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As a fan of the Mac I find it hard to avoid news of the constant sniping, litigation and general blazing that is going on between Apple and Samsung over alleged patent infringements, new developments, new products and amazing improvements to existing iDevices.
However, in a way, I see the Apple vs Samsung barney as a good thing, with the eventual outcomes arriving as radical new devices and/or useful advances in many products.
So, it is in this environment that I am reviewing a newcomer from the Dark Side! Move over Microsoft, there’s a new boy in town.
As Samsung says: This is the first Galaxy Camera, featuring Wi-Fi connectivity and Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) software. It combines high performance photography with mobile technology ….
Straight out of the box, the camera is simply gorgeous in its all-white livery, with dramatic relief as you turn it around to show the enormous 12.2cm rear screen in black (with power off!). Very Apple!
Whilst it’s pocketable, it is much larger than many compact digicams.
If you’re not a patient screen tapper you may find the comprehensive touch screen interface a bit of a challenge at first: you go nowhere unless you tap! External controls are minimal: tiny power button on top, nearby is the shutter button and zoom lever; left edge is where you tap a button to raise the onboard flash cell.
The camera’s right edge houses a mini HDMI port; beneath the camera is a latch which, when raised gives access to the battery, memory card and SIM card.
Re the touch screen: once familiar with it I found life to be trés trés easy and much better than many cameras’ convoluted menus.
To begin with, you must encounter the main screen which has icons for virtually all your needs: apps such as Paper Artist, Instagram and Photo Wizard can be triggered here.
I immediately went to Camera which took me to the exposure options I needed to run the camera.
Three on screen options: Auto, Mode and Video.
Mode was my next stop; in this department I could select Auto (again), Smart and Expert. Smart gave me on screen visual examples of image treatments that could impart such effects as Beauty Face, Continuous (a burst of shots), Macro, Rich tone, Light Trace, Panorama etc.
The Expert option was obviously my next stop if I was to raise my skills above auto shooting: here I could choose Program AE, shutter or aperture priority, manual exposure and video (again). An interesting display: a lens barrel showing choices of ISO setting, exposure compensation and aperture selection.
The maximum lens aperture is f2.8, which shrinks to f5.9 when the 21x zoom is extended to its ultimate 35 SLR equivalent of 481mm.
Video can be shot in MPEG4 at 1920×1080 or 720×480 res. I found the Galaxy camera to be excellent as a video camera: it smoothly helped auto focus to sharpen up on subjects as I moved around; the large screen, even held at waist height, made it an excellent viewfinder when on the move.
There’s a whole heap of fun awaiting for you when you get into the software side of the camera: users can browse the Web and download applications from Google Play or the Samsung Apps stores.
Built in voice control allows you to tell the camera what to do! What a party starter! Simply call out Smile! Shoot! Zoom in! and other commands to get the camera to perform under your control. And it works!
I did discover that settings such as voice operation on/off, lens aperture setting and ISO and are cancelled after a restart.
About 23 seconds before I could fire off the first shot. This possibly because it’s booting the Android operating system.
No problems at the wide and the tele end of the zoom.
Hopefully, it was only this camera, but I did find that dust spots appeared when the lens was set at full tele.
At ISO 400 a drop in sharpness and a lift in noise is apparent; by ISO 800 these are even worse; by ISO 3200 these problems make the image unusable.
Quality: about average; no more.
Why you would buy the Samsung Galaxy: it’s the latest iDevice.
Why you wouldn’t: expensive for a camera; despite its glamorous Android and Wi-Fi trappings it’s no more than a point-and-shoot digicam; you hate touch screens.
My experience with the Galaxy camera was a positive one. Thrown upon the seeming ‘rocks’ of a totally touch screen menu with no external controls left me with no scars … in fact, it gave me a glimpse of a possible future for digicams totally equipped this way: large screens, no external controls, touch screen operation.
From a cold start, the camera seemed to take an eternity to get to operational readiness: as I’ve already mentioned, it took about 23 seconds to get going, after a series of glam startup screens.
The leaflet tucked into the camera box is totally inadequate; go to www.samsung.com/us/support/owners/product/EK-GC100ZWAATT to download a useful 134 page PDF manual.
Be careful you don’t load a memory card into the SIM slot by accident; it can be difficult to remove.
If you have difficulty saving images to the memory card, try re-formatting the card. It saved my day!
Let the fun continue!
Also in black.
Image Sensor: 16.3 million effective pixels.
Sensor Size: 11mm CMOS.
Lens: f2.8-5.9/4.1-86.1mm (23-481mm as 35 SLR equivalent).
Image Stabiliser: Optical.
Metering: Multi, centre-weighted, face detection.
Shutter Speed: (Auto) 1/8 to 1/2000; (Manual) 16 to 1/2000 second.
Continuous Shooting: 20 shots at 3.8 fps.
Memory: micro SD, micro SDHC, micro SDXC cards plus 8GB internal memory.
GPS Location Tagging: Yes.
Image Sizes (pixels): 4068×3456 to 1024×768.
Movies: 1920×1080 and 1280×720 (both 30fps); 640×480 (30 and 60fps) and 320×240 (30fps) and 768×512 (slo mo 120fps).
Viewfinder: 12.2cm LCD.
File Formats: JPEG, MPEG4, AAC, WAV etc.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 3200.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini, Wi-Fi, GPS equipped, DC.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion.
Weight: Approx. 305 g (inc battery).
Price: Get a price on the Samsung Galaxy Camera on Amazon.