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Hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy S III camera

CNET's Jessica Dolcourt gets up close with the Samsung Galaxy S III's new camera software.

Samsung Galaxy S III buddy share
Testing out the buddy share feature in the Samsung Galaxy S III's camera. Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

NEW ORLEANS--Seeing the Samsung Galaxy S III at CTIA was exactly what I had hoped for leading up to the show.

Samsung's next global flagship phone packs a wallop of new software features, especially in the camera department. While there wasn't enough time at the busy conference to inspect everything, I did return for some quality time with the 8-megapixel camera.

I took a variety of outdoor shots near the convention center to try to get a feel for real-life scenes. Photos taken in automatic mode were up to par with Samsung's sharp Galaxy S II camera family. Pictures were sharply defined and colorful, with the greens looking a tad over saturated as they tend to do on Samsung's camera phones.

With the help of Samsung spokesperson Jessica Redman, I also tested out the new burst mode (she gamely jogged in heels for that feature), HDR mode, friend tagging, and Buddy Share, an optional feature you can enable to text or e-mail the photo you just snapped to the person who's tagged in it.

Unfortunately, the screenshots I emailed myself to share with you (like a really terrific sculpture right across the street from the convention center) failed to upload, and the Galaxy S III was already winging its way back to Samsung's Korean headquarters before we could try to resend the pictures.

Samsung Galaxy S III
Testing face tagging and the front-facing camera on the Samsung Galaxy S III. Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Luckily, I did take a few photos with the camera to demonstrate face-tagging (on a terribly unphotogenic front-facing shot of myself, no less) and Buddy Share. I'll reserve my final judgment for a full review when I can spend more than 20 minutes learning a gaggle of new features, but I will say that there's a bit of the learning curve and plenty of finger-tapping as you seek out features.

Regardless, I do really like Samsung's effort to deeply integrate the camera with the address book in an effort to make sharing photos even more seamless.

Before you take my experiences here as gospel, remember that the Galaxy S III I saw is still a pre-release product and the software isn't final. Make sure you also catch all the latest news from CTIA 2012.