Holding the future of digital photography in my Android loving hands :: Testing the Samsung Galaxy SMART camera!

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There have been a few times in my photography career that I have felt like I was holding the future in my hands. This past week has been the most recent one. I have been testing the new Samsung Galaxy SMART Camera and I can say that it is a digital photography innovation that really does make so much sense. The melding of high quality photography and instant connectivity makes the allure/appeal of this device obvious. As soon as I took the camera out to photograph my kids, I could hear it spark conversations all around me… From the group of hipster 20 something women on the train to grown men with really BIG DSLRs. Everyone wants to see what it is and ask me all about it.

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The kids are on school holidays still so every day is some sort of excursion. These trips are less about actually going somewhere, but more to ward off cabin fever…for all of us. Luckily, Melbourne is a perfect city for that and we have been taking the Galaxy Camera on our adventures from the back yard, to the beach and even into the big city!

First shots on Auto on the trampoline in the backyard.

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Train shots are Auto and then Aperture Priority mode + a simple curves edit in the PicsPlay Pro app.

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There is so much to love about this camera. In fact, there is too much to put in one post, but let me break down some of my favorites for you.

While there can be a bit of shutter lag with digital point and shoot, I was able to use the Continuous Shot SMART mode to catch the car mid-flight zooming down the hot wheels ramp. Love that. This image from Instagram…

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As a photographer – I love the 21x optical zoom with image stabilization, great image quality with 16MP files and complete control over settings.

Below are SOOC shots to show you the zoom from my comfy spot on the beach. From the widest to the most zoomed in and one shot in between without ever having to get up off my towel.

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As a blogger – I appreciate not having to take my DSLR to capture the day to day, yet not having to rely on my phone’s camera for blog post content. I love having content go live on the blog faster by editing and uploading images directly from the camera into posts (Hello current event, tech, travel and fashion bloggers!). If it is happening, you can capture great quality images of whatever IT is and get it out to your readers right away.

But let me talk about the camera as a mom.
It is lightweight as you would expect from a compact camera. It has a micro SD card slot to save A LOT of pictures without worry and a SIM slot for data connection on the go. I even have it set to automatically upload every shot to a private Google gallery when on WiFi so that I have an automatic backup of my memories.

A few of my favorite features are…

1) Macro Smart Mode :: so very sharp! It was perfect for getting the details of our adventures…even the one that included the spider on the trampoline.

Warning! MACRO SPIDER PHOTOS COMING UP!

We saved the spider off the trampoline on a really hot day, revived him in the air conditioned house and then set him free in the cool evening. Used a cute little tripod that I picked up for about $3.00 at the local Daiso store. Handy little thing. The tripod, not the spider.
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Look at the loved up Nunny! With Macro mode, you can see all the missing fabric and stitching.

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2) Full control :: OK, this is more of a photographer-based like, but I know mums want to get great shots of their kids, so with these options, you can ensure you are taking the shot you want and not just letting the camera decide everything on Auto. You can start with the scene modes, or advance straight to manual everything from the exposure settings to white balance. With the live view on the giant LCD, you can adjust these things in real time. All of it controlled by touch…just like you are already used to doing with your SMART phone. You don’t even need to press the shutter release button on the top of the camera as you can just touch the camera icon on the screen to take a photo.

All the photos of my son below were taken in full manual mode. The diptych shows Auto versus Daylight white balance. The bottom two shots were edited in camera.

diptych-manual-white-balance

curves-edit-manual-settings

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3) Android editing :: Since the camera runs on the Android platform (with which I am quite familiar) I can edit the images on the device. Again, with the kids out of school, I have so much less time to do anything on the computer. As a photographer, I was a bit worried that I might not be able to trust the accuracy of the colors on the LCD, but when I pulled the images up on my calibrated desktop screen, I found they were pretty spot on. I have the device’s screen mode set to Standard as I found Dynamic to be too bright and Movie to be too brown. I have tried every app on the market (including the one from Samsung that comes loaded with the device) and have settled on PicsPlay Pro (Just $4) for the Galaxy camera because it handles the full resolution files (they are huge). It has hundreds of Fx that are adjustable so you can make subtle edits. The app also has the ability to edit images with curves which is my go to adjustment in Photoshop on my desktop. I do also love Snapseed, but the files from this camera are too large for that app and get resized before processing.

Here you can see the original (I loved his long eyelashes and hint of blue nail polish) and then the same shot cropped and edited with a simple curve in PicsPlay Pro.

Original-edited-picsplaypro

Video :: I don’t take enough video of my kids. Mostly because when I pick up a camera, it is because I “see” a photograph, but also I don’t want to get on the computer to edit video. This camera takes beautiful video and comes with a built in video editor. I am now set.

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4dPMPF2_8w[/tube]

Direct sharing :: From Instagram to Facebook, YouTube and every social media platform in between, with built in WiFi and/or optional data SIM you can share your edited photos from the device without ever having to go to the computer.This is great for travelling or even when you just can’t make yourself get up from that comfy spot in the backyard.

Images below captured with Action Freeze SMART mode, Program Mode and Night SMART Mode…all in my backyard.

Summer-Jump-right-to-Facebook-page

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This model is the first generation of the device and truly the first of its kind overall. That means that there are a few issues I hope to see worked out in future releases.
For example, it is processing much larger files than a standard phone/camera, so it is a bit slower to start up. I am quite used to almost instantaneous response from my mobile device and I am comparing this camera to that. I did not like the camera picking up all of my email as I still have my phone on me at any given moment, so I set up a new gmail account just for it. That way, I could still email great shots directly without the distraction of extra notifications.
Huge files are mobile data eaters and also not necessary for Instagram. The easy fix was to edit the full resolution file and also save a resized version for the web.

All four of these girls are already sharing their photos online. These are the next generation of bloggers. 

blogging-girls

This is not my DSLR replacement. In the end, I see this as the camera that will kill the old point and shoot market. It is perfect for families who love to share their life in photos, bloggers who want to get great content out on the go and anyone looking for something more than the phone camera yet with the same fun apps and fast connection. I am excited to see this technology develop.

12 comments
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  • katepickle - ooooh this sounds cool!
    Though I reckon it would eat up our tiny bandwidth allowance each month very quickly!January 24, 2013 – 10:24 amReplyCancel

    • sesame - Yes, it is some big file size. BUT you can easily keep the original on the hard drive and resize the ones that get uploaded to the web. In fact, Google can be set to do just that for you so you can relax and know that it will only upload the standard resolution files.January 24, 2013 – 11:26 amReplyCancel

  • María - I want this camera! Seriously, i don’t take my DSLR out enought because 1. it’s too heavy and 2. it is dangerous where i live to go out with such an expensive thing. And even if this camera is probably very expensive, if they make it look more like a point and shoot than a DSLR it’s way easier to hide it!
    Can’t wait to see more of this!January 24, 2013 – 11:17 amReplyCancel

    • sesame - It is an expensive camera at the moment compared to other point and shoots, but since it is also a mobile device, it can do double duty as a mini-tablet in a way. I am hoping that as this technology gets developed more, the price point will drop.January 24, 2013 – 11:29 amReplyCancel

  • DawnK - Looks like a fun device for spontaneous pictures!January 24, 2013 – 11:36 amReplyCancel

  • Toni - Gotta say, just adore your blog, it’s one that I never miss..
    Just wondering which model smart camera you went with, am considering getting one but a little lost as to what model..January 24, 2013 – 11:54 amReplyCancel

    • sesame - Hi Toni,
      Thanks for that! This Samsung Galaxy SMART camera is the EK-GC100.January 24, 2013 – 12:43 pmReplyCancel

  • tisha - Oh good Lord you are killing my pocket book! I have had my eye on this one for a while now…wondering if I would like it. Sounds like it would be a great addition to my camera bag! Thanks for the post 🙂January 24, 2013 – 1:53 pmReplyCancel

  • Lori - thanks for keeping us updated I have the Samsung dv300 which lets me upload to fb, but the menu system is too cumbersome! I love this direction! I can’t wait for the future!!!!January 24, 2013 – 2:59 pmReplyCancel

  • Catherine V - Love the review of this. For a point and shoot, I bought the Canon Powershot S90 a couple of years ago for nearly $400 (ouch!). Love it still, but the drawback has always been finding the time to get the photos off the camera and on to the computer. I agree, this sort of thing is going to totally replace standard P&S cameras! Oh, and I just bought PicsPlay for my Samsung Galaxy S2 smartPHONE. Hoping to have some fun with it. Thanks again for the review.January 25, 2013 – 4:59 amReplyCancel

  • SarahKane - That is one mighty impressive zoom!

    I bought the Fuji x100 last April. It was actually my first digital camera that was not a Nikon (I have the D2, D200, D5000, D70s, D70) and I was expecting it to be my equivillant of a point and shoot but it has ended up being my go to camera for almost everything now. I have shot weddings and various jobs using the x100 for 90% of the photos. The quality blows my mind, even now, almost a year since buying it. The x100 is a fixed lens (24mm) without any zoom capabilities. It really doesn’t bother me much because I would often shoot with a fixed lens on my other digitals, 35mm & medium format camera, but I have to say, looking at that incredible zoom and often I do long for it.

    When I was in high school and also when I was doing my photography BA degree, I used to work in a photographic retail store and I remember, even back as far as 10 years ago when digital cameras were still a newborn technology, customers who had bought Samsung cameras were always quite pleased with them. It was, and still is, easy to write them off in favour of Nikon and Cannon, but it is really exicitng me seeing brands like Samsung and Fuji really clawing into the competition and climbing right up there.

    I mut say, this post has once again made me open my eyes and realise that photographic technology is so varied these days and it really is incredible. Of course, having a good photographer behind the lens is never a bad thing (lovely work as usual Rachel).

    🙂January 25, 2013 – 1:42 pmReplyCancel

    • cintia - I have the Fuji X100 and love it. I never use me DSLR now either.January 26, 2013 – 11:50 amReplyCancel

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