For most of my mobile photography, I have used an Apple iPhone 5 and many different editing applications (apps). The goal always being to take and edit the photo within the phone, the image never leaves the phone until posted on one of my websites or my Instagram account (imagesbykevin). I have always been intrigued by the more “serious” mobile cameras, and these cameras offer cell phone connectivity with better lenses and sensors. These cameras use the Android operating system, and until recently, the two more robust entries in this market are the Nikon Coolpix S810C and Samsung Galaxy camera.
Earlier this spring, Samsung unveiled the second entry into the fully Android camera with the “cleverly” named Galaxy Camera 2. On a recent trip to my local Costco to load up on bottled water, toilet paper, and garbage bags, a Samsung display caught my eye. Ultimately, the Galaxy camera found a spot in the shopping cart alongside all the necessary provisions listed above. Costco had a reasonable price, offering $100 off the listed price of $449. Listed below are my impressions of this camera while testing it out on recent trips to Vermont, Boston, and right here on Long Island (included are sample photos).
The two most important aspects of a camera’s image quality are the sensor and the lens, in this case, there has been no upgrade on the new model – it uses the same CMOS sensor and lens as its predecessor. One would have hoped for updates here. This camera is also Wi-Fi only as Samsung decided to drop the 3G/4G cell service of the first version, just as well since the transfer of the 16 MP images would burn through most data plans quickly. This new version does offer a more robust battery, which can allow up to 400 shots before needing a recharge. The back of the camera provides a bright, crisp 4.8 inch LCD screen with a very responsive touch screen. The screen is a little too sensitive, and it is easy to unknowingly change settings as your hands fly across the screen while taking photos. The camera offers no external controls, so all configurations must be selected using the touch screen. The camera provides both auto program mode and full manual operation with a lens that offers a maximum aperture of 2.8 when less is set to it’s widest and 5.6 when the 21x lens is fully deployed. However, the camera’s focus seems to be a little soft when the lens is fully extended. Both these settings offer excellent choices for the creative photographer. There is also a full list of expert pre-set scene modes if you want to let the camera handle everything. The camera also includes a standard pop-up flash.
The camera has acceptable image quality when there is plenty of light, and using low ISO settings. I would not recommend going over ISO 200 if you intend to print any of your photos. If you want to post most of your pictures to social networks only for small screens, then you can go to higher ISO’s. This camera is not a replacement for a traditional point and shoot or DSLR cameras, and most “regular” cameras in this price range offer far better image quality. This camera is an excellent replacement for smartphone photos and provides an upgrade in image quality. Bottom line – if you are looking strictly at image quality, you should continue to use a “regular” camera. However, if you like to snap better quality mobile photos, answer emails and texts, play your favorite Android games and watch the latest movie release on your Netflix account, then this camera fits the bill.