Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 review: Android 4.3 goodness married to a nice 21x zoom point-and-shoot

From shot to shot it takes on average 1.1 seconds, but that time jumps to 2.5 seconds when using the flash (a definite improvement over the first-gen model). Shutter lag -- the time it takes from pressing the shutter release to capture without prefocusing -- is 0.4 second in bright lighting and 0.5 second in dim.

The camera does have a continuous shooting option that can shoot at up to 4.3 frames per second. That's pretty good, and you can start shooting another burst almost as soon as you release the shutter button. Focus and exposure are set with the first shot, though, so if you're shooting a fast-moving subject, chances are good that not all of your shots will be in focus.

General shooting options

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 (EK-GC200)
ISO sensitivity (full resolution)Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
Photo Filter)Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent H, Fluorescent L, Tungsten, Custom
Recording modesAuto, Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, Smart Modes (Smart mode suggest, Beauty face, Best photo, Selfie alarm, Continuous shot, Best face, Color bracket, Kids shot, Landscape, Dawn, Snow, Macro, Food, Party/indoor, Action freeze, Rich tone (HDR), Panorama, Waterfall, Animated photo, Drama, Eraser, Sound & shot, Interval, Silhouette, Sunset, Night, Fireworks, Light trace), Movie (Normal and Multimotion)
Focus modesMulti AF, Center AF, Touch AF, Face Detection AF
Macro1.9 inches (Wide)
Metering modesMulti, Spot, Center-weighted, Face Detection AE
Color effects

Vignette, Grey-scale, Sepia, Vintage, Faded colours, Turquoise, Tint, Cartoon, Moody, Rugged, Oil pastel, Fisheye

Burst mode shot limit (full resolution)Unlimited continuous

As for the device's overall performance, it's nice and fast. The 1.6GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM kept everything relatively zippy. Apps run smoothly, and again with the large touch screen editing photos and video right on the camera is really nice.

Of course, since it's running on Android 4.3 Jellybean you can load up more than just photo- and video-related apps. With the headphone jack on the right side, you can plug in and stream music and movies, play games, read and answer e-mail, or whatever else you'd be able to do on a modern Android device. (And thanks to a larger removable battery you can do more without worrying as much about killing your battery life.)

Unlike the Galaxy Camera, the GC2 currently comes in just a Wi-Fi-only version. This means you'll have to connect to a wireless network for Web access, whether that's at home or work, a mobile hotspot, or turning your smartphone or tablet into a mobile hotspot.

samsung-galaxy-camera-2nfc.jpg
Joshua Goldman/CNET

You can also create a Wi-Fi connection directly between the camera and your smartphone or tablet. The GC2 has NFC built in, so if you've got an Android device with that feature, you can simply tap the two together to start the connection between them. You can also use the NFC to quickly send photos taken with the camera straight to your phone.

With the Wi-Fi connection established, Samsung's MobileLink feature lets you transfer files from a smartphone or send files from the camera to one or more smartphones and its AutoShare feature gives you the option to automatically send photos to a smartphone as you shoot them with the camera.

You can also use your smartphone or tablet as a remote viewfinder and control the camera's zoom; set a self-timer; turn on the flash (if it's popped up); change picture resolution, and release the shutter. Unfortunately, you can't use it for recording movies or shooting in any mode other than Auto.

samsung-galaxy-camera-2smart-modes.jpg
Joshua Goldman/CNET

That's a shame considering how many shooting options are available. Its Smart Modes -- a mix of standard scene modes such as Macro, Landscape, and Sunset, and some automatic ways to do things like freeze action or create light trails without messing with shutter speeds on your own -- have grown to 28 options. This includes the new Selfie Alarm that lets you position a box on screen for where your face will be so that when you turn the camera around, it can lock on and give you an audible warning before it fires.

If you like more control, the GC2 does have manual and semimanual modes with an interesting interface for changing shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, and ISO. Tap the mode you want and a lens barrel pops out; you just slide the rings till you get what you want. Unfortunately, it's not exactly fast if your initial settings weren't quite right and you need to adjust again.

At the wide end, there are 10 available apertures from f2.8 to f8.0; at the telephoto end there are four from f5.9 to f8.5. Shutter speeds go from 1/2,000 second to 16 seconds.

For movies, you can shoot at 1,920x1,080 pixels at 30 frames per second; 1,280x720 pixels at 30 or 60fps; 768x512 pixels at 120fps (slow motion); 640x480 pixels at 30 or 60fps; and 320x240 pixels at 30fps. You can also pause movies in the middle of shooting, so you don't end up with a bunch of small clips.

In the auto, program, manual, and semi-manual shooting modes there is a row of 12 filter effects you can call up from the bottom of the screen. These can be used when shooting movies and applied to photos after you shoot as well. If you want to read about all that this camera can do, I recommended downloading the product manual from Samsung.

Conclusion
Despite its core components remaining the same as its predecessor, the power and flexibility of Android keeps the Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 from being an ordinary above average point-and-shoot.

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Where to Buy See all prices

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 (Black)

Part Number: EK-GC200ZKAXAR
MSRP: $449.99 Low Price: $347.99 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Optical Zoom 21 x
  • Optical Sensor Type BSI-CMOS
  • Sensor Resolution 16.3 Megapixel
  • Image Stabilizer optical
  • Optical Sensor Size 1/2.3"
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