A Galaxy not so far away…Samsung dazzles IFA 2012 with Galaxy Camera

It's a digital camera Jim, but not as we know it, as the best smartphone features and the best camera features combine in the one picture generating device... Best For Reviews is at IFA 2012 to get the inside track

 

It’s a camera Jim, but not as we know it… For the past decade mobile phones have been getting more like cameras, so Samsung’s new Galaxy Camera, which brings the Android operating system and a range of applications including Instagram and Dropbox access to digital compacts, isn’t a massive surprise. What’s perhaps more of a shock is that it has taken this long for cameras and phones to meld as comprehensively. Potentially confusing to consumers may be the fact that the Galaxy Camera can’t actually make a phone call. Unless, that is, you’re using Skype and a Bluetooth headset, as what it can do is connect to the Internet with a few prods of the impressively large 4.8-inch touch sensitive screen at the rear.
 
Samsung’s Vice President for Sales & Marketing Sun Hong Lim told us: “This is an exciting time for the camera industry. The smartphone market is five times bigger than the digital camera market. In one sense it is a big threat that all smartphones have a camera, but on the other hand it is a great opportunity, because smartphone users are also camera users and video users. Once we make cameras complimentary to smartphones, we can grow together.”
 
Samsung believes that in its Galaxy Camera it has gone one step further however and created a brand new product category: the smart camera.
 
“Demand for conventional cameras will decease, but demand for the smart camera will grow,” adds Samsung’s Mr Lim. “We are going to evolve our camera continually.”
 
Featuring what is described as a “minimal, organic design”, the Samsung Galaxy Camera is currently available in black, white, wine red and orange, and has a UK launch price of £399, with availability from October.
 
Its sales-worthy features include a 21x optical zoom, 16 megapixel BSI image sensor, Smart Pro mode for improved performance, plus Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi connectivity.
 
In a nutshell: “The Galaxy Camera is combining camera features you can’t find on smartphones with smartphone features you can’t find on other cameras,” says Stephen Taylor, Vice President Samsung Brand Europe. “Users will see an interface they’re used to from Android smartphones. It’s a device born for the visual communication era.” 
 
Like your phone the Galaxy Camera remains on standby or sleep mode when charged so that it is ‘always ready’. A particularly interesting feature is its voice control mode, allowing users to demand that it “shoot” or “zoom” without needing to press anything. There is also a ‘Best Group Pose’ feature that allows photographers to potentially edit up to eight faces in one frame – correcting for the fact that someone’s eyes might be closed, for example. The screen – the largest on any current digital camera – of course makes such editing more convenient, though the larger overall dimensions mean that it is a squeeze to fit the Galaxy Camera in a trouser pocket – though we managed. Another plus is that the camera features 8GB internal memory and the ability to insert both a SIM card and microSD.
 
At the exclusive round table meeting we attended, Samsung Vice President Mr Lim added that there were no plans to announce another new interchangeable lens NX camera this year, but didn’t rule out the possibility of an Android-based NX camera in the near future – or at least its use in what he described as “more premium” models. Nor did Samsung dismiss the possibility of an APS-C sensor (currently used by the NX range) in future generations of the Galaxy Camera, with Mr Lim noting that: “there may be a larger sensor in future”. He also acknowledged that incorporating an S-Pen digital stylus (as offered by its Galaxy Note II tablet) within future Galaxy Cameras also was a good idea and that a model with an electronic viewfinder (EVF) was under consideration.
 
Speaking further about the future of compact system cameras and its NX series, Mr Lim noted that opportunities here were also exciting as “growth rate is in fact higher than with smartphones; up 65% year on year. It’s another great opportunity for us to grow.”