Ease of Use: 4 / 5
Pricing: 1 / 5
Video Quality: 3.5 / 5
Photo Quality: 3 / 5
Features: 4 / 100
What do you get when you take Samsung’s W850 digital camera, add their Galaxy S3’s internals to it and mix in some ingenuity? Say hello to the new Samsung Galaxy Camera.
The Galaxy Camera is truly a unique gadget. It attempts to answer a very important question that many have been asking since social media became important, especially on the media side; How can we combine real camera quality with the ease of sharing directly from your phone?
The Galaxy Camera is a thing of beauty. The white body and lens, combined with the huge 4.7” screen looks good. In fact, it looks fantastic. I literally had people walking up to me to compliment me on the camera. That was a first for me. The Galaxy Camera also has a 22x zoom lens.
The Galaxy Camera is endowed with the same fantastic screen you will find on a Galaxy S3. Working with a camera with such a screen, really does make it difficult to go back to anything else. The usual 3” screen simply doesn’t cut it anymore. The big screen has loads of detail, its “contrasty” and has good colour reproduction. This makes checking what you shot and whether focus was good very easy. It’s still not perfect in direct sunlight, but probably as good as you can get at the moment. The only negative was that because the camera doesn’t have a true optical viewfinder, the digital image got distorted as you zoom, and the distortion got more exaggerated the more you zoom.
Another nicety is the fact that the battery of the Galaxy Camera can be swapped with other Galaxy devices and it uses the same charger as any other Galaxy device. It also connects to computers via Samsung’s KIES like other Galaxy devices.
The innards of this camera are just as impressive as the exterior. In fact, this is the smartest camera ever. Under the hood is a Galaxy S3 heart. The camera has the same 1.2GHz quad-core chip and 2GB of RAM. It also comes with 16GB standard and also has a micro SD card slot for expandable memory. The camera also has a SIM slot and has Wi-Fi capability, although it doesn’t have the ability to make calls.
The Galaxy Camera runs on Jelly Bean, Android’s latest operating system (4.2.2). It is an ever so slightly trimmed version. Instead of the usual 8 home screen set up, you are only greeted with 4. The camera also does without the Contacts or Phone sections, as it cannot make calls.
Apart from the phone section missing, the Galaxy Camera is fully functional. Think of it in the same sense as a tablet. You have access to the Google Play store for all the apps you need/want and it will take care of all your messaging needs. Running on S3 internals, everything happens very swiftly and operation is silky smooth. I was unable to get the Galaxy Camera to stutter in my time with it.
It is very obvious that the Galaxy Camera is geared toward photography. There are big galleries and various photo and video apps standard on the Galaxy Camera.
But the true surprise for me was the actual camera app. Although a bit laggy every now and then, the interface is brilliant. The Galaxy Camera has full manual functionality and the camera app lets you work within all the different modes that you are used to from point and shoot and DSLR cameras. Here though, everything happens on the screen, with a real-time adjustment of what the photo will look like while you adjust settings like ISO, aperture, exposure and shutter speed. The camera also has various set modes like landscape, night, macro etc. as well as a full Auto mode.
This is definitely the best camera app implementation I’ve seen in any mobile device, by far. I do hope this gets filtered down to other Samsung devices, as this could very well be a game changer for Samsung.
So, I’ve told you lot about how it works, but what do the photos and videos look like? This is actually a bit of a tricky answer. For the social media scene – it’s awesome! You will be posting to Instagram like a boss! Facebook and Twitter will be no match for the Galaxy Camera and you can be the mayor of any place you wish when you have this Camera.
When it comes to apples with apples comparison with other cameras in its class, it’s not as clear-cut. The photos have too much artefacting and look very artificial. At a glance and at social media sizes, they look sharp and full of detail, but on pixel level it’s another story. Apart from the artefacting, there’s a more noise present than I would like to see in lower ISO photos. Even at base ISO in bright sunlight, there is a lot of noise visible in the skies. The photos hold up quite well at higher ISO’s though, with even photos at ISO1600 still looking very clean.
Strangely the video holds up much better to the competition. In fact, it’s the best aspect of this camera’s outputs. It’s so good that we could integrate it with some Sony FS100 footage pretty seamlessly.
The Galaxy Camera is such an interesting idea. The idea of mixing a proper camera and a mobile device is the natural evolution for mobile companies. Samsung is definitely ahead of the curve here and if they can keep the momentum, they could really change the game in a big way.
The Galaxy Camera is not a perfect device, and at the price point is quite hard to justify. It could have benefited from somewhat cheaper internals. The Galaxy S2 internals comes to mind. The S2 could already shoot pretty decent 8MP photos and record at full HD and it runs Ice Cream Sandwich very smoothly. This configuration could have helped to shave R1-2K of the price and make the Galaxy Camera a more affordable and enticing option.
A very interesting take on where things could lead in future.