If you’re looking for a decent camera with the functionality and ease of access commonly associated with the Android operating system, you may be in luck with the Samsung Galaxy Camera 2. The Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 continues a trend we’ve approached before when it comes to Samsung products; the box is quite nicely designed, with a simple two-tiered system, much like the Samsung Gear 2, yet it forgoes the wooden finish that we’ve come to praise from the series. Instead we have a slicker black and white colour scheme that places a much heavier emphasis on the image of the camera itself, mainly showing off the lens, which has an etching of the specifications upon it. The box has, I’ve noted, forgone the mentioning of the megapixel count, as it is quite disappointing; 16.3 megapixels is not really a boasting figure, especially when you can pick up some of the heftier Nokia devices for around the same price as the Camera 2, those of which include up to 41 megapixels. The rest of the box is simplistic by design, allowing for little flexibility, but it’s a suitable box, and one that’ll no doubt make you excited to open it up. The Samsung trend of concealing unwanted clutter continues here, with the camera sitting on a cardboard sheet in the box that conceals the chargers and other wires, leaving the camera to be the main treat for the eyes. Once again, it works as a design feature, making the camera the main and most important piece of the unboxing process.
The camera itself is a joy to look at; quite stunningly like an Apple product in its white/silver form, you can also get different colours, such as red, black, and orange. It has the same stitched leathery look that recent Samsung devices opt for, which gives it its own unique personality whilst still being sleek and stylish. The lens is the dominating feature of the camera, taking up a good half of the front, but its complimented well with an ergonomically designed handgrip and levy of information on the lens itself to make the design not seem overbalanced. In my hands, it was very comfortable, leading to a pleasant photo-taking experience. The camera fits beautifully in the hand, yet can be adapted quite a bit in the palm to get different angles. The back of the camera is dominated by the touch screen, with a hard plastic rim to encase it. Metal, or at least metallic looking materials make up the trim.
The touch screen itself, perhaps the main feature of the device to make it worth considering, allows the camera to run with the Android OS. Before I had even bothered with downloading games, I saw that there was an application for the Google Play store, as well as various other applications already installed. I was honestly blown away by the number of applications on the camera, including Google Maps, YouTube, Google+, Chrome, Hangouts and Dropbox. The Google Play store is ever so slightly more restrictive, and the very nature of the device means that playing games will be a strenuous one to upkeep for the tech, yet the prospect of having a camera is to take pictures, and that is where the main focus of the device has gone. Although I was definitely impressed with the sheer number of options and applications at my disposal, It left me feeling like the Camera 2 had a confused identity; it almost felt like it was trying too hard to be a phone, with applications such as a Contacts page seeming like an odd choice when social networking is probably the limit of the utility this extra freedom brings.
The confused identity does not help when we venture into the camera itself, which, although including a dizzying array of editing options and camera photo types, gives off some rather undesirable images.
A lot of the photos that I took would get quite blurry and lose their focus when zooming in, accredited once again to this lower megapixel count. The photos seemed to struggle with immense detail, and contrast of colour. Some pictures of my garden lead to some blurred clumps of grass, and when taking a picture of a navy blue shirt next to some orange trousers, the contrast went completely out of control. The photos that we managed to take of still objects, specifically those with clear backgrounds and foregrounds would end up being the most effective. We managed to get some truly stunning pictures of our dog (when he was still), and of various flowers. The contrast really worked in the favour of these images, making the flowers beautifully vibrant. Other pictures, where contrasts can make superb comparisons, worked outside more than inside. The green of the grass, blue of the sky and brown of the trees were stunning when focused on, and some genuinely stunning images can be taken. I’m only a rookie photographer, having never done it much before, and I managed to snap some pretty decent photos.
The programs on the device, mainly to help with different colour structures, can also bring a previously bland photo to life. One example was the “food” option, which was quite brilliant for me, as I enjoy eating food quite frequently, and the photo I took of some pretty bland pasties ended up looking much more appetizing thanks to the filter I picked. Honestly, problems with zooming can be avoided if you aren’t aiming on taking pictures of things from too far away, but when the camera is as varied and fun as it is when not bothering with distance, it’s a shame that the extra megapixels couldn’t be thrown in.
The price tag will be the main deterrence for many to pick up the Camera 2; £399 is no laughing price, and when there are other phones on the market with nicer cameras for only around £100 more, it can become a curious debate as to whether or not the camera is worth it. To me, personally, I feel the camera is too confused a device to warrant purchasing if you want to have a camera solely. When the camera is actually working as its intended design, it’s a beautiful piece of technology that seamlessly weaves together the editing process with the capturing process, but I can’t help but feel that the extra clutter of the Play Store, Youtube, and the like could have been cut down to include some more vital camera components.
I’d definitely recommend getting ahold of one to try out, be it in your local tech store, or from a friend of a friend. It has been a lot of fun to play around with, and it’s an incredibly nice device. Check it out now, and be sure to check in on the website for other reviews, be it cameras, bikes or more!