Testing the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom's 16-megapixel shooter (pictures)

Samsung's 16-megapixel Galaxy S4 Zoom shoots like a standalone camera, and with good reason. The smartphone has all the right equipment.

Jessica Dolcourt
1 of 26 James Martin/CNET

Samsung's Galaxy S4 Zoom has the right camera moves

With its 10x zoom lens and easy-to-operate camera modes, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom is one heck of a camera. But it also makes for the lumpiest smartphone I've ever seen.

This gallery represents some of the best photos we took using this phone. While not every shot was successful, this should give you an idea of the kind of quality you can expect. Unless otherwise specified, these photos have been taken with automatic settings. You'll find a deeper camera comparison with the Nokia Lumia 1020 here.

2 of 26 Josh Miller/CNET


The Zoom makes colors pop, especially yellow tones.
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I really liked this image, which was taken in a plaza.
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Full zoom

I was even more impressed by the optical zoom quality when I moved in close on the statue's loop.
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Stalker shot

I used the full zoom to spy on this music lover.
6 of 26 Josh Miller/CNET


The Zoom has a larger depth of field, which helps keep the image more evenly in focus. However, in real life, these cacti are a lot bluer than this photo suggests.
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Food mode is a new one that punches up color to make shots of your meals extra palatable.
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Good enough to eat

Another cupcake angle, using Food mode. You can see the fat glisten in the frosting.
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More food mode

I used the same food-friendly settings on this turkey cheese burger.
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Tree berries

Another example of the Zoom's automatic settings applied to nature.
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Close shooter

I got close up on this $5 bill using automatic mode (left), then turned on macro to get closer still. It's interesting that the color tone cooled on macro.
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Vroom zoom

I took this picture with full zoom from across a busy street.
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I also used to phone's optical zoom to frame this waterfront scene a little tighter.
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And freeze!

Lighting conditions weren't very pretty, but I did want to test the Zoom's action-freeze mode on this fountain. This is a full-resolution crop.
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I like that you can see the texture on the hat when coming in close.
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I leaned in close to take this photo of a pair of jeans. The image looked crystal clear in freeze frame, but was a little softer and less defined after processing.
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Front-facing friends

Here's a group portrait taken with the 1.9-megapixel front-facing camera. Skin tones are more washed out and less rich.
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More indoors

The Zoom tends to fire the flash when taking inside pictures.
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More zoom

I set the focus on Kent German's face when zooming in from across a crowded room at CNET's ping pong tournament finals (really!). It took several attempts to get him in focus. The Zoom kept latching onto the figures to his left.
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All hail the champ!

The Zoom captured cell phone editor Lynn La's moment of ping pong triumph.
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Hot dog

I wasn't sure if I captured this moment or not until I looked in the photo gallery.
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Text ready

Lettering is clear on this extensive beer menu.
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Crisp edges

I was also happy with the detail and edge clarity on this bottle, but better low-light processing would have perhaps yielded a softer shot with less glass glare.
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Thirsty bears

The flash illuminated CNET writers in the front, but the ladies in back are much harder to see.
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Party people

The same thing happened, but to a lesser extent, to this group, and had me wishing for better low-light performance in automatic mode.
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Blinded by the light

Whether you want flash or no flash in dimly lit or indoor scenes is a matter of preference.

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