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Samsung Galaxy Camera 2: A basic Point-and-Shoot made awesome with Android

Why you should use a digital camera even in the smartphone age.

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I am not, by any means, a great photographer. I would rank myself somewhere between “That guy that takes big foot pictures” and “That guy that takes UFO pictures” in skill level. But I need a camera with me all the time – usually to take pictures of the family or at Linux events... or stuffed animals posing in weird places (no judging – this article is a judgment-free zone).

Unfortunately, my main camera is a 275-pound (give or take) Canon DSLR. It's a great camera... but... dammit, it's huge. More often than not I simply elect to leave that sucker at home and simply take pictures using my Nexus 7's (absolutely horrible) built-in camera. Needless to say, my picture taking situation has been less than ideal.

But not any longer. I now have a Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 to keep me company wherever I go. Seriously. I love this camera.

On the “camera” side it's a perfectly average point-and-shoot. 16 megapixel. 21X optical zoom. OK shutter speed. Spec-wise, this bad boy is about on par with most point-and-shoot cameras that cost $100 less. Which, looking at it from a camera-only point of view, makes the Galaxy Camera look like a bit of a bum deal.

What makes this camera truly awesome is the fact that it essentially has a built-in Android tablet. The entire back of the camera is a gorgeous 4.8-inch screen powered by a quad-core processor, 2 gigs of RAM, and Android 4.3.

All of which means one, glorious, thing – The Google Play Store. Want to install the Android version of Photoshop to doctor your pictures? Bam. Right there. Every photo/video editor or social media app you could ever want is now resting happily on your camera.

Now, many of you might be saying “I already have a smartphone with an 8 to 16 megapixel camera... why would I want this?” The answer is simple: even though the Galaxy Camera 2 is pretty average when compared to a point-and-shoot... it blows cellphone cameras out of the water (including the camera in the Samsung Galaxy S5). This isn't the fault of the cellphone manufacturers... it's just the laws of physics at work. There's simply not enough space in those super-thin cellphones to include a high-quality lens in there. If image quality is important to you, then the Galaxy Camera will be a huge upgrade over a cellphone.

The battery life is quite good – I took it out for a full day of heavy usage and, when I returned home, it still had roughly half a charge left. The one downside to the hardware is that it only comes with 8GB of built-in storage, which is pretty brutal. So you'll want to pick up a micro SD card pronto. (I snagged a 32 gig card for $20... which does the job nicely.)

Samsung included a custom camera app that is quite nice. It includes all the “pro” settings you'd expect (ISO, Shutter speed, Aperture, everything adjustable), along with a nice array of what they call “Smart Modes” custom tailored for different needs: night shots, portraits, action shots... there's even a mode specifically for taking pictures of fireworks.

On the video front, this camera does a dandy job as well. 1080p video (at lower resolutions you can record up to 120 frames per second... which means you can do slo-mo videos) and an included Samsung-developed video editor. It's simple, but functional and quite easy to use.

Oh! And I can use my other Android devices (such as my Nexus 7 tablet) as a remote viewfinder. How cool is that? I haven't actually used that feature, other than to test it out... but still quite cool!

One final thought that I'll leave you with is an example of my work-flow of actually using this camera.

  • Take a picture.
  • Picture gets automatically uploaded to my Dropbox (assuming I have it connected to WiFi).
  • Edit the picture in Photoshop.
  • Post that picture to Instagram, G+, Twitter or anywhere else I like.
  • Post that picture in a blog post using the Wordpress app.
  • Put the camera back in my pocket.

And I never needed to use another device, which means I need to carry far less gear with me. Most notably that big, heavy DSLR. That anvil is staying home.

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