Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 Review - The Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 is the latest connected compact to run on Google's Android OS, making it one of the smartest digital cameras on the market. The question is does it manage the fundamentals alongside all the connectivity tricks?
The manufacturer, no doubt benefiting from its extensive consumer electronics division, married the technology of its Galaxy smartphone range with a conventional digital camera in the first generation Galaxy Camera.
Although there were certainly areas in which the Galaxy Camera impressed, unfortunately there were also a host of shortcomings, including the bulky body, a lack of processing power and a short battery life.
The Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 looks to correct these failings, as well as improve on a host of other areas.
The question is how exactly is it going to do so, and also whether or not the camera succeeds.
Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 Review – Features
In terms of the core components of the Galaxy Camera 2, it certainly inherits a lot of its features from its predecessor.
For example, the model features the same 16.3MP, 1/2.3in BSI CMOS sensor as seen before. Although this isn’t a size in keeping with advanced compact cameras, it’s enough to keep up with consumer compacts and certainly larger than that found in your smartphone.
As for the model’s focal range, the Galaxy Camera maintains the same 21x optical zoom covering a focal range of 23-483mm in equivalent terms.
So far, so as you were. However, there are certainly areas in which the camera has been improved.
One criticism of the Galaxy Camera was its operational speed, with the camera proving to be decidedly sluggish when executing certain operations.
This is an issue Samsung attends to with the introduction of a new CPU set-up. The Galaxy Camera 2 features a new 1.6Ghz Quad-Core processor that’s complimented by 2GB of Ram.
Furthermore, the Galaxy Camera 2 sports the Android 4.3 Jellybean OS, one of the more recent incarnations of the software and one that’s sure to provide a smooth operating interface.
Unfortunately, Samsung has seen fit to remove one of the real selling points of the first generation Samsung Galaxy Camera, and that’s the option of utilising a SIM card and connecting wirelessly using either 3G or LTE technology.
In terms of storage the Samsung Galaxy Camera features 8GB of internal capacity as well as offering a Micro SD slot which supports card up to 64GB in size, and shipping with an additional 50GB of cloud storage courtesy of Dropbox.
One other characteristic feature of the Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 that’s been retained from the previous model is the camera’s large LCD screen. The touch screen is one of the very best on any digital camera, measuring in at 4.8in and featuring a 1280 x 720 pixel resolution and has such delivers HD resolution.
Finally, another area at which the Galaxy Camera 2 has been improved is with its battery. The model now features a 2000mAh battery – up from a 1650mAh seen on the predecessor – which, in combination with a host of new power saving modes, should improve the model’s battery life a great deal.
Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 Review – Design
Despite maintaining much of the same specification as its Galaxy Camera predecessor, the Galaxy Camera 2 is actually larger than the previous model measuring in at 71.2 x 32.5 x 19.3mm.
This increase isn’t huge however, and when you compare the cameras alongside one another its quite difficult to sport the difference in size between the two.
The two cameras do appear clearly different in terms of design, however, with the new Galaxy Camera 2 adopting a slightly more retro styling than its predecessor.
Minimal physical controls
Much like the previous model in the series, the Galaxy Camera 2 is lacking on the whole when it comes to physical controls, although the ample LCD touch screen offers more than enough real estate to give good control over the camera’s settings.
In terms of the physical characteristics of the camera the model is largely made up from tough plastic, although this is complimented by a brushed metal top and bottom plate along with a chrome lens barrel.
Touch and shoot
These features, in combination with the faux leather body panels, give welcome remidners of old-style range finders.
In terms of how the camera handles, there’s no denying that it’s quite a bulky and as a result quite difficult to use in the traditional way. For example, if you’d like to use the camera’s shutter button – rather than touch to shoot in the manner Samsung would prefer you did – you’ll find the Galaxy Camera 2 sits a touch unbalanced in the hand.
That being said, the touch focus and shoot functionality is certainly intuitive and would no doubt be the shooting option of choice to those coming from a smartphone shooting background.
The fact that the camera has done away with its 3G connectivity is somewhat of a disappointment here as the camera lends itself naturally to an always-connected nature, however without this option the body does see a touch unnecessarily bulky.
Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 Review – Performance
In terms of general performance, there are certainly signs of improvements on the Galaxy Camera when it comes to the general processing speeds. The bump in the camera’s processing power is noticeable when it comes to capturing a series of images in a row, while switching between various apps and shooting modes is also a more prompt experience.
The LCD screen which takes up the bulk of the camera’s rear screen is as impressive as before. The 4.8in viewing space is a real bonus, while the sharpness and detail of the images displayed is also pleasing.
In terms of the camera’s AF performance, the Galaxy Camera 2 features no significant improvements in this area.
Although the model certainly responds promptly enough when using pinch-zoom and touch focus in good lighting conditions, when the scene presented is lit less than perfectly it does display a slight tendency to hunt for focus.
In terms of general shooting, the Galaxy Camera 2 offers manual shooting settings should you want take control of these yourself. If not, the camera sports some 28 scenes modes from which it will select if you decide to shoot in the smart auto setting.
If you do the chances are that you’ll be rewarded with some good images, as the Galaxy Camera 2 does an excellent job of selecting the right mode to suit a scene and thus delivering a pleasing exposure.
Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 Review – Image Quality
When you consider the Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 sports a 1/2.3in sensor more in keeping with a consumer compact than an advanced model, you could be forgiven for expecting the model to fall short in the image quality department.
On the whole, however, if you’re willing to make certain allowances for the smaller sensor then the Galaxy Camera 2 delivers some fairly reasonable images.
Metering and dynamic range are generally reliable, delivering even exposures in most conditions so long as you avoid particularly bright or reflective subject.
The colour range captured is also fairly faithful to the scene you’re shooting, as is the general tone of images.
Unfortunately image quality is a little let down when it comes to the handling of noise at higher ISO settings. For that matter, even at lower ISO settings the Galaxy Camera 2 struggles, with images from ISO 800 and upwards almost appearing painterly owing to the aggressive noise reduction.
However, when you consider that images captured with the Galaxy Camera 2 are likely to be shared on social media or printed at very modest size, such image quality issues shouldn’t provide any major concerns.
Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 Review – Verdict
Once again, Samsung has succeeded in combining the Android operating system with a compact camera that provides a more complete shooting experience than that found on the model’s smartphones.
However, it’s difficult to judge that Samsung has done enough to improve the Galaxy Camera 2 on the first Galaxy Camera. In fact, it’s safe to say that the Galaxy Camera 2 is a step back for Samsung, with the removal of its 3G functionality a particularly confusing move.
So although there are few, if any, dedicated compact cameras which can match the ample LCD screen or the Android and long zoom combination, the Galaxy Camera is unarguably a step backwards for Samsung.
Sample Image Gallery
Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 Review – Sample Image Gallery
These are just a few images captured with the Samsung Galaxy 2. For more information head on over to the Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 review image gallery.
When the Samsung debuted the first Galaxy Camera in 2012, it caused much interest in the world of photography. The combination of a serious imaging specification with 3G connectivity and Android operating system was one that had long been predicted, and as such there was much anticipation as to how the Galaxy Camera would perform.
Reviews were mixed with most complementing the ambition, although unfortunately the execution left a little to be desired with poor battery life and lack of Raw shooting noted as two major flaws.
The Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 looks to right these wrongs and make further headway in the connected camera market. What Digital Camera Reviews Editor Michael Topham got to spend a few hours with one of the first samples available, so read on the find out what he makes of the latest mode.
One of the most striking things about the first generation Samsung Galaxy Camera was its size. It really was a large camera, and although you can forgive it to a certain extent due to the huge 4.8in screen, as well as the ample 21x optical zoom, the was no escaping its bulk.
The Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 continues this theme, as although it’s a touch lighter weighing in at 283g as opposed to 303g.
Despite the camera’s bulk, it does feel relatively slim line and has a quality feel about it. This is in some part aided by the fact that the glossy plastic finish of before has been dispensed with for a new leatherette finish that provides a grippier surface for single hand shooting.
Any misgivings about the size of the camera are soon dispensed when you appreciate just how impressive the model’s screen is.
At 4.8in it delivers a resolution of 720p and as such offers a composition experience similar to what you would have on a modern smartphone. The screen is also assuringly sensitive, requiring only the slightest of touches to scroll between images and activate the various camera settings.
One of the major criticisms of the previous generation Galaxy Camera was that the battery life was poor to say the least. The good news is that with the new Galaxy Camera 2, Samsung has chosen upgrade the battery and the new unit boasts a capacity of 2000mAH.
In real terms, this meant that when I had the camera out in the field I managed around two hours on constant use without really making a dent on the camera’s battery level. In the past this would have seriously depleted the levels.
This means that you’ll no longer have to worry about carrying around spare batteries, which is a bonus, while the retention of USB charging is also welcome.
Having spent a little time with the Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 it’s clear that it’s an improvement on its predecessor. Although we were unable to test out the model’s image quality, in terms of build quality it’s definitely seen changes for the better.
There are still a few reservations about the camera, the most notable of these being the fact that it still doesn’t support Raw image capture.
However, on the whole trying out the Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 was a positive experience and I look forward to reviews a full production unit in the near future.