Samsung Galaxy Camera (EK-GC100) Review
Samsung's latest experiment is the first camera to support both Android and 4G mobile broadband.
The Galaxy Camera is beginner-friendly. The interface defaults to auto mode, which frees the user from decisions like shutter, aperture, and ISO. Touch-to-focus is unlocked for this mode though.
Buttons & Dials
Other than the mechanical flash release on the left side of the body, the only buttons you'll find on the Galaxy Camera are the shutter release and power button. These buttons feel fine, though the zoom lever surrounding the shutter release is a bit flimsy, but our main complaint here is the lack of buttons. The camera's all-touch interface slows down the shooting process considerably.
Effects, Filters, and Scene Modes
What we would normally call Scene modes are contained within the "Smart" mode menu, which seems inaccurately named. Here you'll find a pretty average selection of scene mode settings like Landscape, Macro, and Sunset, plus a few more compelling choices like Beauty face and Best photo. There's also a Continuous shot mode here, but it's rather redundant and doesn't seem to offer any advantages over the drive mode setting of the same name, which can be used outside of "Smart" mode.
Thanks to a stylish but inappropriate all-touch interface, the Galaxy Camera's menu system is one of this device's key drawbacks. We typically abhor touchscreen interfaces, and the Galaxy Camera showcases all the reasons why, in fact it's one of the worst offenders in recent memory.
Since the rear panel is dominated entirely by the touchscreen, each setting adjustment requires retracing your steps through the poorly-arranged menu. Changing values like shutter, or even something simpler like shooting mode, is a slow, imprecise experience prone to errors. Classic design mistakes are everywhere, such as the close proximity of the settings icon to the home icon, one of which opens up an important menu, while the other cancels camera mode entirely and takes you back out to the Android home screen. The Galaxy Camera's excuse for a "quick" menu, which is underpopulated by useful options, also resides dangerously close to these icons.
Then there's the fact that this touch sensitive panel offers no safe place on which to rest your thumb or fingers. This leads to near-constant accidental triggering of the touch-to-focus feature, mistakenly accessing playback mode, or—worst of all—hitting that home button which leaves the camera mode entirely. It also seems impossible to prevent the camera from shutting itself off after only 60 seconds of inactivity. Very annoying.
A few programming glitches exist too. The camera will sometimes forget its custom white balance setting, for example, and revert back to a previous reading. Other times the focus zone indicator won't display at all, and you'll need to exit the camera interface to reset it.
Were this only a smartphone, the menu might be considered at least average. But for a device that's "camera first, Android platform second," it's a disaster.
The camera ships with both a Quick Reference Guide and a Quick Start Guide, both of which are useless. An electronic copy of the full manual is nowhere to be found, except for a short document of limited detail on the mobile phone section of Samsung's web site. In fairness, this camera isn't on the market yet, so this oversight is subject to change, and we'll try to update the review if it does.
Get Our Newsletter
Real advice from real experts. Sign up for our newsletter
Thanks for signing up!