Samsung Galaxy Camera has smartphone capabilities
BY ROBERT EVATT World Staff Writer
Saturday, March 09, 2013
3/09/13 at 8:10 AM
Cameras have been attached to smartphones for years now. In a twist, we're now starting to see smartphones attached to cameras.
OK, you won't be using the Samsung Galaxy Camera to make any calls. But the device can do everything else your Android smartphone can - even access cellular networks.
I generally don't review cameras, but the device combo, along with the high-profile Galaxy brand name, was just too much to resist.
The Galaxy Camera, which comes in white or black, is shaped like a typical pocket camera but would have a hard time fitting in one. It's longer and wider than your typical smartphone, not to mention several times thicker. It's also surprisingly heavy for a small camera.
The trade-off is an attractive 4.8-inch touchscreen that dominates the back side. There are no buttons or physical controls at all - it looks like someone glued a smartphone to the back of a camera. It makes for an intriguing and attractive design.
You'll get the Jelly Bean flavor of Android on there, and it runs exactly like every other Android device. You can scroll through pages of apps, customize your pages with widgets, download apps and everything else.
Yes, you can check your email, surf the Web and play Angry Birds, all on a camera. Everything runs well and looks good, so there's no gripes about performance.
Obviously, the camera's functions deviate from the Android norm on a phone. The Galaxy Camera gives you options for total auto-focus, more detailed settings such as landscape or portrait, or total manual focus.
Manual focus gives you all the controls of a more advanced camera such as shutter speed, aperture and brightness. The controls are laid out as virtual click wheels you can rotate, and the camera even gives you pop ups with a brief description of the settings.
Frankly, it's a nice change from the clunky menus and arcane acronyms that bog down the menus of most cameras. Throw in the touchscreen and it may be the easiest camera I've ever used that isn't a point-and-shoot. You've even got instant options to post photos on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Dropbox, email and more.
The 16.1-megapixel pictures taken by the Galaxy Camera look quite good, and you'll be able to zoom up to 21 times. I let photo editor Tom Gilbert play with it and he was pleased by the quality as well, noting the camera works well in low-light situations. He did warn that it's possible to get some blurry photos during action shots.
There's a lot to like, but there are some major downsides as well. The biggest one is the $499 price tag. For that money you could get a decent SLR camera that takes significantly better photos, and I'd guess most people willing to drop that amount of cash expect great performance.
Speaking of price, you'll have to get a cellular data plan, even though it also has Wi-Fi. If you've already got Verizon or AT&T's shared data plans you'll add $5 or $10 per month respectively, but if you don't you'll be looking at a minimum of $30 or $50.
That's a lot to require for a camera. Sure, it's nice to be able to share photos or check the weather, but wouldn't most people willing to have an always-connected camera already have a smartphone that can do all that?
As I mentioned above, the size is an annoyance, and in my time with the Galaxy Camera, it chewed through battery life quickly.
I like the concept, and I'm hoping the manufacturers can build on the idea and make a smart camera that's smaller, cheaper and Wi-Fi-only. But the Galaxy Camera isn't there yet.
Samsung Galaxy Camera
$499 at AT&T, $549 at Verizon
Pros: Easy to use, great screen,
photo-sharing options, good
photos for its class
Cons: Big, heavy, weak battery,
cellular service required, expensive
for a non-SLR
Original Print Headline: Camera has smartphone skills
Robert Evatt 918-581-8447
The Samsung Galaxy Camera is connected to the Internet. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World