Is The Samsung Galaxy Camera A Viable Travel Camera?

March 02, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

In my personal opinion, no. Why?

I bought the Samsung Galaxy Camera pretty much straight after its release as a go anywhere and everywhere camera, so that I didn't have to carry around a DSLR with me all the time. I tried it out in the shop and was mildly impressed with the feature rich Android OS and by the potential for uploading images to my Facebook page and Dropbox all through a wifi connection to my mobile broadband.

The first one I bought had to be swapped out as the lens cover kept sticking open. Not a good start.

Due to being so busy with work, I didn't really give the Galaxy a really good test but I knew that a visit to Rome was coming up so that would be its ultimate test. I took my trusty 5D with me and also thought about taking the little Sony HX9V that proved its worth in Canada but didn't.

The Galaxy is quite large for what is essentially a point and shoot camera. If you think of a Samsung Galaxy S3 phone with a camera stuck to the front, you will know how large it is. Its really too big to fit in a shirt or trouser pocket but I had my North Wind on most of the time so had no issues there. However, the size does make it easy to hold and the screen is massive compared to any other camera I have seen. Physical controls are limited to the zoom control, shutter button, flash button and on\off button. Everything else is controlled from the screen. The zoom and shutter functions can be activated by voice too. I used the "shoot" option a number of times on the trip when resting the camera on bollards for long exposures, works a treat.

Battery life was good, even in the cold temperatures but that was with minimal use of Jellybean and any of the apps I had downloaded. I would imagine if you sat playing Angry Birds for a while the battery would soon run down.

So, functionality of the camera itself. There are three main modes to shoot in, fully auto, smart and manual. Fully auto supposedly picks the best settings for the image. I found this to be flawed in certain circumstances, especially in low light or at night. The Sony HX9V has similar modes and pretty much picks the right mode every time. Not the Galaxy. Even though it has several modes for night or low light, it didn't choose them. After an evening of walking around Rome at night, I had taken many images, all of which went straight into the trash bin due to slow exposure times.

I then experimented with the Smart mode, where you select which type of image you are taking. For the night shots, I found Party to be the best mode for night shots, even though there is a Night mode, weird. Now, one of the biggest disappointments for me was the panorama mode. I can best describe it as RUBBISH! Back to the Sony, in panorama mode, you hit the shutter, sweep in the right direction and keep going until you run out of room, creating one long image. Exposure is taken from when you first hit the button and remains constant. I had some excellent pano's from Canada using this method. I tried some in Rome on the Galaxy. What a nightmare. So you press the shutter to start and you have to move slowly as an individual image is taken whenever the camera thinks it needs one. The problem I experienced was that each image was exposure differently, sometimes with slow shutter speeds, making part of an image blurred compared to the rest. It also didn't deal with perspective very well.

Manual mode is manual mode, same as any other camera really, allowing you to set Av, Tv, P or M and then adjust the settings accordingly.

What shall I say about the flash. Its harsh! There needs to be a flash compensation option somewhere as I felt that most shots taken with the flash of people where blown out a little. I know, on-camera flash can be harsh but not this much.

Finally, image quality. Not impressed really. Yes, its a point and shoot and will not be up to DSLR standards but even so. Its OK for those that want to use this camera for snaps and social media but as a travel camera, not good enough in my opinion. Poor choice of settings by the camera probably plays most part.

Will I be using the Samsung Galaxy Camera again on a travel shoot, no. Its just not up to it. I will use it for family events and parties where I can quickly get images uploaded to Facebook and Twitter but thats about it.


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