Where is the next advancement in compact camera or mirrorless camera technology set to come from? Canon, Nikon, Pentax or Olympus?
The answer is Samsung, who in launching their new Galaxy 3G EK-GC100 16 megapixel camera has managed to combine all the features one needs in a compact camera with the full power of the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS. And for good measure, they have built in a powerful 1.4GHz Quad Core processor which does a lot of the processing grunt work when multiple images are stitched together in Panorama mode.
The camera, which fits snugly in the hand despite having a massive 4.8-inch, 1,280 x 720 (308 ppi) display, looks and feels different from most other compact or mirrorless cameras. It’s also reasonably priced at $599 considering the only thing missing to turn it into a really smart to end smartphone is a keypad.
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The large edge-to-edge display makes a big difference, especially as the device has access to all of the applications normally available to an Android smartphone.
Having a touch-enabled viewfinder on a compact camera is certainly advantageous as it allows one to easily access buttons such as mode, video and camera.
Onboard is WiFi and the ability to insert a data SIM which allows one to instantly click an image and transfer to a cloud based storage environment such as Dropbox.
This is not a top of the range camera; it is a highly practical camera that shoots excellent images and video making it ideal for most family use and small businesses, such as a real estate agent who can shoot high resolution video and panorama images with ease.
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On the outside is a flash release button and a pop up strobe flash. One can also zoom in and out using a finger control on the right side edge of the camera which is where Samsung has built in a handy finger grip. The zoom toggle and shutter release is easily accessible.
The Galaxy Camera isn’t any common camera. It has 8GB of on-board storage space, that you can expand to 64GB using a microSD card.
The device has a 1650mAh battery that can be charged using the same micro USB charger that one uses for most smartphones.
At the heart of the device is a 1/2.33-inch BSI CMOS sensor capable of 16-megapixel snaps, this is ample. I was able to easily shoot a high quality video as well as still images and I found that the finger grip design allowed me to hold the camera especially in a vertical position with ease.
Under the bonnet of this camera is a very easy to use menu system which for the first time in any format delivers both menu options along with images and instruction so that a user actually knows what they are adjusting inside the “expert” menu system.
It’s like a pro camera for dummies.
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When you activate the auto mode, you instantly have access to a touch focus system with all of the grunt work done by the onboard computer.
In the smart pro mode which can be accessed via the mode button on the touch screen users get access to 10 different scenarios, such as the waterfall trace and night trace options, which slow down the shutter speeds when shooting daylight or evening photography.
An application called Best Group Pose will automatically select the ideal portrait of you and your friends, while Share Shot lets you use WiFi Direct to send content to your friends who also own a Galaxy camera or smartphone.
The Galaxy Camera’s 21x zoom lens and a 16-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor runs rings around most other compact cameras and because Samsung has a built in 1.4GHz quad core processor functions are performed quickly.
The 21x, f/2.8-5.9, 23-480mm lens delivers enough lens options for both consumer and business use. Images are sharp even when shot in low light and in macro mode.
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|Shoots great images: Balmoral Beach|
A big advantage with this device is the inclusion of a SIM card this allows a user to shoot images and automatically download them to a Dropbox account which means that if the camera is stolen or lost the images are safe.
Another big advantage with this device is that you can make VOIP calls using the Skype application. All you have to do is go to the Google Play Store which appears on the screen when you hit the home button, download the Skype application, plug in a pair of headphone with inline voice controls and you can immediately place Skype calls.
In my initial testing I got between six and seven hours battery life and that included heavy use of the device as a camera and video recorder.
Because of the inclusion of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean you can easily access favourite imaging apps from Google Play. On the opening screen Samsung has already included Paper Artist and Instagram as well as Video Editor.
Also on board are native sharing and sorting options, including a device-wide search tool that lets you locate shots based on a face tag, location or time.
The Auto Cloud Backup feature delivers real time redundancy by sending your photos wirelessly as you shoot, though you do have to be connected to a wireless network to activate this feature.
It’s innovative, easy on the eyes and highly functional in the hand, It also shoots excellent images and video. With the Galaxy 4G EK-GC100 Samsung has taken camera management to a new level by the integration of software that allows users to better understand the functions of the device and above all instructions on how to use these functions to get a better digital picture experience.
The fact that it has a 14GHz quad core processor and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is a big advantage but the real heart and soul of this device is that it is a digital camera that will put pressure on traditional camera companies to lift their game.
This is a 5/5 device.
What’s missing is accessories such a decent camera case or mini tripod. A slot for a hot swap flash would also be an advantage especially if you want to use a stronger flash with its own battery pack.