With smartphones pushing the boundaries of their built-in cameras, the demand for entry level point-and-shoot compact cameras has dropped drastically. On the flip side, there are certain features and functions of a smartphone that can be useful on a conventional camera. The imaging quality of a digital compact combined with the power and flexibility of a smartphone sounds very appealing, especially when you can upload images directly to social networks like Facebook or Instagram via mobile apps - without transferring your files between devices.
Seeing the possibility of a unique device that melds the best functions of a compact camera and a smartphone, Samsung was one of the first to release a camera running the Android OS with the Samsung Galaxy Camera. It made a lot of sense on paper, but the actual execution left more to be desired.
The original Galaxy Camera felt like a work-in-progress with average camera performance and certain handling issues. But in keeping with the short product cycle trend for consumer electronics, the Korean conglomerate is having another go at the Android camera segment with the Galaxy Camera 2. Does the newcomer fix our concerns of the original Galaxy Camera 2? That's what we intend to find out in this review.
If you’re expecting a complete redesign from the original Galaxy Camera, it’s best to manage your expectations. The Galaxy Camera 2 looks a lot like its predecessor and even features the same 21x optical zoom, 16MP sensor and 4.8-inch touchscreen display.
It has however, gotten slightly larger, with its processor and software version getting bumped up. The SIM card slot has also been dropped, making the Galaxy Camera 2 a Wi-Fi-only device. This would probably have the largest affect on those who use apps that require a data connection or would like to upload their photos immediately to their preferred social platform.
For those who have never handled the original Galaxy Camera, the Galaxy Camera 2 is fairly similar in that it doesn’t have as many physical buttons and dials as your standard point-and-shoot compact camera. On the top plate of the camera you have the power button, the flash button which pops out the integrated flash, a zoom lever and shutter release button. The back of the camera resembles more of a smartphone than a camera, with a large 4.8-inch touchscreen display that’s devoid of any physical buttons.
The length of the Galaxy Camera 2 is longer than most compact cameras, which makes it more awkward to shoot with one hand. Fortunately, Samsung has added a ridge at the back for your thumb to rest on, which does help a fair bit compared to the flat surface of the original model. The lack of a thumb rest on the first Galaxy Camera made it hard to maintain a grip on the camera, and as a result there were many instances where our thumb would wander on to the display and accidentally set a new focus area. With a thumb rest on the Galaxy Camera 2, it's much easier to grasp and stabilize the camera without messing up your on-screen settings or focus area.
Thanks to the upgraded processor, the Galaxy Camera 2 runs smoothly for most usage needs and setting a focus area is as simple as tapping on the screen, which is how you would do it on a smartphone. We did, however, experience situations when the display would not respond to light taps, especially when our fingers were damp with sweat, which is something all touchscreen displays have to contend with. On the upside, the Galaxy Camera 2’s large 720p 4.8-inch display makes it easy to view and edit images.