Samsung Galaxy Camera review - hands on
Posted on 30 Aug 2012 at 05:51, by Tom Morgan at IFA in Berlin
Now this is something we weren’t expecting – Samsung took a break from the norm as part of its pre-IFA Mobile Unpacked event yesterday to announce the Galaxy Camera – a 16-megapixel point and shoot powered by Google’s Android operating system.
From the front, the 21x zoom lens white textured finish don’t look particularly out of the ordinary, but turning the Galaxy camera over reveals a huge 4.8in LCD display and Jelly bean, the latest and greatest version of Android.
Powered by a 1.4GHz quad-core processor, the Galaxy camera is faster than most mobile phones, and it’s almost as well connected. As well as in-built Wi-Fi, you also get Wi-Fi Direct for sharing photos instantly with your friends’ smartphones – the feature could spell the end to having to take six pictures with different cameras so everyone gets the same image. There’s also 3G and 4G LTE on-board, for instant uploading to the cloud wherever you are.
As it’s powered by Android, there are a host of clever ways it can interact with your smartphone. With the right app, you can turn your phone into a remote viewfinder and trigger, letting you take a picture instantly rather than set a timer and run into position.
It has voice control, letting you activate the shutter even if you’ve got your hands full – we weren’t able to test it in the loud demo hall, but if it’s anywhere near as accurate as Google Now it could become a very useful feature.
Perhaps the most controversial feature, at least among photography professionals, will be the Smart Pro mode. It supplies a collection of image pre-sets that promise to take perfect action shots, crystal clear waterfall freezes and pin-sharp light traces. We won’t hold our breath until we’ve seen the results first hand, but regardless it’s still a neat feature for anyone looking to do a little more than the average holiday album.
Samsung has done a great job with the Android interface. It looks clean and minimal, while still retaining the trademark Samsung pastel colours favoured by the Galaxy X phones. It wasn’t clear if the camera was running a variant of Touchwiz or a new Android theme, but we certainly preferred it to the current theme used in the Galaxy S3.
The Smart Content Manager replaces Google’s fairly basic gallery app, and it’s much more intuitive at handling large photo collections. Multiple views, including timeline and location modes, let you quickly navigate between albums and events. A Sharing widget combines all your social networks and storage services in one place, letting you upload to multiple accounts simultaneously or push photos to a Smart TV.
You’ll be able to use existing Android camera apps such as Instagram, which could result in much higher quality images than the ones most phones are currently capable of – although the artistic merit of an Instragram snap is still hotly up for debate. We thought the optical zoom seemed a little slow, even using the default camera application, but we were told the unit was using pre-release firmware – we’ll wait until we see one in our lab before we give a final verdict.
Android can take a while to start up, but Samsung promises that the camera will resume from sleep mode almost instantly, so you won’t have to wait around before taking pictures. You’ll also be able to film in Full HD, or record slow motion video clips at 120 frames per second.
The Galaxy Camera isn’t the first Android powered camera – that honour goes to Nikkon – but based on what we’ve seen so far Samsung’s interface tweaks and extended connectivity make it a more exciting prospect. We weren’t given an exact date for when we’ll be able to buy one, or how much it will cost, but it’s still an interesting new way to share your precious moments that we’ll be keeping a close eye on.
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