You might have seen the Nokia-produced images comparing the Lumia 920 and another unknown smartphone. You might have also heard that they were just representations of the quality difference the the Lumia 920 can achieve with its optical stabilization. Today, at Photokina in Koeln, I was able to see it with my own eyes and I can tell you, Nokia are not lying. The OIS feature on the Lumia 920 enables shutter speeds down to the 1/4 second range without blur and helps create amazingly stable videos.
The usual disclaimers apply here. Photos were taken handheld under non-scientific conditions. All I can say is that you should look at the EXIF data for some comparisons on sensitivity. I found the sensitivity to be very good but image clarity/sharpness a little lacking. Obviously I can’t draw any conclusions with a 30 minute hands-on but I’m posting the images for you anyway.
I’ve just had about 45 minutes with the Samsung Galaxy Camera. It’s damn impressive and after 30 minutes I haven’t been able to find any a major issues in either the OS, the build or the camera quality. The OIS system, a key advantage over any smartphone (apart from the Lumia 920) is good and really helps get the most out of the zoom. ISO 3200 images will be OK for online use and the operation of the device stretches from point-and-shoot, all the way up to a fairly usable manual mode with ISO, aperture, shutter speed and exposure compensation right at the fingertips. It’s an amazing bit of kit, with an amazing price.
“Stabilisation is a huge challenge for cameraphones because there’s not enough processing power to do it well enough in software and no room for optical stabilisation.”
Nokia may have solved the problem with “Floating Lens Technology” on the Nokia Lumia 920.
Technical details are unavailable right now but I’m excited to see that as it will a) allow slower shutter speeds (more light) b) reduce the need for xenon flash to freeze motion c) allow for longer zoom d) reduce video bitrates.
It’s no surprise that we’re seeing the first next-generation smart camera from Samsung today. Announced just minutes ago the Samsung Galaxy Camera is everything you imagine. Android powered, 3G/4G capable and offering F2.8 minimum F-stop, 16mp sensor and an amazing, 21x zoom lens.
The Android system is fully powered too with a quad-core procesor running at 1.4Ghz, 8GB of internal space and 4.8” touchscreen. To top it off, the Galaxy Camera will run the latest version of Android – 4.1 Jelly Bean.
At HiBlue, the focus is on the next generation of smart cameras – cameras that are fully converged with a mobile operating system and communication options that we see on smartphones. The devices haven’t hit the market yet but they’re coming. For some they’ll be an exciting and creative enhancement to photography but to others, they may not be the best solution.
The case against Smart Cameras say they are too converged and that a modular solution of dedicated camera and separate smartphone or tablet-based app/communication hub is better. Eye-Fi have been promoting this type of solution for a while now and separating the camera and ‘smart’ device’ is also the core of the Samsung Smart Camera strategy for the time being. So what’s the real deal? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the next generation of smart cameras?
You’ll be surprised to see an image of a digital camera here on Carrypad. Read on to find out why.
In my opinion, digital photos and the Internet go together like a match made in heaven. I’ve been a mobile internet photographer for nearly 3 years with my Nokia N82 and a recent post about the Nokia N8 will show you that I plan to continue. In my search to improve my mobile photo/video -blogging capabilities I came across the Samsung ST5500 camera.
This is a review of the online capabilities of that camera with respect to my requirements. Again, see this post for more info on my requirements.
The Samsung ST5500 is a standard compact camera with a 7x optical zoom and 14.1mp sensor. Price 200 Euro today in Germany (I bought it.) The interesting thing about it is that it is operated through a touch user interface (apart form power, playback, shutter and zoom controls) and runs an operating system that has WiFi, BT and DLNA support for sending and receiving images with other devices and internet services like Picasa, Facebook and YouTube.
I won’t need to take much of your time today with this mini-review because quite frankly, this is a device that underperforms on its Internet features quite significantly. So much so that I won’t need to talk much about image and video quality.
In theory you can transfer images via Bluetooth 2.0. Over Wifi it will connect to the internet and send images to Picasa, Facebook and videos to YouTube. There’s an email function, camera-to-camera transfer function and two types of DLNA setup (server and controller.) You can also connect to the Samsung image service. It all sounds quite exciting. Here’s what Samsung sayâ€¦
Send a silly self-portrait to your best friend, upload a video of your Dad dancing to YouTube, or browse your best shots on your big screen TV. And do it all wirelessly. Here’s how. Just use the ST5500’s Bluetooth to instantly send a photo to another mobile phone. Or rely on the Wi-Fi capability to email it directly from the camera or upload it seamlessly to Picassa [sic], Facebook, YouTube, and samsungimaging.com. You can even upload a video you just shot to YouTube. And with its ALLShare* technology, you can actually manage, view and share your photos conveniently from the couch by connecting wirelessly to your big-screen TV.
Oh how the reality differs. You can do all the above butâ€¦ Bluetooth transfers are cut down to 640×480 (or less for a 16:9 image) and YouTube transfers are limited to 320×240 clips of less than 30 seconds. All image transfers to Facebook, Picasa and other services are limited to 2Mp.
What a joke. What an absolute joke. This is worse than most cameraphones. What I really don’t understand is why? Why limit bluetooth transfers to 640×480. It’s not like the Bluetooth bandwidth is going to cost the user a lot of money. Were they designing on a device with BT1.1 perhaps? As for the YouTube limits, again, what are they thinking? Give the user an option at least for HQ. A 480p wide-screen video can look quite good but really, QVGA in 2010, 2011?
That’s not allâ€¦
Picasa is not working for me. I have recently linked my Picasa account to my Google account and I suspect that the ST5500 can’t handle the update which brings up a huge issue. What happens when the login APIs change? Is Samsung going to keep the firmware up-to-date?
While the ST5500 will transfer over Bluetooth to my Samsung Galaxy Tab, it doesn’t work with my netbook. It can’t even see my netbook.
Every time you want to TX via Bluetooth you have to create a passcode. The concept of paring and trust is unsupported.
Passwords are also required every time you connect to a service. Given that there’s no access security on the phone, maybe this is a good thing so Samsung need to think about a way to speed this process up. A 4-digit lock code as access to all network functions seems easier to me.
WiFi disconnects after use. This is clearly to save battery life but I think there’s scope here to have a 15 minute timeout after use.Maybe they are using a power-heavy (perhaps old?) WiFi module.
The email function works. It sends 2MP images which actually work quite nicely for use on the Internet. The problem here is that Samsung are signing every photo sent with an advert: â€œSent to you via Samsung’s ST 5500. Samsung Smart Cameras. Innovation makes it easy. inch There seems to be no way to change this. Photo’s must be going through Samsung mail servers too because there’s no option to define a SMTP mail server.
So, to recap, the Bluetooth function is near useless. The Wifi function is limited and the email service comes with adverts. I briefly tested the DLNA service with my Galaxy Tab and couldn’t get anything to transfer or even show in file lists. 100% of the internet sharing features on this camera have issues. It’s enough for me to say â€œno. It’s not for me. inch Actually I’m a bit pissed that Samsung don’t come clean about these restrictions. You can find them on Page 102 of the PDF manual which comes on a CDROM with the device!!! (Image in full article to the right.)
Looking at the Nokia N8 today (I have some sample photos up on Flickr â€“ N8 wins this low-light close-range test) I realize what an amazing bit of hardware it really is but I really wouldn’t mind having N8 software on this ST5500 hardware. From a compact camera perspective, image quality isn’t bad at all and the software advantage would propel the ST5500 into a new category.
Photo and video issues to be aware of thoughâ€¦
No F-stop or shutter speed settings. If you like manual control, the ST5500 doesn’t give you too much of it.
No HDMI cable provided. This is the second time in a week that I’ve had a product that claims to have HDMI out but doesn’t provide a cable in the box. (For comparison the Nokia N8 comes with HDMI and USB adaptor cables.)
No soft case provided. With the resistive touchscreen you need a case although it does have to be said that there are few mechanical buttons on this device. That’s a good point. A case is still needed to protect that screen though.
The ‘cradle’ is simply a stand, a piece of moulded plastic that doesn’t really do its job when connected to the relatively heavy USB cable. I wonder why they provided it when the device can stand on its own.
Instruction manual only on CD. Seriously, I have only one PC that has a CDROM reader now and it’s down in my cellar. I rarely use it. I ended up downloading the manual from the Samsung website. [Click for English manual as PDF] Providing a micro-SD card (none provided) with the PDF would have been easier.
After about 2hrs of playing I had a crash. It required battery removal
No continuous AF on video
OMG! I am so stupid. I thought every digital camera from a reputable brand at 200 Euro could handle continuous auto focus in videos. I was wrong. This is a huge showstopper for me, someone that will pan from expo-hall down to a products USB port. The ST5500 can only handle pre-focus for videos and once you’ve started shooting, there’s no going back. Even the pause feature doesn’t allow re-focus. I’m sure that there are a lot of people out there, just as dumb as me, that are going to wonder why the close-up on their baby goes all fuzzy!
A fault on the deviceâ€¦
Suspiciously the box was unsealed. On boot, the welcome screen did not show and I was immediately thrown into a German language setup. (I realized after reading the manual that there should have been an intro screen with time, date and language choice) and then, after taking the first video, it became clear. The ST5500 I have is broken. The audio isn’t working on the video. All I get is a crackly noise. Snogard of Frechen, Koeln â€“ You appear to have taken back a faulty device and put it on the shelf for sale. You will be getting the ST5500 back tomorrow. Do NOT put it back on the shelf. I note the serial number for reference: 49BICS0Z400063.
For 200 Euro I’m getting much better image quality than the 350 Euro (as I remember) Canon S2IS I bought 3 years ago. It’s much lighter too and, assuming the 720p video works, it’s a great step up in video quality. In terms of value for money it doesn’t seem bad but hey, Samsung, you know what? I haven’t tested many other compact cameras yet and my friends on Twitter are telling me there are better optical devices out there. On top of that, Samsung, you’ve positioned this as a connected device. It’s connected in a very, very limited way at a time when smartphones can share in HD. Samsung, your camera department needs to speak to your smartphone department urgently.
Remember the Archos 605 Wifi? It was one of the first internet-connected media players and it was a step towards the good quality Internet media devices that Archos are producing today. Like the 605 Wifi, the ST5500 shows that the concept is good and the hardware components are there but a lot of software development work is needed.
We’re approaching a time where phones are reaching compact camera quality and absolutely trouncing them in terms of connectivity. The compact camera market needs to adapt quickly and exploit its position of having quality zoom optics. If they don’t do that, someone will come along and bite a huge chunk of the market away. Maybe Nokia will re-introduce their optical focus lenses. Maybe Altek have the right idea alreadyâ€¦