03.22.2013Personal Tech

Guest Post: JD Rudd's Samsung Galaxy Camera Review

JD Headshot 2013

JD Rudd is a Kansas-born meteorologist working in the Wichita area.

What happens when you leave your cell phone and your digital camera alone, in a dark place overnight? You get the Frankenstein known as the Samsung Galaxy Camera from Verizon Wireless! Camera lovers rejoice. But you might be asking, is it worth it? Is it better than a typical point-and-shoot camera? And, can I still check Facebook? The answer to all these questions is a resounding “yes”. Let’s take a closer look at the latest offerings from Samsung on this point-and-shoot, smart-camera.

Basic Specifications:

-16.3 megapixel camera-F2.5-5.9 4.1-86.1mm lens (21x optical zoom)
-ISO 100-3200
-Android 4.1.1 with TouchWiz, powered by a fast quad-core 1GHz processor
-WiFi + 3G/4G LTE connectivity
-Large 4.77-inch HD LCD touchscreen

All right then, that’s the nerdy rundown of the main features of the camera, but what can you and I actually do with it? I think the cool thing here is that you are getting more than just a “phone camera”. Sure, the camera technology in most phones has gotten better over the years, but if you’re like me, then there have been several times where you’ve wished you had an actual camera with you to snap a few good photos. Enter the Galaxy Camera.

Off the top, here is what I believe to be the biggest draw of this camera: you can take some awesome photos and INSTANTLY share them. Where? Pretty much anywhere! Your blog, to Facebook, add them to Twitter or Instagram. This isn’t a cell phone camera... it’s a camera with all the abilities of a cell phone, except you can’t make calls or send texts. BUT... many of us these days use our “phones” for entertainment and to take those photos. So it appears Samsung has realized this and is trying to capitalize on it.

What’s even better here is that this camera runs on the always-fast, always-on 4G LTE network offered up by Verizon Wireless. Rest assured, it also has Wi-Fi, so if you’re worried about hitting data limits, you’re okay.

Now, since this is a camera, I won’t go into too much detail about all the Android features offered on this device. Again, it’s running JellyBean 4.1.1 so it can do just about everything you’d expect from an android device (yes, you can play Angry Birds and 4 Pics 1 Word).


So, unlike your cell phone camera, this one is a little more in-depth. When you first power on the device (which can take a little while), you are greeted by the typical camera screen, but there are a couple options on the right side of the screen. The different camera modes. You get “auto”, where the camera does all the work for you (simply put: the basic “point and shoot”). Then there is a “Smart Mode”, where you can select several different options depending on what shot you are after. For example, you can choose Action Shot, Panoramic, Macro (for up-close photos), Night Mode, Beauty Shot, etc”. There are quite a few options here and from the ones I tried, they worked out well. I know many are playing with panoramic shots and this camera does a great job capturing panoramic photos. One of the best I’ve seen in a while I believe.

The other mode is “Expert Mode”. All you real camera junkies will like this. It allows you to adjust the f-stop, the exposure, contrast, photo speed, etc. Now while I am not a professional photographer, I have dabbled in the field a bit way back when. This mode would be handy if you’re trying to capture lightning photos and want to leave the shutter open for a while (use a tripod!) or if you want to achieve a different or unique effect. Again, the serious camera people will know how to utilize this mode best. Just know the option is there if you desire!

Another thing worth mentioning here is that this camera has an actual zoomable lens on it. Most cameras use a digital zoom, which basically means the software is digitally zooming into the image. In the case of this camera, you have a lens that will do the zooming so you do not lose any quality. This is great if you’re trying to capture an image at a distance, like a group photo, or if you REALLY want to zoom in on that slice of pizza you’re about to chow down on! I was impressed with the quality and the ability of the actual zoom. Now, once you “cross over” and get into the 21x digital zoom, you will start to lose quality and the image will get grainy.

The camera flash is good. It’s also hidden. You push a little button and it pops up on the side of the top of the camera. Just something to remember!

I put this as the next main topic because with any electronic device these days, battery life is something we all wonder and worry about. A device can be great, but if the battery stinks, then what’s the point? Well, on the Galaxy Camera I was VERY surprised. After our first snow storm, I spent the day outside shooting random photos, reviewing them, and shooting more. I also setup a few apps on the device and uploaded my photos to Dropbox. Despite doing all of this, I did not have to charge the battery for THREE MORE DAYS! I’m not kidding. This battery rocks. Now, that said, I wasn’t using the internet (yes, you can browse the web, it’s got Wi-Fi & 4G LTE remember!) nor was I using a lot of the apps. But I figured using the camera and video features would wear the battery out pretty fast. This was not the case. So if you are worried about getting through a recital or a concert, don’t be. The battery will last! I am quite impressed.

Like most still cameras these days, you also get a video camera. And this one does a great job capturing video just like it does taking photos. You get the basic video features and the ability to review the videos after shooting them. I thought the videos looked great in most conditions. But remember, this is not a professional video camera, so there will be minor issues... it does struggle a bit in low light. And at times it doesn’t seem to focus where I would like it to focus. That said, it still takes great videos and if you’re looking to capture your friends being funny/goofy and then post it to Facebook, this will work just fine.The camera shoots in 1080p HD of course. And with this camera having an actual lens on it, you can zoom in and not worry about grainy photos. Once you cross into the digital zoom, however, that changes a little.Another awesome little (almost hidden) feature on this camera is the ability to shoot in slow motion. Why would you need to do that? I ask you, why not?! Ha! Seriously, it’s a fun little mode to tinker with. For example, shoot on slow motion at a sporting event and watch it back. Gather some friends and just jump around or shake your head around, capture it in slow-mo, then watch it back and laugh yourself silly. As with many video devices, you can also snap photos WHILE you are recording. So if you’re recording a video and a friend makes a goofy face, press the shutter button and quickly capture that image. Handy feature!

Again, I won’t spend a lot of time on this because it’s an Android device and you can run every type of Android app on the camera. What I want to focus on here (no pun intended) is that you can download several photo enhancement apps - if you desire - in order to give your photos that extra bit of uniqueness. You can use PhotoGrid and group several photos together to make a collage of sorts. You can add in filtering and doodle apps that will let you add a variety of things to your photo. And you can even download the new Photoshop app and alter your photos until your heart’s content!

Overall, this is a fantastic camera with a large assortment of options available to the user. It has a terrific battery, takes wonderful, clear photos and has all the abilities of many portable devices. I mean, you can check social media, browse the web, play a few games, AND take awesome photos/videos.
What are some things I didn’t like about the camera? Well, there aren’t many but there are a few. First thing I noticed: this thing is heavy and bulky. But, it has to be. With the large screen and the zoom lens, it’s going to add some weight. For most people, you slip your cell phone into your pocket and you hardly know it’s there. If you put this thing into your pocket, purse or whatever, you will know it’s there! It’s also a little expensive. I know many will find it difficult to buy a device that is almost as expensive as a cell phone, but can’t make calls. That said, if you are in the market for a good point-and-shoot camera, you’re going to spend a couple hundred dollars anyway. And this one not only gives you the camera ability, but you can instantly share the photos/video. That right there I think is the biggest thing to remember. How many times have you used a normal camera, taken a few photos and then did nothing with them because it was a pain to upload them? Not here. Snap then upload in seconds.

The takeaway here: if you are in the market for a good digital camera that has features just like your smartphone, here it is. The battery is great, the features are rich and it runs on the uber-fast 4G LTE network from Verizon. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention: there are two color choices here, black and white. So perhaps that will entice you a little bit too. As always, if you have any detailed questions for me, I would be happy to answer them!

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