The Bottom Line
Because the Samsung Galaxy Camera is so fun to use, I nearly gave it a much higher star rating than is listed here. However, my overriding rule when awarding star ratings is that image quality is a primary consideration. If the camera doesn't shoot great photos versus other similarly priced models, it's tough for me to recommend it highly.
This applies directly to the Galaxy Camera, as its image quality is good for sharing photos on the web but isn't going to work well for making large prints. That factor alone makes it impossible for me to give this model a high star rating, because its image quality is well below average versus other cameras in the $450-plus price range.
Despite that, I'd still recommend the Galaxy Camera to the right photographer. The Samsung Galaxy Camera has so many great features -- 21X optical zoom lens, 4.8-inch touch screen LCD, and built-in Wi-Fi among them -- that this camera would be a nice option, despite the high price and below average image quality.
Besides, the Galaxy Camera is so much fun to use that I'd say that photographers who want an easy-to-use camera with a large zoom lens that allows for fast uploads to social networking sites can consider this model. And Samsung also included a host of smartphone-like features that give the Galaxy Camera a lot of versatility. If those were my primary considerations in giving a star rating when reviewing cameras, the Galaxy Camera would certainly have received a much higher mark from me.
As long as you're sure you can live with this camera's weaknesses and you're sure it won't break your photography budget, the Galaxy Camera is worth a look for the right photographer. Just ignore the star rating in that case!
One of the biggest problems that you'll encounter with the Samsung Galaxy Camera is its overall image quality. Samsung chose to include a small 1/2.3-inch image sensor with this camera, which causes some image quality problems.
Compared to other models with a small image sensor, the Galaxy Camera performs pretty well in terms of image quality. However, when you're comparing it to other cameras with a $450-plus price tag, the image quality problems are very noticeable. It's tough to justify spending that kind of money on a camera that doesn't create pin sharp images the majority of the time.
Although the Galaxy Camera does a pretty good job with flash photo image quality -- thanks in large part to the camera's popup flash unit -- you will find some noise in your images when shooting in low light.
Colors are realistic with this camera, and the image quality is more than adequate for sharing photos through the Galaxy Camera's built-in Wi-Fi with social networking sites. However if you're seeking a camera that can create sharp photos for large prints, you just aren't going to see those results with this model.
The Galaxy Camera has quite a few really nice performance features. The first one that you'll notice is the huge 4.8-inch LCD screen, which is very bright and sharp. It's also a touch screen LCD, which makes this model very easy to use. It's obvious that Samsung designed this camera's menu system with the touch screen in mind.
Another great feature with this model is the 21X optical zoom lens. If you're worried that this Samsung camera is just a glorified smartphone, the large zoom lens should ease those concerns, as the 21X optical zoom lens sets the Galaxy Camera apart.
Another great feature is the built-in Wi-Fi found with the Galaxy Camera. This feature is something that Samsung includes with many of its newer cameras, and it always seems to be extremely easy to set up and use with Samsung cameras.
Keep in mind that you also can purchase versions of the Galaxy Camera through Verizon and AT&T that can make use of 4G technology along with Wi-Fi. These cameras cost a bit more than the Wi-Fi-only version that I reviewed, because you have to buy a data plan through one of the two service providers at the time you purchase the camera.
Despite having a large LCD screen, battery life with the Samsung Galaxy Camera is very good. Granted, Samsung included a pretty large battery with this model, which adds to the camera's weight, but it provides the necessary battery power. If you use the Wi-Fi extensively, you will notice the battery draining more quickly than if you're just shooting movies and still images.
Design is the area where the Galaxy Camera shines. The inclusion of the Android OS with this camera makes it operate in a manner that's similar to a smartphone. If you're a fan of Android, you're going to love the way this camera works. This was the first camera to carry such a large LCD screen with the Android OS, although Samsung has since announced the Galaxy NX DIL camera.
As you'll find with smartphones, you can download and store a variety of apps with the Galaxy Camera, using either the Wi-Fi connection or the 4G connection.
The Galaxy Camera is a great-looking model, too. Because of the large LCD, this is a pretty big camera that has some heft to it, weighing more than 10 ounces.
Although the Galaxy Camera may look as if Samsung simply stuck a smartphone on the back of a point-and-shoot digital camera, this interesting combination actually works very well, as Samsung's designers did a good job merging these two features and making them work seamlessly.