Samsung Galaxy Camera EK-GC100 Review: Most connected camera ever
[tabgroup][tab title="Packaging and Hardware"]
The Galaxy Camera comes in a pretty compact box made of hard and durable cardboard. Design of the box is similar to those of Sammy’s high-end Smartphones. You get the microUSB data cable with the USB wall adapter, wrist strap and the 1650mAh battery apart from the camera body.
Design and built
The body of the camera is all metal except the backup, all of which is occupied by the huge 4.3-inch super clear LCD screen. This metal and glass construction adds to the overall weight, but at the same time gives that extra class and durability. You won’t believe how amazing the marble white colour looks on metal with that extra shine that we’ve missed on the plastic bodies of Note 2 for example. The right hold has a texture that makes it easier to operate with one hand.
The front has the 23mm f/2.8 lens and the auto focus assist lamp. On top you have the pop-up flash, power button and the shutter release button with the zoom lever. On the bottom you have the tripod mount and the battery and SD card compartment. There is a mini HDMI port here that can be accessed without opening the battery flap. On the right you have the microUSB port (so it can be charged with a cellphone charger) and on the left side are the flash trigger button and speaker.
The back is all glass but the display leaves slight space towards right for your thumb to rest.
[/tab][tab title="UI, Usability, Features and Connectivity"]
The Galaxy Camera is powered by Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean. In fact the whole UI is a pure Android experience plus the advance camera controls. You have the usual homes screens (7 at the max) with long-hold to add widgets abilities. The app dock only holds the camera icon – you can’t add anything, you can’t remove the camera icon which means that it stays there all the time for easy toggle between the camera and rest of the functions. The main app menu looks same like on a Galaxy, and the three soft shortkeys are usual too – back, home and setting. You can install all Android apps from the Play store, and will receive messages and mails. Only thing you can’t do, not atleast on the stock ROM, is calling.
Once you press the camera icon, the magic starts happening. It straightaway pushes the lens out, and takes you to the dedicated camera interface. You have the home and arrow button above. Pressing the arrow will expand it and show you more applicable content. These include preference, toggle for voice command, flash, self-timer, movie size and share. These stay constant across various scenes, Auto and advance modes albeit with selective availability. You can go to preference to change the default behaviour of each of the above mentioned. Although it can be toggled from the quick setting above, restarting the device will reset all quick toggles to the default settings.
Broadly there are three modes – Auto, Smart and Expert. Auto is self-explanatory and the camera takes care of all. The Smart mode has a few quick scenes like beauty face, best shot, continuous shot, best face, landscape, macro, panorama, action freeze, rich tone, waterfall, silhouette, sunset, night, firework and light trace.
The Smart mode has program, aperture priority, shutter priority and full manual mode displayed in a brilliant virtual lens body. You have different settings available at different modes.
The camera has most of the controls at comfortable places. The quick setting menu on the top left is a bit hard to reach with your right hand while operating with one hand but that can be considered as a trade-off for having a large LCD.
Removing of the SIM and microSD cards doesnot need the battery to be removed. The right side of the monitor has been left unoccupied to accommodate your thumb – a subtle but useful usability factor.
Another neat trick we liked was the separate flap of the mini HDMI port that doesnot require you to open the battery compartment.
Most of the controls are touch making the operations faster for the touch Smartphone users.
Jelly Bean on the Galaxy Camera makes the otherwise modest software Interface concept of other cameras to a whole new level. It gives you a full-fledged OS with lots of connectivity, communication, editing and sharing options that are not possible in any other cameras.
Host of sharing options
3G ensures on-the-go sharing as well.
Lots of powerful scene modes let you capture effects without manually setting the device. However these settings are keeping in mind a generalized environment so you might have to tweak them a bit depending on the actual situation you’re in.
Big screen, fast processor
The 4.3-inch LCD makes advance editing images and videos possible with the wide range of apps available. The quad-core chip ensures there is no lag in touch operations.
21x optical zoom
21x optical zoom is very fine for a 1/2.3-inch sensor. OIS should help.
The Galaxy Camera stretches the limit of connectivity on a camera body. It has Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, 3G, 2G, AllShare, Kies, microUSB out, mini HDMI out, 3.5mm jack and everything you’d expect from an Android ecosystem.
The system is fast with just a little lag when vibration on screen tapping enabled. Most of the touch keys work flawlessly, in fact at times it reduces shake because there’s no extra effort in pressing it like in case of a physical button.
A brilliant feature is the Exposure preview. While changing various configurations in advance mode, you can see the exposure preview on the LCD so that you already know how the picture will look like.
The Galaxy Camera’s colour saturation are very good, and you’ll see RGBs coming out a little more saturated than usual, which I like personally but can be a little nagging for some people.
The colours are true and vibrant even under harsh sunlight.
The metering works perfectly with center-weighted and multiple point giving out distinct and expected results.
Under artificial light again the colours are more saturated than usual. However the yellow tinge is very less which is a good thing.
We like the Active D-lighting as well. Check out the photo below where you can even make out the time in front and the red strip coming out of the left front seat.
The low-light performance is just above average despite of being a BSI sensor, with significant increase in no. of grains beyond ISO 800.
The OIS helps to a great when you keep slowing the shutter speed down but won’t give that tech-sharp photo.
Video recording quality is very crisp with no fuzziness. The autofocus is not continuous here so if you suddenly zoom in all the way the auto-focus motor will get confused. However it focusses pretty fast at shorter zooming distances.
You can click up to 6 snapshots, each of a resolution of 2304 x 1728 px while recording. The snapshots are of great quality, too.