Samsung and photography are a two-word-combination that seem to be coming up more frequently as Samsung is committed to offer the best life-moments-capturing ability. I have been given the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom to explore and check out its photographic ability. So is it a phone ? Is it a camera ? or is it both ?
So a disclaimer before we start: I have a DSLR and I have a very amateurish understanding of photography. I am by no means a “professional photographer” and so the review below is about how a regular person would use the device. There are lots of Blogs for the pros who will talk about the F-Stops, Depth of Field, White Balance and Apertures – this is not one of those as we are not all pros. But we all do want the ability to take a nice pic !
The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom
The K Zoom is a phone and pocket camera all mashed into one. It is the vastly improved and slicker new version of the Galaxy S4 Zoom which was a frankly just strange….
The Galaxy K Zoom is a 4.8 inches device measuring at 137.5 x 70.8 x 16.6 mm and weighs 200g which puts it on the heavier side of the phone scale (Galaxy S5 is 145g). The screen is a 720 x 1280 pixels, Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen and is powered by six-core processor with 2GB of RAM and runs Android 4.4.2. It has 8GB storage with MicroSD expansion to 64GB.
So far so phone.
What makes the K Zoom unique is the camera. It comes with a 10x optical zoom lens stuck on its back and a 20.7-megapixel image sensor, along with optical image stabilisation which allows for non-blurry and stable shots even at full zoom.
The device is simple to use especially if you have used any Android product before. Once you log into your Gmail, the system simply synchronises your contacts, calendar, Emails and reinstalls your apps and you are ready to go.
Father’s Day at the Game Park
It was Father’s Day so the family decided to spend the windy Johannesburg day at the Lion and Rhino Park which was the perfect opportunity to test the Samsung K Zoom photographic ability.
As we saw our first batch of animals, the kids (Mia aged 12 and Ella aged 8) became the official testers with only an occasional fight breaking out on the back seat about whose-turn-is-it now to take the photos.
They very quickly figured out that there are three ways to launch the camera: hold down the dedicated shutter button on the body of the device, launch it via the camera app, or swipe the camera icon direct from the locked screen. Simple.
The camera was responded very quickly ensuring that no action was missed out on the plains. Another “big tick” as the kids took their job rating the device very seriously.
The kid kept their shots all in Auto mode, however if you do want to play there are options such as Shots & More which give you the ability to remove items from the image, Best photo, Best Face, Drama Shots etc. There is also the Program Mode which allows you to play with the White Balance, shutter speed, aperture. The Pro Suggest mode allows you to depress the shutter button slightly and automatic effects and recommendations appear at the bottom of the screen to give your shot a new dimension. Essentially a “pro” is helping you enhance your shot.
I have to mention the Selfie Alarm mode. When you activate that feature it places a rectangle on the screen which you can move around and change its size. You can now turn the camera towards you and as soon as your face is inside the rectangle , the camera warns you with beeps and fires off a series of shots. You are now in the pic at the exact place you wanted. Why not simply use the front facing camera? I hear you ask, that is because the front facing camera is 2 Megapixel and the rear one is 20.7 Megapixel. So this way you get to be in the photo, in the area you selected with all the background in full glorious colour.
What I do like about the camera is the ability to tap on the screen and have the focus shift to one part of the image (as you can with multiple other devices). However, here you can also tap and set the exposure to another part of the screen. So it focuses on one area whilst taking the the exposure settings from another which is great for shots where the light conditions are not ideal.
There are lots of camera features to explore but all are easily accessible at a touch of a button where you can turn features on and off just to see what they do.
So what about the images
Here are some images the kids took which were all set to AUTO mode out of a car with the default settings that was set on 15.1M 518×2916 (16:9). Note: I should have changed the picture size to to the highest resolution of 20M 5184×3888 (4:3).
When you look at the images, you notice that they do a decent job of contrasting the colours with the background despite the fact that the lions and the bushes were virtually the same colour. The subject is in focus, the colours are vivid and remain in focus even on the zoomed in subjects.
The fast moving action shots of the Wild Dog having “lunch” s are a bit blurry as they were some distance from the vehicle and on full zoom, but still manages to capture the moment.
The battery lasts an entire day on normal usage even with constant zoom in/ zoom out of the camera which you can do with the volume rocker buttons or with the pinch action. Although the kids didn’t like the pinch action as it was too slow and finicky – agree.
To preserve the battery and the lens the phone retracts the lens when not in use for 2 minutes and the phone goes into sleep mode if you don’t fiddle with that too. This can be irritating if you are just waiting for the right moment to take a shot. I would suggest extending the auto-close camera time to 10 minutes (the max) and the screen timeout to 10 minutes too to avoid this happening.
So in Summary:
This is not for everyone but more for the shutterbugs, Instagramming, live-via-the-lens type of people who still want to make a phone call. And surf the web. And get email. And Listen to music. Whilst not perfect, the images are great in most circumstances – especially when you are not printing and simply uploading to some Social platform. The main point of the phone is the 10x zoom and the 20x software zoom. If you often find yourself in the situation where the action is just beyond your camera’s phone reach (think of the school play or the Band up on stag), then this is a great device to look at. If zooming into action is not your thing, then think about the Galaxy S5 as a less bulky alternative but it does have less Megapixels with less zoom.
The phone is oddly shaped but still fits nicely in your hands and in the jeans-pocket (don’t compare it to the S4 Zoom – they are totally different). I didn’t try it with a cover which would make it slightly more bulky so that is something to note. The phone and camera mash-up is quirky but I liked it and the kids loved it. I can see myself at events being able to capture both the close up shots and those that I would need to have my DSLR with the long lens. I can definitely see this device as being a great travelling companion too.
The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom is available now at Samsung Experience Stores around the country and leading retailers
- GALAXY K Zoom LTE (Model Number SM-C1150): R7 999
- GALAXY K Zoom 3G (Model Number SM-C1110): R7 799