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

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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Topic: Mobility
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1 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Samsung Galaxy Camera

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

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.

Hardware

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.

Software

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.

galaxycamera02.jpg
2 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Zoom lens on the Galaxy Camera

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

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.

Hardware

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.

Software

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.

galaxycamera03.jpg
3 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

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

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.

Hardware

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.

Software

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.

galaxycamera04.jpg
4 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Top showing the capture button/zoom control

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5 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Lens extended for usage

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6 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Lens out and flash raised

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7 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Side view of the flash and lens

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8 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Bottom door and misc slots

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9 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Right side with 3.5mm and microUSB ports

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10 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Textured right side front

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11 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Galaxy Camera compared to Note II

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12 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Display of the Galaxy Camera adjacent to the Note II

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13 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Front of the Galaxy Camera

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14 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Night photo taken with the Galaxy Camera

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15 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Photo for comparison, taken with the Galaxy Note II

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16 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Day shot with the Galaxy Camera

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17 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Photo for comparison, taken with the Galaxy Note II

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18 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Characters as captured by the Galaxy Note II

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19 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Photo for comparison, taken with the Galaxy Note II

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20 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Zoomed in view of ship in Alaska

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21 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

View before zooming in

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22 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

View of shipyard before zooming

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23 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Zoomed in view of the shipyard

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24 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Mountain goat in Ketchikan airport

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25 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Native decorations in Ketchikan Alaska

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26 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Flowers

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27 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Close up of flowers

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28 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Looking down open hatches

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29 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Edited collage using the included software

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30 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Filters present in the Galaxy Camera software

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31 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Video editor interface

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32 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Choosing media for editing on the Galaxy Camera

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33 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Editing options

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34 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Photo wizard results

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35 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Vintage photo created on the Galaxy Camera

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36 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

More editing options

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37 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Home screen panel on the Galaxy Camera

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38 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Another home screen on the Galaxy Camera

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39 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

More home screen panels

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40 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Application launcher

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41 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

The app launcher works in landscape too

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42 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

More included apps

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43 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Camera interface on the Galaxy Camera

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44 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Auto options along the top

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45 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Timer options in auto mode

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46 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

More information and options on the Galaxy Camera

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47 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Samsung sharing options

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48 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Smart mode options

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49 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Another view of Smart mode

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50 of 52 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Expert mode

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More expert mode options

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Expert mode settings

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