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Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom review | Digital Camera

Published on: Thursday, September 5th 2013                   Written by: Ilse Jurrien - Photography by: Mark Peters

Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom smartphone

Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom smartphone

24mm lens with 10x optical zoom

The optical zoom makes for a completely new look. Not everyone will find this visible camera lens positive. Other smartphones often have a digital zoom lens, and therefore a flatter design. What exactly is the difference between optical zoom and digital zoom? When zooming in, the image is brought closer. With digital zoom, the image quality is reduced, and this is because the final image is enlarged. A normal photo is taken and the part that is zoomed in on is the focus. This image is then enlarged to the original dimensions. With optical zoom, the lens enlarges the image. The different lens parts move in relation to each other, so that the viewing angle changes. The complete surface of the image sensor is then used, maintaining the resolution, with sharp and detailed photos as the end result. The 10x optical zoom on the Galaxy S4 Zoom increases the zoom range of the 24 mm wide-angle lens to a mere 240mm.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom camera

Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom camera

Camera functions via the Zoom ring

The zoom ring around the lens gives you direct access to the camera function. Just like the compact camera, the Galaxy S4 Zoom has a number of setting possibilities. Via the zoom ring, you can choose from Auto mode, the Gallery, as well as Night, Macro, Landscape, Face, and Animation modes. You must take into consideration that the lens moves outwards when the camera application starts up. This means that you cannot hold the phone easily in all ways. Moreover, the lens is placed quite far to the side. When you hold the phone in the camera position, your left hand is uncomfortable. Since the device is thinner than a regular compact camera, your hand wraps around the device more to get more grip and create more stability while shooting. This is not only problematic during photography. When you hold the phone for another reason in landscape mode, for example to play a game, the lens gets in the way.

 

16 megapixel Samsung digital camera

16 megapixel Samsung digital camera

Photography with the Galaxy S4 Zoom

Once you are in the camera app, you can push the ‘Mode’ button to switch between the ‘Auto’, ‘Smart’, and ‘Expert’ modes. The Smart Mode recognizes different lighting conditions, landscapes, and objects, and usually recommends the right setting. In Smart Mode, you have a choice from a mere 25 possibilities. Next to the regular scene modes, you can also choose for HDR, Panorama, and Continuous shooting. For the advanced photographer, the Galaxy S4 Zoom offers a variety of settings, although the Expert mode is arranged differently than many photographers are used to. In Expert mode, you can choose from M, P, and C. With the M-mode, you can adjust settings such as shutter speed and aperture. The P-mode gives you access to settings such as brightness, ISO, and white balance. In C-mode, you can change settings such as colors, contrast, saturation, and focus.

Samsung Galaxy digital camera

Samsung Galaxy digital camera

Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom image quality

The digital cameras in Samsung smartphones have never been disappointing. The Galaxy S4 Zoom also delivers good image quality for a smartphone. Or do we compare it with a compact camera now? The camera performs fairly well in bad lighting conditions. However, it is not comparable with a 500 EUR compact camera, but fair is fair, they cannot make phone calls, nor do they have the other smartphone functionalities that the S4 Zoom has. The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom has an ISO range of 100 - 3200, but above ISO 800 noise becomes so obvious that it decreases image quality. The autofocus works well, the white balance and color representation are OK, and thanks to the optical image stabilization, most of the photos are sharp. Sharpness is sometimes missing with longer focal lengths.

 

Samsung In-Call Photo Share

Samsung In-Call Photo Share

Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom In-Call Photo Share

With the In-call Photo Share function, the Galaxy S4 Zoom makes optimal use of its smartphone and camera functionalities. While in a phone call, you can activate the In-call Photo Share function via the zoom ring. Then you can take a photo and send it immediately in a text message to the contact that you are calling. This is a very fun way to give meaning to your story, by sending an accompanying photo.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom videos

Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom videos

Recording videos with the Galaxy S4 Zoom

The Galaxy S4 Zoom can also record videos in a maximum resolution of 1920x 1080 Full HD @ 30fps. As soon as you push the video button, the recording starts. You can also pause the video recording. The Full HD videos are of good quality, you can zoom in with the zoom ring effortlessly and noiselessly. There is also a function that counteracts wind noise. The camera does have some difficulty with the right exposure and focusing.

 
 
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