a peek inside the fishbowl

22 Feb, 2013

Samsung Galaxy Camera: my new social camera

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Giveaways and product reviews|Oh! Things!|Photography

We are gadget geeks (not to mention huge photography buffs!) here at Casa Fishbowl, so when I had the opportunity to try a brand spanking new Samsung Galaxy Camera I had to reply with a resounding YES.**

** Transparency alert! I was given this camera and loaned a SIM card (which I will be returning) but opinions, as always, remain my own. The agency did not provide any writing prompts whatsoever, and was informed that I’d be sharing my honest experiences and views, good AND bad.

Let me begin my saying that I love my iPhone. (At this point I can imagine the Samsung marketing team taking a deep breath and immediately regretting giving me this camera.) But it’s true. I love how it gives me instant information, and allows me to communicate exactly when I need it, whether it’s for personal or work purposes. If I’m in the grocery store I can check my list and search for a recipe for dinner. If I’m picking up a movie, I can quickly look up the ratings and see if it’s kid-friendly. If I’m shopping for something in the home, I can snap a photo and share it with Mark (e.g. do you think this end table would work in the living room?).

But, you know me. It ain’t all business. I like to tweet a picture of a great lunch for example, a lovely view, or an Ottawa-area tidbit that I think might be handy or interesting for others to know about. The immediacy of the instant social share is something I really like. What can I say, it started in kindergarten with Show n’ Tell and skyrocketed from there (aided and abetted with technology of course). So yes, I like sharing what I’m doing RIGHT NOW, and part of why I like Twitter so much is that I like knowing what you’re all doing too, right this very minute. Maybe it’s a kind of voyeuristic curiosity, but it can also be a moment of visual inspiration, connection, and conversation, in a world that can sometimes be isolating and impersonal. Connecting over a photo makes sense. After all, we are visual people right?

As a person who relies on visuals to shape a story, this is exactly where the iPhone fails. Sure, it’s a smart communication device, but it doesn’t pull its weight on the photography side of things. The resolution is just fine, some people do amazing things with it, but it is strictly point and shoot. As a longtime photographer I find it to be limiting. I want more control, and to be creative in my own way. And when I do snap a photo I like, I like to share it online right away. So what’s a gal to do?

Enter the Samsung Galaxy Camera. It’s a social camera, one which you can also use to easily take a great photo, check your email, watch YouTube videos, and a hundred million other things… including sending your photo straight to Facebook.

I know some of you may be thinking, who needs a camera that’ll upload to Facebook? Well, when Mark and I went to Nature Nocturne a couple weeks ago, I couldn’t help but notice that almost every single twentysomething had a device in their hands. They were texting, tweeting, Facebooking, Instagramming… EVERYTHING except talking on a phone. So yes, there is a market out there.

But I digress. Stick a SIM card in this baby and you can be online, no matter where you are. She’s a sleek little thing too:

The Samsung Galaxy

This is a view of the back. My background is a photo of a comic that Emma took. I liked the image, so I chose to use it as my “desktop” image.

Samsung - rear view

As you can see it has a generous touch screen. It is 4.77″ and it is crystal clear. (You can watch a movie on this thing!) I did have some difficulty viewing it in very sunny and bright outdoors, but I have the same issue with all of my cameras (so no biggie there).

My Samsung-assigned assignment was to toot around Winterlude and upload photos as I go. I didn’t receive my SIM card in time so I wasn’t able to upload as many as I would have liked from Winterlude, however, I did go out on a few different occasions. I wanted to share my experiences and a few photos with you here.

One of the things I liked about this camera is its ease of use. I love when my kids are inspired to take a photo, and collectively we took some great shots around town. It’s very easy to switch to different “smart”  modes (e.g. Action Freeze, Macro, Landscape, Continuous Shot, Night, Fireworks etc. There are 15 and they cover a myriad of different situations.) One of my favourites was the panorama setting and I loved playing with it. Here’s a shot I took downtown and another from a recent visit to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum.

Another great setting is called Best Face. It is a total game changer for group shots. Say you’re taking a photo at a family reunion. If past family gatherings are any indication, you know going into it that Uncle Joe always blinks, Maddy and Joe Jr. always fight, distracted Auntie Jane never quite looks in the right direction, and Grandpa is almost always caught with his mouth open (mostly because he’s telling you how to take the photo). This is when you switch the camera to Best Face mode. You take a bunch of photos and the camera opens them in the gallery. Out of five pics (for example) you pick one in which Joe has his eyes open and Jane is looking at the camera, Grandpa isn’t scowling and the twins aren’t fighting. And the camera MAGICALLY makes one great group shot out of the faces you deemed to be “best” … IT IS CRAZY AMAZING. We’ve tried it and it works.

Speaking of best faces, here’s one I rather like:

20130215_104657

Some may think that the background is a little blown out, but I love this photo because the focus is all about the face and the lighting is nice and even. (I can’t remember what setting I used here, sorry!)

I was really impressed by the camera’s ability to zoom. The Galaxy has a 21x optical zoom with a focal range equivalent to 23-483mm. HUGE. The lens I have on my Nikon D90 can’t achieve the same kind of distance and clarity. Nikon lenses are pricey if I wanted to upgrade to a 400 mm lens. My eldest spotted a rabbit in our backyard and nabbed this photo, clear across our backyard (by the way you can click to enlarge all of these):

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When we were downtown we were on the road in front of Parliament Hill and snapped this close-up of the Peace Tower:

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If you click to enlarge you can actually see a face in the window beneath the clock. That is serious zoomage. Admittedly it’d be sharper if we used a tripod (our fingers were frozen at this point in the day) but I still love the shot.

And then there’s this scene from Winterlude:

Winterlude in Ottawa

… which would have been impossible without the zoom.

I was pleased how many great shots it took in a variety of different conditions. Taking a photo of ice, for example, can be challenging, right? Well, cue the trumpets:

20130209_143221

Here’s one that was taken during a photoshoot in the woods:

2013-02-09 13.13.58

Auto mode – which the photo snob in me generally eschews – snapped a reliably good photo every time, indoors too:

20130217_131154

I think I’m a convert.

There is an expert mode too. At the flick of a finger you can gain a lot of extra control over the outcome of your photo. This is especially handy when you want to adjust your depth of field in order to emphasize the foreground instead of the background.

Here’s what it the interface looks like on the back of the camera:

Untitled

We have been tinkering with the video settings too. My eldest used it for a school project (as well as the editing app that came with it) to do a school project this week. Yay!

The Samsung Galaxy Camera is an Android device and apps are plentiful in the Google Play store. This extends the functionality of this device a thousand-fold. Apps aside, I’m still learning how to use it. I just figured out that I can set it to take photos by voice command. It takes a picture when I say SMILE, or CHEESE. (My kids will freak out when they see that!) What else? I love being able to upload seamlessly to my Flickr account (there’s an app for that), and offloading my photos to iPhoto was easy too. I do hope someday I will get used to the touch screen and stop recording video by accident, and that my kids will eventually stop absconding with it. They’re spending way too much time taking photos and playing with the Paper Artist app. I may write more about this app later, but here’s an example of what they’re doing with it:

Found this on my camera and I thought it was pretty cool!

Neat eh? Anyway, this hasn’t been a very technical kind of review has it, but I figure you can Google ‘em anytime. I will say the Samsung Galaxy allowed me to take photos I could never pull off with my iPhone, especially zoomed-in shots, and night shots, and macro shots, and action shots… etc etc. Oy.

If you’d like to check out some of the other shots I took with the Samsung Galaxy Camera, take a peek at my Flickr set.


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3 Responses to "Samsung Galaxy Camera: my new social camera"

1 | Sarah McCormack

February 22nd, 2013 at 7:58 pm

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great photos taken by YOU, not the camera!! like a great piano, you need to be able to play it properly to get good results!
you have a great eye! but the camera looks cool too.

2 | andrea

February 23rd, 2013 at 11:20 am

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Aw, thanks Sarah! I really do enjoy capturing life in photos… and the camera is great. I wasn’t kidding about having to wrestle it away from the kids now. They love it too!

3 | The photo hunt: a great activity for kids! (The first batch of photos) >> a peek inside the fishbowl

July 14th, 2013 at 1:44 pm

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[...] first batch of 10, taken by the eldest using her iPod touch. (I kind of which we’d brought the Samsung. It would have been much better for this kind of [...]

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our two daughters Emma (15) and Sarah (13). I am the editor of the Kitchissippi Times, Capital Parent Newspaper, and a regular contributor to MediaSmarts.ca. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger, and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999... which makes me either a total dinosaur or a veteran, I'm not sure which! The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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