Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Review
The S4 Zoom sports a 16 MP camera with, you guessed it, optical zoom capabilities. These are up to 10x, and can be called with either the lens zoom ring, the volume rocker, or with a slider within the camera app. The ring makes a nice clicking sound when you rotate it, for the joy of camera geeks worldwide.
The zoom ring also serves another function called Camera Mode Shortcut – outside of the camera app you can just turn it a little in any direction, and a jog dial with the most used shooting modes appears, so you can quickly select the one suitable for the occasion and take a shot. The ring rotates pretty often while you are handling the phone with one hand, though, as there is just no easy way to place your fingers on the back without touching it even a little.
Samsung states that the CMOS sensor is 1.8x bigger than your typical smartphone sensor, and is backside-illuminated, and these should mean better photography with less light around in principle. To further aid low-light capabilities, Samsung graced the handset with a Xenon flash and an optical image stabilization mechanism.
OIS compensates for your hands' movements by shifting the module in the opposite direction numerous times per second. This allows for the sensor to be much more stable, hence slower shutter speeds can be used in low-light conditions without the typical blur, just like on the Nokia Lumia flagships and the HTC One. The OIS system is also useful while zoomed in, where each little movement can throw the whole frame off the tracks. In our experience with the S4 Zoom, the OIS mechanism is not as advanced as the multiaxis one on the Lumia 920/925, which indeed makes the lens appear “floating,” while the one in the Zoom appears to be more in the category of the HTC One OIS mechanism, which doesn't compensate a rocking boat, for example, but certainly helps avoid blue at low-light scenarios.
The camera app offers four general shooting modes – automatic, manual, smart and My Mode – which can be accessed on the right in the interface. The manual mode, called Expert, lets you adjust every little aspect of your picture-taking – from up to 3200 ISO through shutter speeds up to 16s, to adjusting the color “sense” of the frame and numerous white balance settings. There are two aperture options – open f/3.1 and closed at f/8.8 – to choose from, and these change along with the zoom level, going up to open at f/6.3 and closed at f/17.8 when you arrive at the maximum 10x zoom..
The camera app interface
The Smart regime has no less than 26 preset modes, ranging from the usual Rich Tone (HDR), Panorama and Best Face, to more exotic ones like Golf, Baby and Food. Golf takes a number of pics in quick succession to catch that perfect swing, Baby issues a funny sound pre-shot to attract your toddler's attention, and Food just makes for that perfect Instagram posting of your breakfast, you know you want it. Smart Suggest is also an interesting one here, as it offers you to choose the best suited presets when you half-press the shutter key or touch to focus.
My Mode you can populate with shortcuts to your preferred presets, or the phone picks for you from the ones you are using the most. A number of color effects evoked from the bottom round up the rich camera app functions.
The photos themselves are on par with a very good point-and-shoot camera, and certainly much better than the ones from your smartphone, except for the 808 PureVew. The automatic mode tends to oversaturate the colors a bit in comparison with our reference Panasonic Lumix GH2 camera, but the result is very eye-pleasing, not gaudy as some compact cams make it.
The Galaxy S4 Zoom captures plenty of detail, and the zoom function is a godsend if you want to close in without moving and causing disturbance.
High dynamic range scenes are measured correctly, without over- or underexposed areas, and the handset picks up the white balance settings right each time, without any weirdly colored regions or edges. Noise is not an issue as well, so we wish the algorithms were set for a tad more defined picture, as even in low-light scenarios the phone keeps noise levels in check very successfully, so the automatic mode could have been programmed to churn out a sharper, more distinct photo, although with a bit more noise.
Indoors the phone performs very well, and certainly better than all smartphone cameras so far, keeping noise to a minimum, and details distinct, though the pics turn softish at medium luminance. Noise creeps up when you set the ISO higher, and becomes almost unbearable at 3200, which can be expected. There are no white balance issues that so often result in cold or warm hues on other handsets in medium lighting level, and the Xenon flash distributes the light evenly, without weird object shadows, good for about 10 feet distance.
Video is recorded in 1080p with 30fps, with good amount of detail and saturated colors, and you can use the optical zoom while shooting. There is an option in the settings you have to check, so as the phone weeds out the zoom motor noise. Another option lets it cut the piercing wind sound that often invades the mics outside, and the phone's microphone records very strong and clear sound while filming.
1. Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Sample Video
2. Panasonic GH2 Sample Video
3. Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Indoor Sample Video
The gallery has the usual split-view layout and pinch-to-rearrange abilities, and it also sports a rich photo editing power built directly in the interface. It lets you resize, crop, paint, add text and effects over the photos, as well as enhance them automatically.
The music player is the tried stock TouchWiz one that offers a number of sound modes and equalizer presets built in. Despite the chunky phone body, the loudspeaker is a relatively wimpy affair of average quality, just like on your typical smartphone.
The in-ear stereo headphones are Samsung GH59-11720A, which is the same pair that comes with the Galaxy S III, for instance, not the fancy ones bundled with the S4, so they are sounding pretty average, too.
Video playback is spotless, with the phone running all popular formats, including DivX/Xvid and MKV, and up to 1080p resolution at that.
1. KINGJUAN27 (Posts: 196; Member since: 02 Jul 2012)
This trying hard camera phone crap from Samsuck should get a 6 or a 7. LOL. Biased as always!
5. Boreni (banned) (Posts: 28; Member since: 22 Feb 2013)
"The “phone” is rather bulky at 15.4mm"
Most of the phone is 25mm and not 15.4mm so the phone thickness is 25mm!
Say that the phone is 15.4mm thick is lie to the public.
15. ebubekir26 (Posts: 312; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)
you don't have to bash Samsung like that, you may not like the device, I don't, but some people do, photoghraphers or people who are into photography,
21. yudi.nemesis (Posts: 1127; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)
For photoghraphers or people who are into photography quality is number 1 and with the same price point we can find compact camera with superior quality.
So only samsung die hard fans will like and buy S4 zoom
24. Bioload25 (Posts: 213; Member since: 12 Nov 2012)
Not necessarily,if a photographer needs to use a phone and "professional" camera to share photos with his boss,for example,this might be a good alternative...
If someone purchases a Samsung device,that person might not be a fanboy,the possibilities of liking that specific device are very high...
(sorry,im brazilian and my english may not be correct)
30. yudi.nemesis (Posts: 1127; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)
i think no one will use S4 zoom as their main smartphone and if those photographer need optical zoom they can use optical zoom accessory it's smaller and they can take it off so their smartphone doesn't look like bulky brick.
or they can buy some compact camera with WIFI support so they can share photos with everybody
with that price point there is no good reason to buy S4 zoom
35. maccess (Posts: 632; Member since: 16 Jan 2013)
just say whatever reasons you want kid.. you just trying hard to make people dislike this phone or samsung's phone.. if you don't like samsung no need to manipulate other people mind with your PERSONAL OPINION kid...
38. yudi.nemesis (Posts: 1127; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)
Yeah at least my PERSONAL OPINION not some BS.
i can’t manipulate other people mind, i just show them there is better options but if you or other people like and want to buy S4 Zoom i can’t do anything with that.
i’m sure anyone who smart enough will agree with me, because we can find compact camere with better quality, cheaper even some of them have smaller size
40. Bioload25 (Posts: 213; Member since: 12 Nov 2012)
Yudi,you've forgotten na inportant point: the S4 Zoom is still a very good midranger phone,and the fact that anyone can buy it (photographer or not),only the consumer determinates the usefulness of the phone,if u dont agree with its performance and price point,please,dont buy it
Another thing: if you see better photo quality on compact cameras,that doesnt indicate necessarily that this phone loses in câmera department,because its your interpretation of the images...
(again,sorry my bad english)
41. yudi.nemesis (Posts: 1127; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)
S4 Zoom is just average performer both in camera quality (compare to compact camera) and as android smartphone, at online store S4 zoom is around $600.
with $600 I can buy some high end android smartphone
or i can buy midranger with good camera for day to day use + compact camera with wifi
just like i said before there is better option than S4 zoom and photographer or not, for anyone who is smart enough the will choose the best option available
44. Bioload25 (Posts: 213; Member since: 12 Nov 2012)
and again its your perception about the quality of the phone bro,that doesnt mean its the only opinion in the whole market... somebody may hate the galaxy s4 zoom (like u,for example) but someone may like the phone,open your mind a little bit...
45. yudi.nemesis (Posts: 1127; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)
it’s not my perception about the phone, S4 zoom is just average performer in terms of camera and smartphone.
my mind is wide opened so thats why i can see many better options
i know the truth is some people may like it and other not but it’s not what i’m trying to say.
i said with the same price point we can get high end smartphone or midranger phone with good camera for day to day use + compact camera
Having great midrange phone and compact camera with better quality with the same amount of money is smarter and better options than expensive camera phone with average performance
46. Bioload25 (Posts: 213; Member since: 12 Nov 2012)
Theorically yes,but you seem to like the compact cameras and holding the thing all around,pressing hard buttons all the time and waiting some time untill the picture is taken (underwhelming processor),charging it and the phone at the same time....
if u can buy a device that takes good pictures in no time with soft touch screen and lighter weight,it'll be alot less to care about...
47. yudi.nemesis (Posts: 1127; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)
the biggest problem with S4 Zoom is, thick, heavy and expensive.
with about the same amount of money i can get something like
1. Sony DSC-WX200 18.2MP Exmor R, 10x optical zoom, Sony G lens, built in WiFi, Optical SteadyShot, and only 121g.
2. Xperia V 13MP Camera, 4.3” HD Display with 342ppi, Dual krait cpu and adreno 225, water and dust resistant, 120g.
you can get many other device,
but i just want to show youthat with the same amount of money i can get 2 devices, a great compac camera and great midrange phone.
49. doubleandry (Posts: 1; Member since: 08 Oct 2013)
I was a photographer, now a videographer. I have to say that I really enjoy this cameraphone alot. first because, yes, I care about a good image quality.
the main reason I fall in love with this camphone is I can get some random candid shot when I'm not working, which mean I dont bring my photography/video gear around. Hey, if you are a photographer, it doesnt mean that you bring your camera wherever you go,so it's a good deal. alot smaller than dslr, with standart quality, after all, photography is not just about high quatily image, but timing,compositing, and many more. I can say I can get better good low res photo than average people with high end photography gadget.
again, the choice is yours....
48. chocolaking (Posts: 461; Member since: 22 May 2012)
I wouldn't recommend this device to any of my friends.
this thing is realistically not practical in any aspect.
2. KINGJUAN27 (Posts: 196; Member since: 02 Jul 2012)
Meh! Next please, we're waiting for the Lumia EOS and the Xperia Honami. Samsung, get ready!
8. Birds (Posts: 1017; Member since: 21 Nov 2011)
I'm just pissed because I don't see a big enough photo quality boost for it's price... Not to mention that who ever reviewed this took pictures of ugly ass thistles... I hate them things...they are the worst invasive species ever...damn aggressive European plants smothering GA wildlife....-_-
19. SonyXperiaNexus (Posts: 374; Member since: 01 Oct 2012)
lol, nokia lumia EOS vs samsung galaxy POS
20. haseebzahid (Posts: 1836; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)
so nokia 6310 is still better then samsung galaxy Zoom
4. RiseAgainst94 (Posts: 280; Member since: 03 Mar 2012)
Samsung has never really been a contender in the photography department. They have one really strong contender in their EXF series, so I'm surprised to see that this review was so impressed by the image quality, especially in low light situations.
6. DFranch (Posts: 140; Member since: 20 Apr 2012)
What a farce. There is no way this camera, i mean phone should score an 8. So it's uncomfortable to hold, looks stupid to make a call with, has a crappy screen and lower specs, and you give it an 8. You mention the 808 pureview, but never mention the Nokia EOS which is coming out in a week. I agree with KINGJUAN27, a 6 or 7 max.
11. PhansMuneeb (Posts: 352; Member since: 28 Jan 2012)
Some people hate Nokia, so yeah that's a fair score.
7. jackhammeR (Posts: 1548; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)
"The photos themselves are on par with a very good point-and-shoot camera, and certainly much better than the ones from your smartphone, except for the 808 PureVew. "
"In our experience with the S4 Zoom, the OIS mechanism is not as advanced as the multiaxis one on the Lumia 920/925, which indeed makes the lens appear “floating,"
Thanbk you. it would be all about samsung zoom. They took a camera, put an android in it and dare to call it a phone. yet, it cannot beat 808 which was "only" on Symbian with ancient hardware. Think what 1020 will do to this samsung crapmera.
9. hung2900 (Posts: 813; Member since: 02 Mar 2012)
Nokia 808 with the basic outdoor photos has the similar level of image quality as many DSLRs, but not other situations.
And these situations almost are what the Zoom is better
10. PhansMuneeb (Posts: 352; Member since: 28 Jan 2012)
Nokia EOS will hopefully fix that situations
13. jackhammeR (Posts: 1548; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)
let me ask you something. You do make normal, standard, mostly on automatic settings, photos or make macros all the time?
Keep in mind that EOS will use OIS and probably will be an improvement over 925 in terms of optimalization and algorithms.
Your argument is invalid. It's on par with basic dslrs in may situations, but zoom cannot even beat, according to many users (mostly andro-boys), this ancient and old-hardwared device.
14. jackhammeR (Posts: 1548; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)
The point is that when Nokia is trying to achieve something truly spectacular pursuing their own way, it's gone unnoticed whereas samsung picked up a blatant shortcut.
17. shashi.map (Posts: 30; Member since: 16 Oct 2011)
"The photos themselves are on par with a very good point-and-shoot camera, and certainly much better than the ones from your smartphone, except for the 808 PureVew".
well that summed up the review for me. nice try sammy, better luck next time
waiting for Nokia EOS and Sony Honami.
18. SonyXperiaNexus (Posts: 374; Member since: 01 Oct 2012)
lol, nokia lumia EOS vs samsung galaxy S4 POS
23. MEeee (Posts: 278; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)
Lumia EOS & Xperia Honami with full crop vs 10x optical zoom on the Galaxy Zoom, Lumia & Honami will look like sh1t. I hope you guys know what optical zoom is about.
Soon others will follow the Zoom models just like with phablets.
25. yudi.nemesis (Posts: 1127; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)
If i’m not wrong Honami will have optical zoom acessory. and maybe Eos will also have that kind of accessory.
the good thing about accessories you can take it off, so your phone doesn’t look like bulky brick.
28. jackhammeR (Posts: 1548; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)
what for EOS would be equiped with that kind of accessory? It has lossless zoom, which is limited compared to optical but let´s not forget we´re talking about a phone which basic form should remain intact. Unless new materials and tech breakthrough turn out, optical zoom won´t work in a cellphone. CELLPHONE. That´s why Nokia gave us PureView.
31. yudi.nemesis (Posts: 1127; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)
having optical zoom is a good thing just like iphone it can take good picture with some optical zoom accessory
So optical zoom accessory will be very useful for someone who really need it
26. jackhammeR (Posts: 1548; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)
given tnat zoom hasn´t shown anything new capable of surpassing the competition. Zoom in the form of optical one isn´t worth making such uncomfortable device. Better buy a small camera. In terms of photos it can´t hold a candle to 808. How many photos in zoom do you make?
I prefer Nokia´s approach. It´s fresh and innovating, perfectly suitable for cellphones.
29. jackhammeR (Posts: 1548; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)
I hope you know you´re comparing a camera with 3g connectivity with usual phones with unusual cameras?? And are you familiar with PureView tech? I assume you´re not.
Read about it.
I wonder what will you say when Nokia with pelican tech will be unveiled somewhere next year. Seeking new ways to omit the limitations of small parts inside.
I take more normal photos than with zoom. But that´s just me. Maybe you zoom in everything. If that´s the case then zoom is for you as it´s only advantage it has over 808 (and hopefully honami).
33. Galax3 (Posts: 19; Member since: 04 May 2012)
I rather have 3 MB file size zoom in photos than the huge 10 MB file size photos which I have to crop later. When you crop the photos, they will have more noise than photos taking with optical zoom.
32. krimHD (Posts: 106; Member since: 23 May 2012)
i'll like to see how TROLL will back the piece of fugly phone... Nokia EOS all the way :D
37. TROLL (banned) (Posts: 4851; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)
Let's await and see....
Kinda looks fugly.
EOS VS S4ZOOM...
34. spiderpig2894 (Posts: 438; Member since: 10 Jan 2012)
The looks on how the charger, cable, and earphones are wrapped up are looking Appleish. lol.
This phone and camera hybrid is a stupid decision! Samsung is just making hypes to maintain their popularity as number 1. Looking forward to the Sony and Nokia phones.
36. downphoenix (Posts: 2372; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)
actually this is quite thin for a camera, most cameras are closer to one inch thick, this is just a bit over half an inch.
39. piyath (Posts: 152; Member since: 23 Mar 2012)
Trolls everywhere.. I like this smartphone. It's good for photography.