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Will you buy this SMART camera for Rs 1.12 lakh?

November 21, 2013 09:58 IST

Will you buy this SMART camera for Rs 1.12 lakh?

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If you always wanted an Android smart camera that delivers just the right amount of performance and battery life, price be damned, the Galaxy NX is for you.

Smart cameras haven’t traditionally been the most successful market for mobile manufacturers. These differ significantly from camera smartphones like the Nokia Lumia 1020 -- which incorporates a glorious 41 megapixel with impressive digital zoom, detail and optical image stabilisation but is still meant to be used as a daily mobile device.

Smart cameras, on the other hand, are digital cameras aiming to incorporate the wonderful world of mobile operating systems, along with their sharing and network capabilities, into a traditional photography package.

Samsung has been the company making the most waves with its devices, though after the recent Galaxy S4 Zoom, you’d figure they’d just stop.

Nonetheless, the Samsung Galaxy NX aims to focus more on the mirrorless camera part despite its Android attachment. 

At first glance, the Galaxy NX -- with its hybrid autofocus and interchangeable lens -- looks like it means business. But will it be enough to change our minds about smart cameras, especially with the asking price so high?


Image: Samsung Galaxy NX
Photographs: samsung.com

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Design

The Samsung Galaxy NX is a fairly large device, whichever way you look at it and might take some getting used to for those experienced in compact cameras. That increase size also affects the weight of the device and while you won’t struggle to hold it for prolonged periods, it does make for some slightly heavy luggage.  A leathery palm grip resides on the right side of the camera but in terms of button placement, the device is surprisingly bare.

This is because the interface (which we’ll discuss next) leans more towards a touch-based interface. A hardware dial, record button, power button and shutter button make up the top line of buttons. So if you need to adjust any settings such as ISO, white balance and the like, you’ll have to first unlock Android using the power button and then open the camera app.

If you’re used to adjusting these settings on the fly by way of Fn buttons or dials on a DSLR, this quickly becomes frustrating.

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Image: Samsung Galaxy NX
Photographs: samsung.com

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Interface

When you consider that the Samsung Galaxy NX is an Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean device as well as a camera, it opens up a number of options. You can store apps on the device such as Twitter, Instagram, Gmail, Facebook and much in order to share your images. This also means any number of image editing apps to add that particular bit of pizazz to your shots.

You’ll also have access to notifications from Android regarding images shared, among other things, so keep that in mind if the device begins to double up as a smartphone.

One look at the camera interface will remind you of the Galaxy S4 Zoom and even the NX 300, which lets you tweak the ISO, shooting mode and settings via on-screen dials. You can also go with Auto mode, and a manual zoom lens means you’re no longer restricted with regards to zooming in apps. Options such as Rich Tone (an HDR mode), Beauty Face (for removing blemishes and marks on the subject’s face) and Action Freeze do add a bit more variety to the shooting but for the most part, you’ll be fumbling with the touchscreen most times.

The good news is that the device can switch from any task to the camera app fairly quickly by hitting the shutter button. You can also opt to shut off the display and enter into standby by clicking on the power button.

It’s a decent touch, especially if you’re looking to save battery life though that’s not too much of a concern this time around.

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Image: Samsung Galaxy NX
Photographs: samsung.com

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Specs and image quality

The Samsung Galaxy NX features a 20.3 megapixel APS-C CMOS, 23.55 mm x 15.7 mm sensor with a DRIMe IV image CPU and Pega-Q quad core SoC clocked at 1.6 GHz (which powers Android). The device also comes with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB eMMC storage. It features a hybrid auto focus system which makes for both phase detection AF and contrast detection AF. ISO ranges from 100 to 25,600.

Full HD video recording is included at 30 frames per second along with 720p recording at 60 FPS.

You also have the option of an 18-55 mm, f/3.5-5.6 lens along with pop up flash, an HDMI port, micro-SIM slot and microSD which provides up to 64 GB more space. Wi-Fi, LTE and 3G connectivity are supported. A 4360 mAh battery powers the Galaxy NX, thus ensuring a good full day of heavy usage with plenty of charge to spare.

When it comes to image quality, the Galaxy NX surprised us quite a bit.

Still images are captured quickly and feature accurate colour reproduction. This also holds true for shots at high ISO settings, and though you’ll notice a fair amount of noise as the range increases, it’s still a great achievement. Day-time settings don’t necessarily look very sharp when you zoom in on the image. Casual usage is a different story and you can effectively shoot at Auto without much worry. HDR looks incredibly good and the various Smart features all prove their worth. Video recording is similarly sharp and appears on the mark, especially when it comes to focus speed and sound quality.

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Photographs: samsung.com

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Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy NX is a step up for the company, even if it does retail at an awkward $1700 (approximately Rs 1,12,495).

Compared to most professional DSLRs, that’s a pretty penny to pay, especially when you factor in that it’s not the most comfortable interface to use. It does boast good image quality though and the addition of Android 4.2.2 does grant it expanded sharing and editing capabilities.

If you always wanted an Android smart camera that delivers just the right amount of performance and battery life, price be damned, the Galaxy NX is for you. But if you seek a more professional grade device with more value for money, look at Nikon or Canon instead. Even Sony produces more cost-effective mirrorless cameras.

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Image: Samsung Galaxy NX
Photographs: samsung.com

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