Capture the galaxy with this smart camera

Last Updated: Mon, Dec 03, 2012 04:10 hrs

If there is one thing becoming increasingly clear about android cameras, it is that they are going to be incredibly good looking devices. Close on the heels of the Nikon COOLPIX S800C, the first-ever Android-powered point-and-shoot that Business Standard reviewed early last month, the Samsung Galaxy Camera, also powered by the same platform, is, too, a great looker.

Yet, breaking the photographic adage of ‘good camera come in big packages’, this Samsung beauty is packed in a frugal, almost Apple-esque box. That said, as a battle brews between the Korean electronics giant and the Cupertino, California-headquartered US behemoth, this brand new offering also possibly embodies Samsung's prowess in combining its ability to make good cameras and great Android-powered devices. More so, because the Samsung Galaxy Camera might actually be a better Christmas buy than the mildly disappointing Nikon COOLPIX S800C.

That’s not to say there isn't a payoff. The Samsung Galaxy Camera is Rs 10,000 more expensive than the Nikon, but spend a little time toying with the former and it’s not difficult to understand why the Japanese powerhouse has been beaten in this fight. Unlike the Nikon variant's 3.5-inch OLED touch panel, Samsung’s new baby has a 4.77-inch HD touch display. And, if you thought the Nikon display was good, as we did back then, wait till you have your fingers tapping on this one.

Given that the touch screen is the only interface there is, in the absence of a viewfinder, the bigger (and more reactive) the screen, the better — and so, the Samsung starts a winner. Inside sits a 16.3-megapixel CMOS sensor, the same size as that of the Nikon, but drawing from the benefit of a larger form factor that the Samsung has, it packs in 21X zoom, more than double of the its competitors’ 10X. At its widest, the lens open up to F2.8, with a maximum ISO of 3200, and the image stablisation performs even at 1/30 seconds, handheld. So, even low light images won’t be ghastly unless you can’t hold still. Taken together, it’s a fairly neat package, if you can digest the price.

The other advantage of the bigger 4.77-inch is that it brings the user much closer to a real Android experience on the camera, apart from the fact that Samsung runs on the newer Android 4.1 Jellybean instead of the Nikon's older Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Not only does Samsung’s screen feels more responsive and sharper, which means navigating around is easier and YouTube videos, for instance, run quick, fast and crystal clear. The Galaxy Camera comes preloaded with Instagram, Dropbox and the usual Google apps. With their camera controls, too, Samsung hasn’t failed. And getting to the 15 scene modes is intuitive, and even on the manual shooting mode it’ll take a regular DSLR user under a minute to figure out the controls. One can’t but wonder that in designing these things it probably helps that Samsung is among the world’s largest maker of mobile phones.

But let’s not get carried away. After all, this is a camera, not a phone. So, how does the Samsung Galaxy Camera shoot? Pretty good, actually. Shots are crisp, the zoom fairly quickly, though the autofocus lags a little bit, especially zooming into faraway subjects and the massive display ensures that the shooting modes are easily accessible. What could have made this enticing Android camera more fun was if Samsung had worked a little more on making the device more comfortable to hold — and probably, a spot more affordable, too!

Price: Rs 29,990

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