Sunday, 23 June 2013

Samsung has gone nuts!!!

If you crave the connectivity offered by the Samsung Galaxy Camera but don't want to sacrifice image quality or photo capabilities, you are the poster child for the Samsung Galaxy NX. With built-in 3G/4G LTE and Wi-Fi, Samsung envisions it as the "always connected" camera, but really, I'd be happy with just connected enough -- as I suspect many of the people interested in this camera would be -- but which most manufacturers still haven't mastered. And from a connectedness standpoint, the Galaxy NX does everything but make calls.
And it really does seem like the best of all possible worlds for more advanced photographers. It incorporates the same sensor as the NX300, complete with hybrid phase-detection/contrast autofocus systems, the same electronic viewfinder as the NX20, and it supports a reasonable selection of fast and/or inexpensive lenses that makes it flexible for a variety of users. The system could use at least one fast telephoto zoom, however.
Though it uses a 1.6GHz quad-core processor, Samsung supplements it with the same DRIMe IV imaging processor as in the NX300. (It also has 16GB built-in memory.) That should provide speedier image processing than on the Galaxy Camera. It seems like Samsung has learned some lessons from the earlier model as well. The huge battery and grip with a thumb rest on the back contrasts with the Galaxy Camera's relatively poor battery life and lack of place for your right thumb.
I'm still not completely sold on the idea of Android-driven cameras, but Android, combined with Samsung's willingness to open-source its camera API really opens up the potential of the camera in ways I can't begin to imagine.
One downside: it's really big. Of course, that's inescapable given the 4.8-inch LCD, APS-C sensor, and built-in EVF. (Plus, it's annoying that for such a big camera it uses microSD cards, and that they're inconveniently located in the battery compartment.) Also, many of Samsung's best lenses are relatively big and heavy, given that ILCs were intended to be smaller than dSLRs. But it can act as a hotspot, which makes the idea of toting it around it a little more palatable, at least for pros. One question I have is what happens to performance when you use the camera and the hotspot simultaneously. If you can.
Another potential downside is the lack of physical controls. While a chunk of potential buyers for this camera will just be looking for APS-C-quality photos and videos, another group -- say, people like me who need a high-quality camera for live-blogging and event photography -- really, really like our physical controls, and the i-Function design only partly mitigates their absence. I have to say, though, this is the first instance in which the i-Function architecture makes a lot of sense and finally seems like a strategic move on Samsung's part. In previous models, which do have physical controls, it always seemed so superfluous.
It also remains to be seen what kind of integration off-the-shelf Android apps have with the camera. As my review-twin Josh Goldman discovered while testing the Galaxy Camera, they vary with respect to how they operate. For example, most camera apps use some sort of pinch-based zooming; what happens when they encounter a mechanical zoom lens? The units we got to play with weren't yet cell-connected.

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