Features & Controls

Although the back of the Samsung Galaxy Camera may look like a smartphone, thanks to the Android OS-enabled large touchscreen, it's obviously a camera when looking at the front panel. The large lens housing along the right side of the Galaxy Camera (when viewed from the front) looks like any other point-n-shoot camera.

The Galaxy Camera has a 21x optical zoom lens (23 - 483 mm equivalent). Samsung has provided this camera with an extremely versatile lens, giving it the ability to work in multiple shooting situations. The camera requires about 3 seconds to work through its entire zoom range. There are 15 distinct stops within the 21x zoom range, but only five stops from 9.4x to 21x, which is a little disappointing. More stops in the zoom range makes it easier to find the exact telephoto measurement you want.

When the camera is powered down, it measures about 1.25 inches in thickness (including the lens housing) and the lens retracts fully inside the lens housing. A plastic cover slides over the lens glass automatically to protect it. When you initially turn on the camera, the lens extends a little bit, giving the camera a depth measurement of about 2.5 inches. When the 21x zoom is fully engaged, the Galaxy Camera measures about 3.5 inches in depth.

Even though this is a large camera because of the huge LCD screen, Samsung didn't install a large image sensor, choosing to go with a 1/2.3-inch CMOS image sensor that offers 16.3 megapixels of resolution.

Samsung gave the Galaxy Camera a through the lens (TTL) auto focus system, providing photographers with the options of center AF, multi AF and face detection AF. Samsung's optical IS has been included with this camera as well.

Effective AF range:
  • Normal: 31 in. (80 cm) to infinity (wide), 11.5 feet (350 cm) to infinity (tele)
  • Macro: 4 to 31 in. (10 to 80 cm) (wide), 5 to 11.5 feet (150 cm to 350 cm) (tele)
  • Auto Macro: 4 in. (10 cm) to infinity (wide), 5 feet (150 cm) to infinity (tele)
  • Manual: 4 in. (10 cm) to infinity (wide), 5 feet (150 cm) to infinity (tele)

By including a popup flash unit with the Galaxy Camera, Samsung has given its camera's flash a better angle to the subject than you'd get with a tiny flash unit that's built into the corner of the camera body. You must activate the flash manually by pressing a button on the side of the camera.

The popup flash is on the far left of the top panel of the camera. You can see the rectangle with rounded edges when looking at the top panel that marks the location of the popup flash. It can be a little difficult to find a comfortable location for your left index finger when the flash is activated.

The flash modes that are available -- Auto, Auto & Red-eye Reduction, Fill-in Flash, Slow Sync, Flash Off, Red-eye Fix -- will change depending on which shooting mode you're using. Modes with more manual control will give you more options for controlling the flash, too. The flash range is 0.66 to 20.3 feet (0.2 to 6.2 meters) at wide angle settings and 1.6 to 16.7 feet (0.5 to 5.1 meters) at telephoto settings. These ranges seem impressive, however they are a bit inflated.

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As you're holding it, the left side of the Galaxy Camera contains the button to open the popup flash toward the top and a speaker toward the bottom.

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The top panel of the Galaxy Camera doesn't have a lot of buttons on it. In fact Samsung doesn't include many buttons anywhere on this model, as the large touchscreen LCD handles most of the command input.

On the top panel you'll find the small power button and the shutter button on the far right, built into the right hand grip. The camera's zoom ring surrounds the shutter button. The power button is pretty small, and it requires you to hold it down for a split second before it activates. A quick press of the power button often won't turn on the camera.

Simply put, the TFT LCD screen is the highest quality, largest screen I've encountered on a digital camera. It's going to remind you much more of a screen you'd see on a high-end smartphone, and it occupies most of the back panel of the Galaxy Camera.

This screen measures an impressive 4.8 inches diagonally. (Keep in mind that most digital cameras offer 3.0-inch LCD screens.) It also offers almost 1 million pixels of resolution, far more than the majority of digital cameras. It's very bright and sharp.

This is a touchscreen LCD, which makes it easy to use the Galaxy Camera, navigating through the various menus in a very natural manner.

Samsung didn't include a physical mode dial with the Galaxy Camera, but you can control the camera's shooting modes through the touchscreen. The virtual mode dial is on the far right of the screen. When you touch it, you can pick from the following modes:

  • Auto
  • Smart (scene modes) - Beauty Face, Best Photo, Continuous Shot, Best Face, Landscape, Macro, Action Freeze, Rich Tone, Panorama, Waterfall, Silhouette, Sunset, Night, Fireworks, Light Trace
  • Advanced - Program Auto (P), Aperture Priority (A), Shutter Priority (S), Manual (M)

Some items displayed on the LCD will change depending on which shooting mode you're using. On the top left, you'll see a Home icon that will take you to the Home screen, where you can control many of the camera's settings, as well as connect to the Wi-Fi network. The right pointing chevron will open some popup menu options, such as controlling the flash.

Along the bottom of the LCD, you'll see the last photo recorded in the lower left corner. The upward pointing chevron brings up another popup menu that will give you some image editing and special effect options.

Along with the mode dial on the far right, you'll see a camera icon button in the upper right, through which you can record a photo. The movie camera icon button in the lower right will allow you to begin recording a movie.

Samsung also included gyro-sensors with the Galaxy Camera that allows the camera to adjust the orientation of the LCD screen to match the way you're holding the camera. This feature contributes to the natural feel of using this model.

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On the Galaxy Camera's right side panel, you'll find a headphones jack near the top and a USB port toward the bottom of the panel. The USB port is protected with a flexible covering.

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Samsung also included an HDMI port on the bottom panel of the camera, again protected by a flexible covering. However, the Galaxy Camera does not include a HDMI cable in the box.

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The HDMI slot actually is contained inside the battery compartment on the Galaxy Camera. You could access the HDMI slot through the small flexible covering or by opening the battery compartment. The battery compartment is located behind a hard plastic door that has a hinge and is locked in place with a toggle switch.

Samsung included a large, thin rechargeable battery with this camera, and it has a very good lifespan, allowing for more than 300 photos per charge. Such a large battery is important to power the huge LCD screen. If you use the Wi-Fi capabilities on a regular basis, you will see the battery drain more quickly. If you aren't shooting photos or video, Samsung's specifications say you can use the Internet for up to 6 hours with the Galaxy Camera on a single battery charge.

The Galaxy Camera makes use of microSD memory cards, although Samsung also included a large amount of internal memory (8GB) with this model. A portion of the internal memory is reserved for the Android operating system.

Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.