When AT&T first loaned me this device for review, I’ll be honest. I thought it was a wifi/bluetooth camera that would sync with my phone. Then I turned it on and realized, OH! This thing IS a smartphone!
Immediate thoughts were, “Oh no, that’s way too big and bulky. And with such a camera? Must be too fragile to keep in my pocket.” Having played with it for the past two months though, it’s a very sturdy phone and the 16mp extended camera with 10x optical zoom offers a few benefits I didn’t realize at first.
To begin with, the camera serves as an extra protrusion to rest the phone against your palm. It adds additional support to press against, especially handy with one-handed functionality.
Next, you’ll notice that if you place the S4 Zoom on a flat surface, the camera acts as a built-in stand. And maybe this is something minor, but isn’t it the little things that most touch our hearts? Since there is a huge camera on the device, the S4 Zoom has a little divot on the bottom-left corner; most likely for a lanyard loop in securing a camera.
However, this also means that you can attach a charm to it. (Or maybe a frog glass-cleaner/stuffed toy.) Sure, the S4 Zoom may be a bit thicker but she fits in your pocket just fine as compared to some of the bigger “phablets” on the market these days.
How does it compare to the Nokia Lumia 1020 though? (Candidly, I’ve been quite a fan of Nokia phones and have fond memories of the Symbian OS) I have to say that the 41mp camera is quite impressive on the Lumia 1020 but when will you ever really need to go all the way to 41mp?
It also takes a few seconds to process at that size, making it difficult to take a series of action shots with such a high quality. The S4 Zoom may only offer 16mp but actually looks, feels and even operates like a real camera in your hand. Indeed, there is a metal ring in front that you can simply twist to zoom in and out easily.
Lastly, the Lumia 1020 is Windows Phone 8 and the S4 Zoom is running Android 4.2 Jellybean. Ready to make the switch and check out Microsoft’s solution for keeping all of your contacts in one place with Windows Phone 8? Or happily married and dependently integrated with Google products on Android?
For those who aren’t expert photographers and skilled at setting aperture, shutter speed or ISO; the S4 Zoom offers a number of preset Smart Mode suggestions for the S4 Zoom camera. These come in quite handy for amateurs that still want to capture images like the pros.
-Expert mode: Manually adjust picture settings
-Kids shot: Play interesting sounds to attract your child’s attention for a picture-perfect moment
-Continuous shots: Press and hold the shutter button to take up to 20 continuous shots at a rate of 4 per second
– Landscape: Take stunning outdoor pictures of vibrant green and blue
– Dawn: Create compelling pictures of light trails using long exposure at night
-Snow: Capture the intensive brightness of snow with adjusted white balance
-Macro: Take pictures of objects or text up close
-Food: Take pictures of food that capture their rich, vivid colors and texture -Party/Indoor: Take sharper pictures of parties and indoor activities without blurring
-Waterfall: Take dynamic pictures of waterfalls and flowing water using long exposure
-Silhouette: Use backlighting to take dramatic silhouette pictures
-Sunset: Capture sunsets with intense color and contrast
-Fireworks: Capture full stunning moments of fireworks using long exposure at night
-Light trace: Create compelling pictures of light trace using long exposure at night
What does 10x optical zoom really look though? Judge for yourself. Here’s a landscape picture taken from quite a distance:
…and here’s what you see when you extend the lens all the way to 10x zoom:
Nice house, right? Wow, you can really get in pretty close. But what if you take that same picture and magnify it even further digitally? Perhaps there’s a bit of quality loss but look closely and you’ll recognize that it’s Gisele Bundchen.
Eat your heart out, paparazzi. The Samsung S4 zoom gives new meaning to the term, “citizen journalism.”