23
Jun
nexusae0_GALAXY-NX-28229

If you listen to the Android Police Podcast, you may be well aware at this point that I'm not the biggest fan of Samsung's Android-powered cameras. And I have reasons for this! I've used the Galaxy Camera as a replacement for my crappy little point-and-shoot for weeks at a time, and it just never grew on me. It was insanely bulky for the very average photos it produced (for a point and shoot costing well over $350), and the lack of simple but powerful features like manual focus (yes, really) was a total turn-off.

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The Galaxy NX will have manual focus. The NX is based on the body of Samsung's large mirrorless NX20, though it's unclear at this point just how much the two share in terms of components. An APS-C sensor of not-exactly-known size, but with 20.3MP of resolution. It will launch with 13 compatible lenses, including a standard 18-55mm kit lens, a telephoto, and a fisheye (because it's artsy, duh).

The Galaxy NX even has a physical flash button, video record button, a digital viewfinder, and what appears to be a mode dial. The mountable lenses have AF/MF switching, and a little shortcut button for tweaking ISO, aperture, shutter speed, EV, and white balance with the aperture ring, since the NX does not have dedicated hardware buttons for these functions (yet another fact photography enthusiasts will lament).

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The entire selling point of this camera, though, is its 4.8" LCD display powered by Android 4.2.2 with TouchWiz and Samsung's NX-specific camera app.

As someone with a burgeoning interest in photography (I look forward to Sony's NEX-7 successor with great anticipation), I cannot help but be frustrated by this device. Even if the price were reasonably competitive (say, sub-$700 for the body and kit lens), I look at the Galaxy NX and see a product that could be so much more, but isn't.

Samsung's vision of the "Android camera" is exactly what camera OEMs should be avoiding - slapping on a touchscreen and an Android phone UI with a special camera app and calling it a day. No. This is not helpful. This is not an "advancement" - it's an extremely forced product line marriage that hopes to extract some kind of hybrid vigor effect between a large mirrorless camera and a smartphone. It is, frankly, lazy.

I am not against the concept of a touchscreen camera powered by Android. I am against a camera that is essentially a TouchWiz phone taped to the back of a DSLR-lookalike. I'm not going to play Angry Birds on my phone, or chat with somebody on Facebook or Hangouts. I'm going to take pictures. My camera being able to instantly upload and share those pictures is very neat, and likely the single best argument for the Galaxy NX, but claiming you need a 4.8" touchscreen and Android to do that is ridiculous. To me, the Galaxy NX is like mounting a Windows PC in the trunk of your car to power your infotainment system.

But, I realize I am not necessarily on the popular end of this debate. What do you think, is the Galaxy NX a killer idea, or DOA? Elaborate in the comments below.

The Galaxy NX: Hot or not?

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David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Sven Joy

    It has potential, but like you said, it just is not that big of an advancement.

  • s4tips

    this camera should be sold under contract by at&t and others :)

    • philnolan3d

      Why? It's not a phone.

      • Hans Pedersen

        They sell tablets and laptops with contracts, don't they?

        • philnolan3d

          Sorry I didn't realize this used wireless .

  • logan

    Where's the option for good idea but execution?

    • CoolCustomer

      That's the option I would vote for.

    • neastws

      The poll is useless because of the lack of options.

      I hate the prevelance of tech journalists immediately dimissing new products because they aren't perfect yet. They want every company to be Apple, but guess what? Samsung is going to figure out what people want by offering lots of options and continuing the lines that sell well.

      How many journalists were talking shit when the Galaxy Note was announced? Now its sold tens of millions of units.

  • solami

    wheres the third option ("Good product, good idea.".... but too expensive)?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      The price is not part of the question.

  • No + Face =

    If it's not the WVIL I'm not interested.

  • Vibrunazo

    > I am not against the concept of a touchscreen camera powered by Android. I am against a camera that is essentially a TouchWiz phone taped to the back of a DSLR-lookalike.

    How do you draw the line? If it simply didn't have Touchwiz you'd be ok with it?

    • teiglin

      This. You say you don't want to play Angry Birds or use Facebook/Hangouts on your camera (actually you said phone, but I'm pretty sure you meant camera), so are you saying Samsung should disable that capability? It's an Android device, so why not allow users to do whatever they want? I can imagine the appeal of doing a quick Hangout while shooting some photos, though I agree with you on the games front.

      Still, I'm curious what you think an Android camera should look like if not this. I do agree it would have been nice to have more physical controls, but if that's your only complaint it seems petty at best to claim that this one problem makes the whole product "could be so much more, but isn't." A touchscreen interface is just more robust than physical buttons anyway.

      Though I'm not a huge photography buff, this seems to me to be more or less what photographers wanted the Galaxy Camera to be--a proper interchangeable-lens camera with both full manual picture control and access to Dropbox/Picasa instant upload. What's missing?

      • CoolCustomer

        Is it weird that I would prefer the Zoom's approach if it was done like an accessory you could snap on your phone for better picture quality and zoom?

  • Herman

    Where's the "Okay product, not a bad but not a good idea either" option?

    I can't choose now. The camera may not be that horrible, it's just that Android doesn't really make this camera much better.

  • http://trapchan.blogspot.com trapchan

    instant awesome picture on facebook, instead of took photo > import > upload.

    maybe?

    • Hans Pedersen

      Well, maybe not Facebook, but any other cloud service that allows full sized images. Or just your job, if you work with photography.

  • Abhijeet Mishra

    My biggest issue with these devices is the inherent lag that Android seems to go through after a while, specially when it's not stock. It's fine on phone or tablet, but I don't want my dedicated camera to one day take time to respond or lag in some way when I want to use it to take a picture. A dedicated camera software/UI is something I'll always prefer on point and shoots/dedicated cameras, despite the advantages a complete smartphone OS might bring.

    That being said, I don't think this is innovation, it's just two different product categories slapped together. hopefully, the image quality will be great, but that's something any device running Android seems to be unable to do. At least match Nokia's older devices like the N8 or 808 PureView, but those devices still remain unbeaten, probably because manufacturers aren't actually looking into image quality the way Nokia has over the past years. Sad.

    • Hans Pedersen

      If you end up in that situation, you just learn to manage what you have installed and lets run actively in the background. Just like you do with your PC. Pretty simple actually,

      • Abhijeet Mishra

        That's the thing, it's not something people want to do on that camera. And even without much apps installed, Android isn't the smoothest or quickest OS out there, again, especially when it's been bloated with Sense or TouchWiz and the like. Also, it's high time Google provided an option to control what runs in background and what cannot from a dedicated menu, as right now too much stuff starts running services and processes in the background, which is a problem for the simplistic and not so technical users out there (which does include photography experts.)

        • Hans Pedersen

          How do you know? We don't mind that on our PC, tablet or phone. Why is it a problem with this? Sorry, but I really don't see the point of that argument.

  • TheFirstUniverseKing

    What would be a better way to integrate Android into a camera than a fancy camera app? You give a complaint, but don't offer up a solution.

    • Martin

      He didn't offer a logical argument too. The only reason is to whine about TouchWiz...

  • Hkas

    One reason: instant upload

  • philnolan3d

    Of course it's an innovation. At least I've never seen it being done before.

  • nsnsmj

    I think it could potentially be a good idea, but I don't care about Samsung's cameras. In my opinion, Sony's cameras are a lot better (some would argue the best). If they decided to do something similar, provided their software is good, I'd be a helluva lot more interested.

    • Hans Pedersen

      Some would argue that the image quality of any APS-C camera is pretty much indistinguishable today. That The quality of the lenses are also pretty much indistinguishable. But they would be mad, because they don't pick a product just based on a name. :)

      Things that differ the most on these cameras are shutter lag, sure, the more expensive Sony cameras are often a bit faster, so that would make the Sony a better choice. ...and features, and there Android beats any other APS-C camera firmware.

      Price will probably be the worst enemy of this camera. I can't imagine that this will be anywhere near the price level of the competition.

  • MrHaroHaro

    It's already been done:

  • Hm

    I'm not going to play angry birds on my *camera*...?

  • Hans Pedersen

    Why always this hate towards new Samsung products at this site? Just for the extra clicks and riled up comments?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      I personally like Samsung's products and use the Note II myself. I know David Ruddock went through the Note II himself, then the S4, but is now using the One, but like a lot of people he's of the opinion that Samsung tries to do everything and see what sticks rather than doing a few things really right. The hopelessly outdated by now TouchWiz UI is a big factor too. I don't mind it as much, as to me the benefits of the Note II outweigh its downsides, but I'm starting to really dislike this outdated interface that wasn't updated for the GS4.

      So what I'm saying is he's critical of Samsung's barrage of products, questioning whether they actually serve the purpose other than simply flooding the market with stuff. In this case, I personally consider the NX a welcomed addition. David doesn't seem to.

  • Mehmet Fatih

    go dslr..

  • Gav456

    Seems to me that (yet again) Samsung are launching a mediocre product, calling it galaxy, and hoping it will sell because of name and brand association alone. *cough, Apple, cough*
    What they should be doing is streamlining vanilla android to it's core and designing a launcher+ camera app to run, not bloating with touch-wiz. it is half-assed. For me, you shouldn't be able to tell the camera is running android at all, not unless you install nova. It should look and feel like a camera, not a phone with a big camera attached

    • Kevin Sharpe

      you can call it mediocre without ever having used it?
      -looks impressed -

  • Wesley Modderkolk

    Looking at the pic I cannot help to ask myself this; Why the hell do I need an Calendar app on my camera(or other of those apps)?

    • Sean Lumly

      Why would a smartphone need a 'boob jiggling' app? It doesn't, but it wouldn't make much sense to condemn the device, the manufacturer, or Google Play because it *can* run such an application.

      • Wesley Modderkolk

        A boob jiggling app is quite funny at times, I cant say the same about the Calendar apps. Do you want to use the camera as a personal assistant or something?

        • Sean Lumly

          My larger point was that having the ability to run a calendar app (or any other app), in no way takes away from the camera's ability to perform its core function of taking photos.

          Ironically, I can easily see a calendar being an extremely useful feature for a working professional. A calendar notification will be able to notify a busy user using the camera where (s)he should be whilst shooting. A wedding photographer, or trade-show journalist may have to adhere to a place-to-place schedule, that can be pre-planned via a schedule right on the device. If they are part of a larger team, all of this can be coordinated and updated on-the-fly by a team-leader using a shared Google Calendar. Finally, since Google Calendar includes location, the photographer could easily determine where they should be going at a moments notice and even get directions, and a quick glance at Google Now will give weather and hence lighting conditions.

          The idea is simple: a photographer can hear or see the notification right on the device. There is no need to juggle an additional smartphone or laptop when it's time to change locations -- the info is displayed right on the camera that they are busily using.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            I just hope it doesn't go off during a video shoot :P

          • Sean Lumly

            ;)

          • Wesley Modderkolk

            True, an calendar app doesnt take away any function of the device, but it isnt really needed. And imo it shows a bit of the "half arsed" the article talks about. Calendar might be one that maybe has some function, but think about all the other apps that are on there, none of them are really needed, the whole UI isnt really needed if you ask me.

            You turn it on>Camera UI with a few on screen buttons(like Share and Tools) would be useful and pretty much all that is needed. The whole Touchwiz UI and all that bogus isnt really needed and only takes away space on the internal memory card. Space that could be good used for the photos.

            Sure, the overall idea sure has potential, but this doesnt seem like much more than a decent quality camera, android on it with a special Camera app(someone should port that one to other devices)

          • Sean Lumly

            Some would have said the same thing about the whole 'smartphone' concept. Why would I need my phone to play-a-game/access-calendar/surf-the-web/unlock-doors/read-emails/play-music/watch-movies/take-pictures/control-rc-cars/draw-pictures/edit-photos/dictate-text/ssh-server-admin/pay-bills/be-a-wifi-hotspot/purchase-items/redeem-coupons/scan-barcodes/view-photos/board-airplanes/control-televisions/control-light-fixtures/video-chat/etc/etc/etc/etc.... After all, smartphones have decent phone capabilities but do the above in a "half ar$ed" way..

            "You turn it on>Camera UI with a few on screen buttons(like Share and Tools) would be useful and pretty much all that is needed."

            Just because you personally can't see a use of additional functions of a general OS, it is unwise to presume to know what everyone else might do with such a device.

            This is my last message. Best of luck.

  • Sean Lumly

    The RSS feed related to this article had this quote: "The Galaxy NX, I can only hope, will have manual focus." This statement is very unlikely to be a typo (of a presumed earlier draft), but hints that the author -- despite very strong opinion of the device -- doesn't have experience with it and lacked basic information about it when forming his opinion. While I respect the opinion of the author, it makes it hard to take statements like "I look at the Galaxy NX and see a product that could be so much more, but isn't" seriously.

    A few other things to note:
    1) The sensor used in the device has been discovered by Brian Klug of Anandtech. (Samsung CMOS Image Sensor S5KCT3)
    2) The flash button is for the pop-up flash incorporated into the device.
    3) The devices ability to 'play angry birds' in no way takes away from the devices ability to shoot photos.

  • feres13

    Would've been better if the software was designed for a camera, Google Glass uses Android but is completely different. I don't need e mail, the calendar, contacts, alarm, s voice or widgets and homescreens in my camera, i'd rather have an experience focused on the camera app, the gallery features and sharing to 3rd party apps or services. Not anything distracting from what a camera is supposed to do

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Why wouldn't you want email on your camera? I'd most definitely want to share using email. Contacts to figure out who you want to share with. Calendar, alarm, etc I agree with, but you don't have to use them. Sounds like all you need is to pull out the things you want to use to a homescreen and forget about other apps you *can* but *don't have to* run.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    I'm going to have to fully disagree with @rdr0b11:disqus here. I don't see a valid argument against - instead, I am seeing complaining for the sake of complaining and complaining about having options where we previously had no options. Options are suddenly a bad thing.

    Going with Android has a bunch of benefits. Outside of the probably higher price, which you yourself said has nothing to do with your question and isn't part of the equation, I don't see a clear downside of running Android, or rather, the camera app being part of something bigger - the Android OS. Think of the current DSLR and mirrorless non-Android offerings as running an app and having a very narrow focus. Here, Android offers the flexibility, if you want it. If not - just use the stock setup and the camera app Samsung bundled.

    Hardware controls can be easily hooked up to software, and the NX has plenty of hardware buttons.

    On the other hand, Android offers familiar app integration (want to auto-upload to Dropbox? Box? Drive? YouTube? Email? Sure, why not?), software updates using the Android upgrade procedure (when was the last time an SLR sized camera received a friendly upgrade with any meaningful changes?), on-device picture editing using your favorite Android app, your LTE camera can become your Wi-Fi hotspot, and so on.

    I have the Canon T2i, and I can't count the number of times lately that I wanted to do some of these things. With the NX, I can. At this point, I kind of wish Canon would follow suit so I can use all my lenses without buying new ones.

    Once again, you're complaining about the technology without having used it and without analyzing whether hey - that's actually good user experience and the added benefits could be worth the extra price bump.

    • http://www.ScienceProUSA.com SciencePro

      "when was the last time an SLR sized camera received a friendly upgrade with any meaningful changes?"

      Quite often actually, Canon has brought key features to their DSLR line before (usually on the pro models, not necessarily the Rebel's, but there's always Magic Lantern for that).

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        I know Canon updates the SLRs but I haven't seen any kind of meaningful updates yet, outside of Magic Lantern, and even with that one. You did say Pro, true. I'm still waiting for auto focus for video on the T serious. Come on, even smartphones can do it.

        • http://www.ScienceProUSA.com SciencePro

          The T4i has it but it's not good. While I'm not knowledgeable enough to explain why, my understanding is that the physical design of the focusing system doesn't allow for the kind of continuous autofocus like you get on a smartphone or point & shoot. To me, using a DSLR as a regular walkaround camcorder is overkill so it's not a feature I would want on a DSLR. Even if my 60D had it I'd never use it.

          • Freak4Dell

            This is correct. Most DSLRs use phase detection for autofocus when the mirror is down, which they design to work properly when the mirror is down. To record video, the mirror needs to be up all the time, and their AF sensors aren't optimized or properly located for phase detection AF to work when the mirror is up. The camera reverts to contrast detection AF, which is slower than phase detection.

            A lot of the newer mirrorless cameras now use phase detection, which is why they're so fast in focusing on live view. Because they're mirrorless, they don't have to be optimized to focus when the mirror is down, so they can focus on making one type of AF work properly at all times.
            DSLRs aren't made to be home camcorders, and I would hate to see them go that way. They can be fantastic for filmmaking if you know what you're doing, but their primary function is photography, and I'd rather that the companies focus on that. If video is a primary concern, it's best to get a mirrorless system. Having both types of cameras cost me a little more money, but I get two products that are extremely good at one thing they do, rather than one that's just mediocre at doing two things.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            Thanks for chiming in. Helpful.

    • Herman

      And think about the possibilities of modders - if you don't like the camera app or settings, you can customise it yourself probably much easier than on any other DSLR!

  • Bleakvision

    Good that you brought up the NEX line. Their touch screen UI is atrocious. Android will solve that immediately.

    And just because this camera lacks the dials and quick access buttons that does not preclude such a pro ready Android camera from ever existing.

    All in all a good first product by Samsung.

  • Martin

    WTF... If this were about phones, the guy who wrote the article would write:

    "I'm not going to play Angry Birds on my phone, or chat with somebody on Facebook or Hangouts. I'm going to take phone calls."

  • David Spivey

    "To me, the Galaxy NX is like mounting a Windows PC in the trunk of your car to power your infotainment system." Actually, it is extremely popular to do exactly this. Enthusiasts on the forums of mp3car.com showcase Windows-based PCs that fit in the trunk, under the seats, or other out-of-the-way areas. They also do the same with devices like the Nexus 7. I almost feel like posting a "your argument is invalid" meme picture here.

    While you may never consider using a Windows PC in your doesn't mean there isn't a whole group of people who would just love to have Windows in their car. The same way, you may not prefer to have android on your camera, but that doesn't mean there isn't a market for it. I, for one, would welcome a reason to carry a better camera everywhere I go. A camera has one use (taking pictures or videos). This means that under normal circumstances I don't think of carrying one everywhere I go. I just don't expect to take pictures everywhere. This means that sometimes I miss the greatest pictures of my life because all I have is a smartphone camera without zoom. However, if my "regular" camera had android, it would be with me everywhere, because it would have other uses, like checking my emails or playing games.

    • smeddy

      Lol I used to do this too back in '03 :)

    • Jafar

      the car has windows anyways lol :P

  • Alex Murphy

    I think we'll see the real innovation in the app developers that create amazing new photo/video/interactive apps taking advantage of large image sensors and will work across many of these new prosumer android cameras.

    • RodneyE.Jones

      No. If you want a phone with a real innovative camera wait for the Nokia "EOS"... With the super intuitive Windowsphone OS... The Lumia 920 won 2012 SPOTY, and the "EOS" will win Endgagets 2013 SPOTY!! Guaranteed.. If you buy anything else you're missing out big time!

      • jacob

        your check's in the mail.

        • RodneyE.Jones

          Lol!.. I'll use it to get you a Nokia "EOS"!! After you spend time with a nokia device, running WP, you'll understand.

  • RodneyE.Jones

    The only company innovating in mobile phones right now is NOKIA!
    That's how the Lumia 920 won smartphone of the year!

  • societyofosiris

    I purchased the Galaxy Camera as a gift and upgrade from a point and click for my fiancé. I ended up using that camera just as much as she did and we love the ease of use and features it provides. Not being photo saavy myself, I handed the Galaxy Camera to a professional photographer and had her look it over. She was taken back by the fact that it was a 4G LTE device with optical zoom. I pointed out the expert mode and she was snapping some amazing shots. Her only negative remark was that it wasn't Apple and that she could believe Samsung was behind it.

  • http://visionaforethought.wordpress.com/ Oflife

    Lack of tactile controls and an articulating display are the let downs. I have a Sony NEX 5R that whilst still not perfect ergonomically, does offer enough physical buttons to perform operations whilst shooting. The articulating display has allowed me to get some unique shots that would be harder to compose without. All said, the WiFi features on both cameras would allow one to use a separate smart phone as a remote viewfinder, but that is a bit of a hassle.
    It was lack of tactile controls that put me off the otherwise "not bad for a first generation innovative device" Galaxy Camera.

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