Samsung Galaxy Camera
Vivid 4.8in rear display is largest ever on a digital camera; can connect to the internet direct from the camera via any available Wi-Fi network; 21x optical zoom offers plentiful framing options for 16 megapixel stills or Full HD video; can update and customise the camera via downloadable apps
Easy to get lost in the flashy features and forget that this is actually a camera too; asking price is high for a camera of only snapshot quality, removable media is the small and fiddly microSD; larger than the average pocket snapshot too
Samsung has made a great success of its Galaxy tablets and Galaxy phones, so it was inevitable that we’d see a Galaxy Camera before too long, offering the ability to hook up with both devices for photo and video sharing. Unsurprisingly the boast here is for the best camera features you can’t find on smartphones, combined with smartphone features you can’t find on other cameras, such as internet access via Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G. Powered by the latest Android ‘Jelly Bean’ OS, to the extent that initial set up screens still refer to the product as ‘your phone’ – we get a host of popular ‘apps’ pre-loaded on the camera – including the ubiquitous Instagram and direct access to Dropbox. But it can’t make calls, and isn’t explicitly designed for doing so. That said there’s always the option to utilise Skype and a Bluetooth headset.
It’s worth noting that, despite the sleek rectangular design, the Galaxy is physically larger than what we’d normally classify as a ‘compact’. The ‘blame’ for that is put down to the whopping 4.8in screen that swallows up the whole of its back plate. That’s the largest monitor found on any consumer digital camera to date. Unsurprisingly, apart from a top plate button to power the camera up, and a second to fire the shutter and control the zoom, operation here is completely touch panel based. Well almost. You can activate an on-board voice command feature if wished, allowing you to shoot and zoom without moving a digit.
You only have to play with the Galaxy Camera for a short while before the penny drops. This is basically a tablet computer with a 21x optical zoom lens stuck on the back, or the front, depending on whether you’re viewing the device in conventional camera terms. It’s what one might imagine an Apple camera might look like, should it ever get around to releasing one, particularly in the Samsung’s minimalist white incarnation. Regular black, copper orange and wine red are among the alternatives we’ve chanced across at foreign trade shows.
What perhaps lets the Galaxy Camera down, for all its innovation and greater ease of use when compared to the only other Android powered camera on the market at the time of writing in Nikon’s S800c, is the fact that like the Nikon its sensor is no larger than that found in the average snapshot camera. That’s a shame, particularly when physically smaller Samsung cameras like its NX1000 and NX210 pack in larger DSLR-sized APS-C chips. However, its maker has already hinted we may see larger sensors in future updates.
Macworld Australia‘s buying advice
Naturally we’re paying a premium here for the innovation on display, whilst over-paying for ‘mere’ snapshot quality images, but there is little doubt that one day all cameras will be made this way.