Galaxy S4 Zoom

Galaxy S4 Zoom

Features & Controls


Samsung maintained a pretty simple design on the front of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom camera. While the back of the camera resembles a smartphone screen, the front looks like a simple point-n-shoot camera.

The lens housing and lens have a silver color, which contrasts to the S4 Zoom's white camera body. (Samsung is also offering a black colored version.) It measures 0.61 inches at its thinnest point, although the right hand grip and lens housing make the camera about an inch in thickness. When you press the power button, the lens opens and the camera measures about 1.75 inches in thickness. At full 10x zoom, the S4 Zoom camera measures about 2.25 inches in thickness.

When the camera is powered down the lens retracts completely inside the lens housing, and a silver cover automatically slides in place to protect the lens glass.

Samsung included a 10x optical zoom lens (24 - 240 mm equivalent) with this camera, which is a pretty good telephoto measurement for such a thin camera. This lens sets the S4 Zoom apart from smartphone cameras, which rarely have optical zoom capabilities.

The Galaxy S4 Zoom doesn't have many external dials or buttons, but turning the large silver ring that surrounds the lens housing does adjust the zoom setting. Otherwise you'll have to adjust the 10x zoom using on-screen buttons. There are 10 distinct stops on the zoom motor, but most of the stops are at the lower end of the optical zoom measurement.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom has a small 1/2.3-inch image sensor that offers 16-megapixels of resolution. Samsung included an optical image stabilization feature with this camera/smartphone combination.

The S4 Zoom's lens offers a minimum aperture setting of F3.1 at wide angle and F6.3 at full telephoto. Focus ranges were not made available by the manufacturer.

Samsung did include one interesting feature with this camera. If you turn the zoom ring while in phone mode, you'll open a shortcut menu from which you can select a camera shooting mode before jumping into camera mode. The shortcut menu can be customized.

Flash.jpgThe tiny flash unit is built into the camera body, just to the left and above the lens (when viewed from the front). The autofocus assist lamp is visible here too.

You can adjust the flash modes using the on-screen menus. No physical buttons are available on the camera to change flash modes. The available flash modes are Auto, Red-eye, Fill-in and Off, although some of these modes may not be available, depending on which shooting mode you're using. Samsung didn't include data in its specifications about the flash range.

Shutter button.jpgThe shutter button is easy to find on the top of the camera, as it's the only button in that area of the camera. It's raised away from the camera and is easy to find with your finger when your attention is focused on the screen.

Top buttons.jpg
Two additional slim buttons are in the middle of the top panel of the Galaxy S4 Zoom. The smaller button on the left is the power button, while the button on the right is the volume control button, giving you access to the S4 Zoom's smartphone volume and sounds. To change the camera related sounds, though, you'll have to access the Settings menu through the on-screen icons.

The attention grabbing feature of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom camera is its display screen, which basically occupies the entire back panel of the camera. It's a 4.3-inch AMOLED screen that includes a touchscreen component, which you would expect with a camera/smartphone combination. The touchscreen is very responsive, and Samsung did a good job of incorporating the camera's menus and on-screen buttons to work with the touchscreen. I wish more camera makers that include touchscreens with their cameras would follow suit, because it makes the camera so much easier to use when the menus are designed with the touchscreen in mind.

The one drawback to the screen is that it struggles in low light in camera mode, which sometimes gives the S4 Zoom a "jelly" effect, where the display cannot keep up with the camera as it moves. This can make it difficult to shoot moving video. The screen also has a limited resolution of about 518,000 pixels, which is quite a bit less than most high-end cameras in today's market provide with smaller screens.

As with most smartphones, Samsung included gyro-sensors with the S4 Zoom so the orientation of the display screen will change to match how you're holding the camera, which makes it feel natural.

Edit button right side.jpgEdit button right.jpg
The right side of the S4 Zoom's back panel contains the only control buttons on the back panel. 

The oval shaped button will switch the S4 Zoom's operation from camera mode to cell phone mode.

Additionally there are touch sensitive areas above and below the oval shaped button that serve as "buttons" for the Galaxy S4 Zoom. These touch sensitive areas have very faint labels that light up when you touch the area. The buttons remain sensitive to touch regardless of whether they are lit. When they are not lit, they're very difficult to see with this S4 Zoom body, blending into the white color. The photo on the left is the normal view of the area, where you can very faintly see the unlit labels. I've added a high contrast to the photo on the right to make the unlit labels a bit more visible.

The upper label is a curved arrow that serves as a back button. The lower label looks a bit like half a sheet of paper and is a menu button, causing popup menus to appear on the screen. The popup menus are tied to the camera mode you're currently using.

USB port.jpg

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom's USB port is exposed on the side panel of the smartphone/camera, which is typical for a smartphone. Most digital cameras would hide the USB port behind a panel.

You'll use the USB port to charge the S4 Zoom's battery inside the camera, as well as to connect with a computer. You also have a variety of wireless options for transferring photos, including Wi-Fi, 4G, 3G, Bluetooth and NFC.

Memory card.jpgThe Galaxy S4 Zoom camera makes use of microSD sized memory cards, and the memory card slot is on the bottom of the camera. The slot is protected by a flexible panel. The model we tested also offered 8GB of internal memory (of which about 5GB is available), which means you can capture quite a few photos before needing a microSD card. However, we highly recommend you use a card like the one pictured above, as keeping the internal memory open will help improve the phone's performance.

Battery charger.jpg
You'll see the USB slot on the side of the camera again here, and the battery is contained behind the panel on this side of the S4 Zoom. Like most smartphones, you can remove the battery in the S4 Zoom, but the manufacturer doesn't make it easy. You'll have to pull loose the cover on the outside of the camera, and the there's another latch inside the compartment that you'll have to undo to release the battery. All of the covers snap securely into place once you reinsert the battery. 

Battery life is very good with this camera, and you can expect several hours of heavy camera and cell phone usage per charge. Using the Wi-Fi quite a bit will cause the battery to drain more quickly.

Samsung included an adapter with this camera kit, and you'll plug the included USB cable into the camera and adapter to make a connection for charging. There is no HDMI port with the Galaxy S4 Zoom. The USB cable is 5 feet in length, which is much longer than most digital cameras offer, providing more flexibility in where you can plug in the camera for charging.

You also can see the tripod mount in this photo. It's protected with a plug, which is visible as the white circle on the right side of the bottom panel of the camera.

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.