cell roughly the dimensions of an After Eight mint slots into the compartment at the base shared with a slot for removable microSD card, as adopted by most phones, though to utter a moderate grumble it is more fiddly to retrieve than regular sized SD media. The Galaxy can also take a micro SIM card, while a micro HDMI port (cable optional) sits in between the two.

    Battery life is good for up to 290 shots from a full charge. Contrast this with the Nikon S800c which offers a meagre 140 shots from a full charge of its own power source and the Samsung Galaxy Camera is beginning to take the lead.

    Samsung Galaxy Camera: Image quality

     

    The picture quality delivered by the Galaxy Camera is as bright, crisp and colourful as we’d have hoped for in a variety of general shooting conditions – both indoors and out – and those looking for a souped-up snapshot, or a travel zoom camera with plentiful ‘extras’ – won’t be disappointed.

    Some things could inevitably be better. There are familiar image bugbears such as pixel fringing in high contrast shooting scenarios. Plus a 10cm closest focus distance is modest by the standards of rivals (which by contrast can get as close as 1cm), though in fairness on the Samsung it proved sufficient for most subjects, including close ups of flowers and still life during our test period.

    As we noted earlier, the zoom can be adjusted in the midst of recording a sequence of video, and though the auto focus isn’t as lighting fast to catch up as we might have liked – there’s a wait of a second or two – at least catch up it does. Again colourful and clean imagery is possible.

    Samsung Galaxy Camera: Verdict

    The fact that the 16 megapixel, 21x zoom Samsung Galaxy Camera is one of only two snapshots currently to offer the triple whammy of being wireless, Android powered and Internet enabled, should make it compelling for gadget fans as much as camera enthusiasts.

    We understand the minimalist matt white version is the one that is being pushed in the UK – and was what we had to play with – though we have also witnessed striking wine red, orange, and ‘cobalt black’ alternatives at foreign trade shows.

    In terms of portability, though the camera feels large in the hand at first, it will actually slip fairly comfortably into a jacket pocket, as with a larger smartphone. Just the curved grip and lens barrel, mostly retracted when not in use, mark it out as something else entirely.

    That said, anyone after a svelte pocket snapper who is otherwise quite happy to keep using their smartphone for apps and Internet browsing on the move, may want to look elsewhere.

    This is a first generation product however and the gut instinct is that we will see physically smaller cameras with slightly better/larger sensors and interchangeable lenses – that can still connect directly to Dropbox (with 50GB of storage offered for two years) and the ilk for uploading pictures – before too long. You’d be an idiot to bet against the fact that Samsung is working on such a device right now.

    For the moment though the Galaxy Camera is a more pleasurable experience to use than Nikon’s fractionally cheaper S800c and arguably more versatile; but whether you might be better off keeping your existing snapshot and spending what’s being asked here on an actual tablet instead is entirely a choice for you. However, in the future, and undoubtedly very soon, all cameras will be made this way.

    Samsung Galaxy Camera release date: Out now

    Samsung Galaxy Camera price: £399.99

  • The Samsung Galaxy Camera sports an Android Jelly Bean OS, along with a touchscreen and Wi-Fi connectivity for uploading directly to the web

    Samsung Galaxy Camera review

    Love

    • Vivid 4.8-inch display
    • Wi-Fi connectivity and apps
    • Lots of customisation options

    Hate

    • Small and fiddly microSD
    • Rather large and bulky
    • OS built for phones
    • not cams

    Update: The Samsung Galaxy Camera has been officialy priced at £399 and will go on sale in the UK on 8 November 2012. Samsung Brand Store customers will have the opportunity to buy the camera a day earlier - from 5pm on 7 November 2012.

    The Samsung Galaxy Camera is the brand's first Android-powered digital camera and joins the recently announced Nikon Coolpix S800c in the Android camera camp.

    Sporting Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, the camera features built-in Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity along with a 21x optical zoom and an HD touchscreen.

    The camera body itself isn't the smallest we've seen, but it fits comfortably in the hand and the the textured grip means that it feels secure.

    Samsung Galaxy Camera: Controls

    Thanks to the presence of a touchscreen, physical controls are kept to a minimum, and you won't find much beyond the shutter release and power buttons. There's a top-mounted zoom control, but the zoom can also be controlled using the touchscreen.

    The camera also features voice control for basic functions such as 'Shoot' and 'Zoom in', but we didn't get the chance to try this out on the busy Samsung stand at IFA.

    Samsung Galaxy Camera: Screen

    Samsung describes the HD LCD touchscreen as "the world’s largest and most vivid camera display", and at 4.77 inches, and it certainly looks good. We were impressed by the clarity and brightness of the screen, in fact we're surprised that no brand has put such a good quality screen on a camera until now.

    Samsung Galaxy Camera: Android

    Powered by a quadcore processor, the camera runs on the latest version of Android (Jelly Bean) so that that the user interface feels more like that of a smartphone than a camera. The graphical UI is easy to navigate around, and will let you choose from a variety of settings including Auto and manual modes.

    You can also download apps from Google Play including Instagram and Facebook so that you'll be able to upload directly to all your social networks, in a couple of easy steps.

    Samsung Galaxy Camera: Picture quality

     

    The Galaxy Camera has a 16-Megapixel 1/2.3” BSI CMOS sensor, along with a 23mm lens for wide angle shots. The brand's 'Smart Pro’ technology comprises a series of modes that have been designed to get professional results, without the hard work. A series of preset modes are there to help you: depending on the shooting situation, this will automatically adjust your settings for you.

    We reeled off a few quick test shots on the Samsung stand and they looked excellent on the large bright screen, but obviously this is something we'll be looking at more closely in our full review.

    The camera will be available as a 3G and Wi-Fi model or a 4G and Wi-Fi version.

    Samsung Galaxy Camera: Verdict

    While we were initially skeptical about the need for an Android-based camera, we were impressed with the Samsung Galaxy Camera. We particularly liked the snapper's physical design as well as the large, HD screen. We looking forward to testing the camera out in the wild.

    Samsung Galaxy Camera availability: TBC

    Samsung Galaxy Camera price: £399

    Hands-on review by Libby Plummer

    • Samsung Galaxy camera preview
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/sa/xs_SamsungGalaxyCamera_9_624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/sa/xs_SamsungGalaxyCamera_10_624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/sa/xs_SamsungGalaxyCamera_11_624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/sa/xs_SamsungGalaxyCamera_12_624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/sa/xs_SamsungGalaxyCamera_13_624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/sa/xs_SamsungGalaxyCamera_14_624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/sa/xs_SamsungGalaxyCamera_5_624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/sa/xs_SamsungGalaxyCamera__624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/sa/xs_SamsungGalaxyCamera_8_624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/sa/xs_SamsungGalaxyCamera_3_624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/sa/xs_SamsungGalaxyCamera_7_624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/sa/xs_SamsungGalaxyCamera_2_624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/sa/xs_SamsungGalaxyCamera_4_624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/sa/xs_SamsungGalaxyCamera_6_624.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/sa/xs_SamsungGalaxyCamera_lead_62.jpg

Comments

Be the first to comment…

Back to top
Close
T3 Newsletter
Sign up to recieve the T3 newsletters by entering your details below

Your Details

As you're registering with us. we'd like to think that you'd enjoy receiving the following emails; if you'd rather not receive them, please untick the boxes:

I would like to receive other emails from T3, Future Publishing Limited and it's group companies containing news, special offers and product information
I agree to the terms of use and privacy policy and confirm that I am over 16 years of age *
Close
Log in or Join

By clicking below you agree to our terms and conditions and our privacy policy

Log in to T3.com with your preferred social network

Log in with your T3.com account

CloseJoinPlease complete these additional details

Join T3.com with your preferred social network

OR

Join T3.com

Please tick this box to confirm you are 16 years old or over

Just so we know you're human

Newsletters

I would like to receive T3 email newsletters, packed full of the latest tech news, competitions and exclusive offers.

I would like to receive other emails from T3, Future Publishing Limited and its group companies containing news, special offers and product information.

I would like to receive offers from carefully selected third Parties. We will not share your data with the third party.

Close Edit your profile

Change your password

Newsletters

I would like to receive T3 email newsletters, packed full of the latest tech news, competitions and exclusive offers.

I would like to receive other emails from T3, Future Publishing Limited and its group companies containing news, special offers and product information.

I would like to receive offers from carefully selected third Parties. We will not share your data with the third party.

Social networks

You have authorised these social networks to interact with your T3.com account.

Please ensure you deactivate or revoke access to this website from within your social networks settings to ensure all permissions are removed.

Close Forgotten your password

Forgotten your password?

Please enter the email address that you used to sign up and we'll send you a new password

Close
Forgotten password
Don't have a T3 Account? Join now