The Samsung Galaxy Camera is the culmination of a convergence that has been taking place over the last couple of years. While smartphones have been getting ever better cameras, cameras have been getting ever more smart features, resulting in what we have here which is a full-fledged superzoom (21x) compact camera that runs the mobile phone operating system Android and has built 3G and Wi-Fi.
Is it the best of both worlds or convergence gone too far? Read on to find out.
Presented as the ‘Connected camera’ on the company’s website, the Samsung Galaxy Camera offers enough basic camera specs to rival many regular compacts. At the centre of things is a backside illuminated 1/2.3in CMOS sensor with an effective resolution of 16.3MP. Samsung doesn’t specify whether a dedicated image processor is present in the camera, however the camera does sport a 1.4GHz quad-core processor is to power the camera’s Android OS and so there’s a good chance that this is used to process images too.
Sensitivity ranges between ISO 100 and 3200, which is perhaps a stop below what might be expected of a camera of this price and type. Shooting options extend to the full compliment of Program, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority and Manual (PASM) modes, backed up by a standard Automatic option and 15 individually selectable ‘Smart’ shooting modes that are essentially a collection of scene modes, with the usual favourites such as Portrait, Macro and Landscape supplemented by a few slightly more adventurous options including Action Freeze, Rich Tone and Panorama. In addition to still image capture the Galaxy also offers 1080p Full HD video capture at 30fps.
On the front of the Galaxy you’ll find a 21x optical zoom that provides the 35mm equivalent of 23-483mm. This puts the Galaxy on the same optical footing as many travel compacts, such as the Lumix TZ30, Sony HX20V, Fuji F770EXR and Canon PowerShot SX260 HS. Maximum aperture is a usefully quick f/2.8 at 23mm, rising incrementally to f/5.9 at 484mm. The lens is also supported by optical image stabilisation technology to help keep the effects of camera shake at bay when the camera is used at longer focal lengths and slower shutter speeds.
Taken on their own, the core camera specs listed so far point towards little more than a mid-range travel compact. But of course, the Galaxy camera is much more than that; in addition to being a camera it’s also a fully functioning Android device running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean – the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system. In addition to its Wi-Fi connectivity, the Galaxy Camera is also compatible with 3G networks, and even comes boxed with a Micro SIM card that offers a 30-day mobile broadband trial on the 3 network. You’ll also get 50GB of Dropbox storage free for two years, with the option to automatically back up all of your images directly to the cloud – even using 3G if you so desire.
While the Galaxy Camera doesn’t offer any built-in telephone capabilities of its own, the camera’s microphone means it is possible to use VoIP apps such as Skype should you find yourself caught short without your regular mobile and in range of an open Wi-Fi signal. And yes, you can also play Angry Birds on it, or send emails, or even watch YouTube videos should you want to. Perhaps more usefully, you can also download and install all kinds of useful photo editing and management apps, as well as to view – or upload images to – all your favourite social networking sites. At present there are around 700,000 apps on the Google Play Store, so finding something useful that increases the overall functionality of the Galaxy Camera shouldn’t prove too troublesome.
Befitting its positioning as a camera/smartphone hybrid device, the Galaxy Camera comes with a fittingly impressive LCD display. Measuring in at 4.8in, the screen offers a 1280 x 720 HD resolution, and further benefits from capacitive touchscreen technology. The screen gets a 16:9 aspect that’s perfect for HD video, but does result in black tramlines down each side when shooting still images in the native 4:3 aspect.