Samsung Galaxy Camera hands-on, first impressions

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When Samsung announced the Galaxy Camera in IFA this year, we were all slightly curious as to what an almost eternally connected camera would mean for us. Because of its Android origins, the Galaxy Camera’s appeal would inevitably be one of instantaneous sharing, wherever, whenever. And from the way things are going, this concept isn’t going to be lost on other manufacturers as well, and we’re pretty sure that this is just the beginning of a whole new chapter in digital cameras.

We got to see the Galaxy Camera during the local launch of the Galaxy Note II, and we spent a little time with it there. While we were initially impressed at what the device had to offer, we couldn’t really gauge image quality and how the it handled being an Android device. Today we’ve managed to score a little more time with the camera, and we’re liking what we’re seeing so far.

If it hasn’t been abundantly clear from the previous stories that we did, make no mistake – the Samsung Galaxy Camera is big. With physical dimensions of 128.7 x 70.8 x 19.1 mm, it’s not the most portable camera around. There’s few physical controls present on the device itself, and most of it is located on the top – the zoom controls, shutter and power buttons are all clustered together.

There’s an enlarged, textured area near the left side of the camera that acts as the grip to help you get a solid purchase on the device when you’re using it with one hand. On the right side of the device you’ll see the flash button that pops up the built-in flash.

The Galaxy Camera has a large, 4.8-inch Super Clear LCD capacitive screen that has a resolution of 720×1280 pixels, which puts it pretty much on par with another Samsung product, the Galaxy S III. Inside the camera beats the heart of a Samsung Exynos 4412 quad-core processor running at 1.4Ghz paired with 1GB of RAM, which weirdly enough puts the processing power of the Galaxy Camera leagues away from most mid-tier Android smartphones currently in the market today.

When you initially turn on the Galaxy Camera, you’ll be greeted by a traditional camera GUI. You can select the shooting mode that you want using the menu on the right side of the display, while the camera’s settings can be controlled by pressing the gear icon near the top left of the GUI. Shooting effects are accessed by pressing the arrow on the bottom, while you’ll be able to quickly capture videos by pressing the large record key on the left side of the GUI. All the videos and the pictures that you shoot can be accessed anytime by pressing on the small thumbnail on the bottom left of the display.

The Galaxy Camera transforms from a simple camera to a fully featured Android device once you press on the home icon on the top left of the display. Once pressed, you’ll be treated to a familiar Android 4.1 menu with Samsung’s TouchWiz UI layered on top. Samsung has made a few adjustments to the UI for the Galaxy Camera, which include quick adjustments to the shooting modes that you use. To get back to the camera function of the device, there’s a camera icon on the bottom left of the UI that’s present in all of the home screens.

The Galaxy Camera feels like a smartphone in terms of usage, chiefly because of its Android origins. You can do pretty much everything you can do with an Android smartphone with the Galaxy Camera except make a voice call.

Because the device has a microSIM slot, you can chuck in a data SIM inside and always have internet access with it, which allows you to share your pictures instantaneously the minute you take a picture with it.

Speaking of pictures, the Galaxy Camera uses a 16.3-megapixel sensor that’s capable of taking quality pictures. The Galaxy Camera is also equipped with a 21x optical zoom, and has a wide-angle 23mm lens. Check out our unedited, full-sized pictures below for a taste of its image quality (click on the pictures to enlarge):

That’s it for now. We’ll be posting the full review of the Samsung Galaxy Camera later next week, so keep tuned.