Samsung Galaxy Camera brings 21x zoom and Xenon flash to Android (review)

Samsung Galaxy Camera brings 21x zoom and Xenon flash to Android (review)

Summary: People are using their smartphones for cameras, so Samsung released a camera with Android on the back. It's a nice solution that takes solid photos, but it's rather expensive at $550.


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  • Right side handle/textured area

    I enjoy using my Samsung Galaxy Note II and the more I test the camera and compare it to other smartphones, the more impressed I am by the solid performance. Samsung took their camera experience to the next level with the Samsung Galaxy Camera, but the advanced features come at a rather steep price when compared to point and shoot cameras.

    If you are looking at using the Samsung Galaxy Camera as a point and shoot alternative, then I recommend you stick with a point and shoot for higher quality pics. The Galaxy Camera's strength is not superb optics, but connectivity and Android applications.

    I never print photos and don't think it's that common anymore. However, like most people, I do upload photos to social networking sites, upload to online backup services, and send them to people via email. Thus, many of us are not as concerned about photo quality as we were in the past and as long as they look good online then that satisfies many folks. Like a smartphone, you can use the Samsung Galaxy Camera to upload your photos to various places right after you take them.

    The Samsung Galaxy Camera is available now from Verizon Wireless for $549.99 with month to month service. You can add it to your shared data plan or pay for LTE service like you can with an iPad.


    Specifications for the Samsung Galaxy Camera include:

    • 16 megapixel camera with 21x optical zoom
    • Optical image stabilization and Xenon flash
    • 4.8 inch 1280 x 720 pixel LCD display
    • Quad-core, 1.4 GHz processor
    • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with TouchWiz UI
    • 1GB RAM
    • 8 GB internal memory with microSD card slot
    • Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, DLNA support
    • 1,650 mAh removable Lithium Ion battery
    • Dimensions of 2.79 x 5.07 x 0.75 inches and 10.76 inches

    As you can see, there are a couple differentiators over the Galaxy smartphones, including support for 21x optical zoom and Xenon flash. The Galaxy Camera is essentially a Samsung Android smartphone slapped on the back of a point and shoot camera.


    Like many others, I find most Samsung smartphones to use rather cheap plastics for the back cover. However, Samsung did a much better job with the Galaxy Camera and I would love to see this type of plastic construction used in their smartphones. I tested the white model. The back is completely black and mostly taken up by the display. There are no buttons to control the Android experience — there are instead touchscreen controls that rotate when you turn the camera. There are three buttons: menu, home, and back.

    The microUSB port is on the right side, along with the 3.5mm headset jack. These are both located in a textured area that serves as a great handle for holding the camera with one hand. A nice leather lanyard is included and attaches near the bottom of the right side.

    To the left of these ports and on top of the camera you will find the capture button and dial to zoom the lens in and out. The power button is near the center on the top.

    On the left side you will find a button that raises the Xenon flash on top of the left side. Below this is the speaker opening. Around the front you will find the very large lens that pops out in three stages. To the left of the lens you will find a sensor.

    There is a tripod attachment port centered in the bottom of the Galaxy Camera. A door on one side opens up to reveal the microHDMI port, SIM card slot, microSD slot, and removable battery.


    The Galaxy Camera is powered by Android and when you press the Home button you will see that it is a fairly typical Samsung device with the TouchWiz user interface. Let's take a closer look at the advanced camera software that sets the Galaxy Camera apart. I understand that the upcoming Galaxy S4 will have this same cool camera interface and I hope it comes to my Note II as well.

    When you first launch the camera, you will see three main buttons on the screen on the right. These include camera capture (you can also use the top button), mode, and video capture. Along the upper left is an arrow, and when you tap it you will see controls for voice controls, flash, timer, and more.

    If you want to switch out of auto mode, then you tap the mode button to reveal the other two modes: smart and expert. Smart mode opens up a page of thumbnails that include the following:

    • Beauty face: Corrects facial imperfections automatically when taking portrait photos.
    • Best photo: Selects the best picture when you take a series.
    • Continuous shot: Takes photos continuously at a rate of four per second.
    • Best face: Selects the best picture of each person from five consecutive pictures to get the best-merged photo.
    • Landscape: Best for landscapes where it makes blues and greens more intense.
    • Macro: Takes pictures of close objects or text.
    • Action freeze: Takes pictures of fast movement.
    • Rich tone: Takes and merges photos in various exposures to create soft and rich color.
    • Panorama: Takes panorama pictures made up of a maximum of eight photos.
    • Waterfall: Takes pictures of waterfalls and flowing water using long exposure. A tripod is recommended for this mode.
    • Silhouette: Takes pictures of silhouettes with backlighting.
    • Sunset: Takes pictures that emphasize the sunset by making the colors more intense.
    • Night: Takes pictures by combining pics to get brighter, clearer pics in low light without flash.
    • Fireworks: Takes pictures of fireworks using long exposure. Again, a tripod is recommended.
    • Light trace: Takes pictures of light trails using long exposure at night. A tripod is recommended here too.

    The expert mode features are beyond my limited camera knowledge, but mimic what you might see on a DSLR. You will find manual settings for aperture, EV (brightness), and shutter speed. I need to study more before using these manual settings, but I find the smart and automatic modes to be more than adequate for my usage.

    The Galaxy Camera has integrated LTE and WiFi for connectivity that functions just like it does on Android smartphones. There is no ability to make calls and the LTE connection is strictly for data usage.

    The Samsung Galaxy Camera is a rather expensive device, but if you take lots of photos and want to upload them to social networking sites on the go, then it may be worth it. It's a pretty large and heavy device and the reason I use my smartphones to take photos is that they are always in my pocket, and the Galaxy Camera is just too big for that. It takes great photos and shoots like a regular camera, but you will still find that standard point and shoots take better photos.

  • Top showing the capture button/zoom control

  • Lens extended for usage

Topics: Mobility, Android, Google, Reviews, Samsung

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  • Is it really a smartphone?

    You say that it's a camera with a smartphone. If that's the case, then the price seems pretty cheap. $550 for a smartphone with a nice lens would be reasonable.

    However nowhere did I read that you can actually use this camera as a phone. It has 3G but can it make phone calls? The SAMSUNG site simple calls it a Smart Camera (
    • clarification

      The actual quote is "The Galaxy Camera is essentially a Samsung Android smartphone slapped on the back of a point and shoot camera."

      Just wondering if it can really make phone calls.
      • not a phone, a camera with a WiFi/3G connexion for pict uploads

        I just bought that camera, it's an Android camera with a WiFi/3G (LTE?) connection to upload automatically the photos to a server. There is one predefined by Samsung, but Dropbox works also just fine. Funny enough, it's delivered with a headset with a microphone but no phone application. So I guess we could use Skype or Google Talk to make calls, I haven't tried it yet. The quality of the pictures is pretty good, so in my opinion it's not as bad as Matthew seem to imply.

        The forgotten feature is the integrated GPS, the pictures are EXIF tagged with the location (if you enable it). That was THE feature I needed.

        Samsung was also running a deal with a discount when I bought it, making it really attractive.

        The missing accessory is a case. Not even an option.
  • Camera Tablet

    I have wondered when someone was going to do something like this............. My thought was a tablet camera. A 7" or 10" tablet with advanced camera capabilities. Perhaps a good onboard camera, and a plug in or bluetooth lens / sensor assembly that utilizes the tablet's electronics, display, and storage.
  • Sounds way overpriced

    At $550 it sounds way overpriced. That's getting into the "prosumer" range. Can it take add-on lenses and do HDR? "Best Face" sounds like HDR but what if there are no faces? It sounds like that feature is designed to work off skin tone.

    What is the maximum size external card it can use? At 21 megapixels I imagine photo file sizes are pretty large. I know there are now cards larger than 32GB but I believe they work with slightly different technology and may not be compatible with hardware designed for the older cards.
    • Money well spent

      The Galaxy Camera does not handle add-on lenses but it does HDR. The camera has an automated optical wide-angle zoom lense that extends when the camera mode is activated. It can handle 64GB of external memory at Class 10 which increases overall performance in both video and photo capabilities. The Galaxy Camera utilized 4G LTE as well as 3G/2G and WIFI. It can also launch a mobile hotspot via WIFI, Bluetooth and AllShare. The Galaxy Camera is capable of sharing it's screen with a TV that is AllCast or DLNA enabled as well as directly wired.
      Milton Pozo-Mazzini
      • Money well spent (cont.)

        I initially purchased the Galaxy Camera for my girlfriend who, like most women, is photo happy and always complains about how slow photos upload to Facebook or an online photo developer when using her Galaxy S3 or laptop computer. The Galaxy Camera uploads photos en masse with half the time it normally takes. The other complaint was from her friends who always accuse her of with holding photos but now she quickly picks the photos they want and the photos are streamed online or to their own phones. I had little interest in point and shoot or phone cameras and always thought high quality cameras were way too expensive. I quickly found myself drawn to the Galaxy Camera because it not only had an optical lense and a powerhouse of connectivity but it features the expert mode that lets you operate the camera as if you had a professional camera at your fingertip.
        Milton Pozo-Mazzini
  • It is not a smart phone

    as one learns at the bottom of the article. I'm not interested until it is. I'm expecting cameras to include full feature smartphone technology and be sold with SIM card capability like phones and tablets any year now. There's no reason any number of devices shouldn't have fully activated high bandwidth smart phone functionality from the same telecom service.
    • Samsung Galaxy Camera

      I already have a camera as good as the galaxy but mine also has a smartphone included. It's called the Nokia 808 Pureview.
  • Laden with features

    But what I would like to see are some images acquired by it. Maximum zoom and the so called wide angle.
  • well overprised for a point and shoot

    why wont one buy a phone with good camera doing the same and much more?
  • Another confused camera product

    I'm one of many camera folks frustrated with how random camera makers are with adding feature and improvements. A sore point in particular with me is how video is handed: video quality has very steadily improved all around, to the point that your average point and shoot offers 1080p filming. But audio quality has basically gone nowhere. My old Kodak Zi8 came with a mic-in jack and a level control, so getting very good audio for the video was a matter of adding a $20 external mic. Only a couple of non-DLSR or 4/3'rds even offer a mic input, and in the case of this Samsung, it has some sort of oddball jack for stereo out and mono in.
  • not worth it.

    If it could make calls then I could see it being worth it... but as it is.... no, not that price.
  • Another confused camera product

    I'm one of many camera folks frustrated with how random camera makers are with adding feature and improvements. A sore point in particular with me is how video is handed

    site :