The Samsung Galaxy Camera is an intriguing proposition, in that it offers all the capabilities of a high-end smartphone (except the key one of being able to make calls … more on that later) with a capable point-and-shoot camera. It’s a new genre of product, a point-and-share smart-camera if you will. But just how smart is it? I spent a bit of quality time with one to find out.
While it wasn’t the first Android-powered camera to hit the market, the Samsung Galaxy Camera EK-GC100 appears (at least on paper) to be the most complete package. It boasts a 16-megapixel sensor, a 21x optical zoom, 3G/4G connectivity, WiFi, GPS, a 4.8-inch touchscreen display, all powered by a Quad Core CPU running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.
It’s hard to know exactly how to approach the Galaxy Camera, or what market Samsung is aiming for. Despite the price tag, it’s clearly not aimed at the traditional photography enthusiast, as there’s no RAW shooting and the small sensor limits image quality. But who else would be willing to shell out US$500 on a camera?
Well, after a week of using the Samsung Galaxy Camera as my carry-everywhere camera, I’ve come to the conclusion that – despite not getting on with it for the first day or two – it’s a great option for avid mobile photographers. There’s something liberating about being able to share images instantly wherever you are, and the 21x optical zoom is a huge bonus over any other always-connected cameras.
- 16.3 megapixels
- 1/2.3 inch type CMOS sensor (6.2 x 4.6 mm)
- F2.5-5.9 4.1-86.1mm lens (23-483mm equivalent in 35mm format)
- ISO 100-3200
- Continuous shooting at 4 fps
- Android 4.1 Jellybean
- WiFi + 3G/4G connectivity
- 4.8-inch HD touchscreen
While it’s the screen that makes the Galaxy Camera bigger than a compact camera, what makes it bigger than a smartphone is the protruding 21x zoom lens (giving a 35mm-format focal length equivalent of 23-483mm) which extends as you would expect when zooming.
Despite its unusual size and form, the camera fits well in the hand. The finger-grip does its job and means the camera is less likely to slip out of your hand, while also making it easier to hold the camera steady when taking shots. When using the smart-camera for non-photo-taking duties, the lens automatically closes and gives a nice grip by which to hold the device.
It seems strange to say it of a camera which I’ve enjoyed using, but the thing that lets the Samsung Galaxy Camera down most is its image quality. In good lighting and with the right subjects, the camera can turn out some great quality images with good detail and resolution – but as soon as it begins to get dark, the classic small sensor problems begin to occur.
- Huge screen is great for composing shots
- Massive zoom range for a connected camera
- Always-on connectivity changes the way you share images
- No ability to shoot RAW
- Image quality is only similar to a budget compact
- Expensive compared to equally spec’ed cameras
- No ability to make calls
As I alluded to earlier, I really didn’t get on with the Samsung Galaxy Camera when I first started using it, in fact I positively hated it! It wasn’t as responsive as a traditional compact camera, and the image quality was nowhere near what I’d expect for a $500 camera.