Samsung Galaxy Camera review: Samsung Galaxy Camera

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good

Average User Rating

4.5 stars 1 user review
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Excellent touchscreen. All the benefits of Android and associated apps. 3G connectivity. Range of video recording frame rates, including low-res 120fps. 21x optical zoom.

The Bad Short battery life. Overall photo quality is OK, but may not be worth the price for some users.

The Bottom Line The Samsung Galaxy Camera is a great point-and-shoot for the everyday photographer who wants to instantly share to social media. Discerning photographers will find issues with its image quality, though arguably they're the wrong target audience for this camera.

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Design and features

The best way to describe the Galaxy Camera is to imagine a 21x optical zoom lens strapped onto the back of your large-screen Android smartphone. In essence, that's exactly what this camera has done. Unlike the Nikon Coolpix S800c , which we saw a few months ago, the Galaxy Camera has a lot more going for it on paper.

It runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and comes with a quad-core processor that ensures nifty response times. The camera also comes with 3G capabilities, which means that by inserting a micro SIM, you can surf the web, tweet, share photos to Facebook and more from anywhere, as long as you have data coverage.

The lens itself has some reasonable-looking specs: as mentioned, 21x optical zoom with 23mm wide angle, and a maximum aperture range of f/2.8-5.9, which is impressive and on par with other superzoom cameras. Behind the lens is a 16-megapixel, 1/2.3-inch backside-illuminated CMOS sensor.

The Galaxy Camera. Not as big as a pool table. Click through for sample photos.
(Credit: CBSi)

While the Galaxy Camera has a substantial front grip, because the entire back panel is covered with the touchscreen, there's nowhere to rest thumbs or fingers. This means that it feels very much like you are shooting using a mobile phone in landscape orientation.

A flash unit can pop up from the side of the camera with a dedicated button. Unlike the flash LED units found on some mobile phones, this is an actual flash like you would find on any compact camera. Elsewhere, the camera comes with 8GB of internal storage, but extra can be added by putting in a microSD card.

The 4.8-inch touchscreen is smooth and responsive, though perhaps a little too sensitive when in shooting mode, as a casual swipe or brush against the screen causes the shutter to fire.

Because the Galaxy Camera is running Android, there's no real need to connect the camera to a computer to download images (though, of course if you need to, the micro-USB port is there). The HDMI port at the base of the camera requires a proprietary cable, therefore limiting connectivity if you don't have the required cable and want to view images on a TV.

By default, the camera ships with Instagram, Dropbox, photo- and video-editing apps and all the other Google apps that you would expect on any Android device. Plenty of other editing apps can be downloaded from the Play Store, though if you are looking forward to using the optical zoom when in any other app apart from the default camera interface, you'll be disappointed. Most third-party apps are not designed to take advantage of Android devices with zoom, so you are limited to the digital zoom.

There are plenty of shooting modes to keep most photographers occupied. On top of the regular automatic mode, users can choose from full PASM control, with individual exposure controls tweaked from a visual series of rotating dials on the touchscreen. It's a nice touch, though not particularly quick to change settings, like it would be with physical buttons.

Changing manual exposure is as easy as a few swipes across the rotating on-screen dials. Click through for more hands-on photos with the Galaxy Camera.
(Credit: CBSi)

The Smart auto mode has a range of scenarios to choose from, which adjusts the camera settings for the best photo possible. These include silhouette, waterfall, panorama, sunset, night, light trace, beauty and continuous shooting.

Performance

General shooting metrics (in seconds)

  • Start-up to first shot
  • JPEG shot-to-shot time
  • Shutter lag
  • 2.11.50.3
    Samsung Galaxy Camera
  • 2.22.00.2
    Nikon Coolpix S800c

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Continuous shooting speed (in frames per second)

  • 4
    Samsung Galaxy Camera
  • 2.5
    Nikon Coolpix S800c

(Longer bars indicate better performance)

What you will notice about the Galaxy Camera is how long it takes to start up from power down. If the camera has been inactive for a reasonable period of time, it takes just as long to boot up from cold as any regular Android device does; around 20 seconds of waiting time. Fortunately, once the camera has booted up, it's ready to go and instantly loads into the camera app so that shooting can commence.

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Where to Buy

Samsung Galaxy Camera

Part Number: CNETSamsung Galaxy Camera

Typical Price: $599.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

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