With so many people using their Android phones as cameras nowadays, it’s not totally surprising that Samsung has chosen to go the other way and build a camera powered by the engine of a Galaxy Android OS 4.1 Jellybean phone (and yes, you can sort of use it as a phone – more on that later).
A quick review of the specs:
If you hold the Galaxy Camera with its beautiful screen facing you, in a portrait orientation, passersby would be forgiven for thinking that you were pecking away on a bulky cellphone, because that’s exactly what it looks and feels like. The only giveaway would be the 21x retractable zoom lens poking out the front.
Samsung’s done a good job of juggling the device’s two personalities. As an Android gadget, you can do everything you would able to do on your phone short of actual SMS/voice: Angry Birds, Facebook, media playback or even telephony via Skype (though with only a front facing camera, video chats require some contortions and calisthenics). Meanwhile, as a photographic tool, you’ve got a well-specced f/2.8-5.9 lens, a whole slew of photo and video recording modes, and that wonderfully bright and sharp screen to preview and review.
But the best part comes with the opportunity to combine both worlds. I attended a baptism where the unlucky father got struck down by chicken pox the night before and couldn’t make it. Not only was I able to capture the event on my Galaxy Camera, I was then able to launch Snapseed, resize and edit the photos, then send them off via Gmail to the bedridden daddy for him to enjoy in real time, thanks to the built in HSPA+ connection and the data SIM card so thoughtfully provided with my review camera. Awesome!
Not so awesome – the baptism photos looked great on the camera screen. But in the real world (or rather, the unflinching spotlight of my MacBook Pro’s screen) the shots that looked passably decent-to-good on playback were mostly blurry, noisy or out of focus. I also need to point out that the Galaxy Camera’s speed and reaction time is good for casual shooting but not much else. Notice how all my sample shots are static subjects? Sigh. It’s not like I could ask the priest to repeat the pouring of the holy water, unfortunately. Sports and action photos? Especially indoor? Don’t even think about it.
I really wanted to like the Galaxy Camera. I drooled over the preview articles when it first came out, and I was fidgety with excitement at the chance to review it. I even had it earmarked as one of those review items that I’m probably going to want to buy for myself. But when the time came to pack it up and ship it back, I didn’t have an ounce of regret or hesitation. I may not have the big zoom lens, but I feel that the photos I take on my phone (a Galaxy s3) are comparable if not some times better. And that’s not really a sentence you want to hear in a review about a camera.
It’s worth bearing in mind that if all you’re looking for in your point and shoot camera is connectivity, there’s a whole slew of WiFi-equipped cameras out there from the major manufacturers, including Samsung itself. However, the Galaxy Camera stands apart in offering a full scale Android operating system, with all the advantages that entails. Samsung has also announced an upcoming variant of the Galaxy Camera called the EK-GC110 that comes with WiFI but no cellular connectivity.
It’s a great toy. It’s just a shame that the actual photographic hardware of the Galaxy Camera isn’t up to the standards of the rest of the device.
Philippine SRP: P23,990
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