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[January 21, 2013]
Smart camera falls short [Columbia Daily Tribune (MO)]
(Columbia Daily Tribune (MO) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) The Samsung Galaxy camera is the company's newest attempt at merging the world of smartphones and photography. Samsung's website claims the device "gives you the magic of professional digital photography with the powerful intelligence of the Android Jelly Bean OS." After field-testing the camera, I can say it is far from professional and just barely passes muster compared to most modern point-and-shoots.
Although the Galaxy camera does do several things quite well, few of them are related to photography. The camera runs on the most recent Android operating system, Jelly Bean. The interface is quick and responsive. Browsing on the device is fast, and I experienced very little lag while loading apps and navigating around the device's various options.
PHOTO: The Galaxy camera is Samsung's attempt to merge... more [+] This is built to be a social device, and that is one area where it shines. Signing onto various social networks and photography sites is a breeze, and photo sharing is integrated into the device. This means that as soon as you take a photograph, you can send it to someone or post it online.
If that sounds familiar, it's because most modern smartphones already have these capabilities. Having shared photographs online with both Android and Apple smartphones, I can say the Galaxy Camera does not offer any marked improvement in this functionality.
The camera does tout better optics than your standard smartphone, offering 16.3 megapixels and an optical zoom. In actual use, however, these improvements hardly seem worth the extra bulk. The zoom, while optically much better than the digital zooms of smartphones, suffers from a severe stabilization problem. Those hoping to get steady shots at 21x without a tripod are going to be out of luck most of the time.
And, despite the camera's megapixel count, the quality of those pixels does not impress. Images taken in anything but ideal conditions look overly digitized. Although this probably won't be noticeable online, where most of this camera's photos are likely to end up, it would be noticeable in prints, which are the only places where the megapixels would really matter for most people.
There are many "smart" options on the device for the amateur photographer. There is a "beauty face" setting, not to be confused with the "best face" setting. Presets also include "sunset," "light trace," "fireworks" and others. While these might be useful to those with limited knowledge of photography, they are more software clutter to those familiar with the basics of camera operation.
The camera's "expert" mode is where one is supposedly offered the option of shooting in a more professional style. But with the lack of physical buttons on the device, changing settings manually takes time and makes it nearly impossible to capture candid moments in changing lighting in "expert" mode. Touch-screen options are convenient for navigating apps and websites but become cumbersome when trying to make pictures. This leaves the photographer resigned to shooting on "auto" to avoid the hassle of missing moments or battling touch-screen menu options to arrive at the proper setting for any given lighting situation.
To summarize, this is not a photographer's camera. Its utility seems relegated to the snapshot world or for those hoping to look different from everyone else taking pictures with their smartphones. Although photographically the results are not that much different, you're unlikely to be making calls with your Galaxy Camera any time soon.
This is indeed a jack-of-all-trades, but it has not yet mastered the photography part. Because it is sold as a camera, that fact is a deal-breaker for me. The Samsung Galaxy camera's slight optical advantage over the ubiquitous smartphone camera is not enough to convince me to add another device to my camera bag.
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