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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Thursday June 13 2013

Here are two Samsung products.  (Click on each to get each picture bigger.) And the question is, what is the connection between these two gadgets?:

imageimage

Okay, no messing about, they are the same gadget, viewed from one side and then from the other.

Samsung has just officially announced its latest cameraphone running Android and it’s called the Galaxy S4 Zoom. It’s basically a hybrid between the Galaxy S4 mini and the Galaxy Camera, combining solid smartphone functionality with the versatility of a zoom lens and a proper flash.

An early commenter says that this thing is ugly.  But function trumps beauty.  Function creates beauty.  If a thing works, it is experienced as a thing of beauty.  To those who want exactly such a thing, this will be very beautiful. My guess is the commenter was hired by a grumblesome rival that wishes it were doing as well as Samsung is these days, but is not.

My thanks to Michael Jennings, who knows of my interest in such things, for the link.

Here we have more derision, on a pro Android site that generally gives Samsung pretty positive press.

There really is considerable hostility to this sort of product in the smartphone world. I think this is a continuation of the “People who have never used a camera other than the one in their phone don’t realise how bad that camera is compared to a proper camera” factor. The benefits of using a camera and smartphone together are big - you can edit the photo on the phone (which is really a small computer), then you can upload it directly to the internet, be it for simply storing it or sharing it on Facebook, instagram, twitter, your blog or whatever - ie you can do all the things on the spot that you have to what to get the photo to your PC for with a conventional camera. However, I don’t do this myself nearly as much as I would if the cameras on my phone (or iPad) were better. The incomprehension I get when I explain this in the smartphone and social media world is a little peculiar.

Samsung undoubtedly does get this, though, as Samsung certainly do make proper cameras. They don’t have the reputation of the top Japanese firms in cameras, but they do make lots of them, and they are certainly good cameras, if perhaps not the best in existence. So the idea that it makes sense to try starting with a camera and adding a smartphone rather than the other way round has probably occurred to their photography division, at least. Plus of course there is the traditional Samsung strategy of simply building products in every imaginable product category out there, and seeing which ones people buy.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 14 June 2013

This definitely doesn’t look like the same gadget. I can understand the idea behind it, but I doubt it will do very well on the market. I agree that function can create beauty, but when the current trend is to make everything smaller, I’m not sure how this product will be viewed in the phone/camera world.

Posted by Johnathan on 18 June 2013

From a design point of view it’s normally “form defined by function”.

In the case of the Samsung, as this has both phone and camera functions it’s hard to define how it will be seen.

I think most people who are looking for a phone will judge this product’s looks against other phones and see it as a bit bulky and not sleek enough. They like a built in camera and would not carry around a seperate camera.

The built in camera feature on most phones is “acceptable” for simple photography but is certainly not up to professional standard, particularly for work with a zoom.

So Samsung may persuade some camera users that combining a good quality camera with a phone is a space saving for them. In this niche, where people are looking to capture high quality images and share them quickly, it could do rather well. 

Will watch its sales with interest.

Posted by Jon Davies on 20 June 2013

Just about the key constraint on the quality of a camera is the physical area of the sensor. The bigger the sensor, the more photons that can hit it in a given time and the better the quality of the picture. Sensors are getting better at capturing a greater percentage of the total photons that hit the camera, other optical elements are improving in various ways, and software is getting better at processing the data received from a given number of photons, so there is gradual improvement for a given sensor size, but this hard fact still remains. (These factors do mean that cameras of a given size are getting gradually better over time, but it is a slow process).

Larger sensors require lenses with longer focal lengths to provide the same magnification for a larger sensor than they do for a smaller sensor. (Double the area of the sensor and the length must be longer by a factor of the square root of two). In addition, if you want large telephoto lenses then the focal length must be longer the more magnification you want from the lens. Camera designers have become very clever at designing telescoping zoom lenses, but this simple fact remains. The camera is going to have to be thick or the lens is going to have to stick out, at least when you are taking photographs.

This cannot be avoided. The laws of physical optics simply require it to be so. If a camera is going to be any good, it simply has to look like this, or at least to be this thick. At the present level of camera technology, it is simply not possible to put a camera as good as the one in this device in a slim phone.

As Jon says, some people carry a camera that looks like this round with them all the time, and also carry a phone. Being able to ditch the phone is a step forward for such people, particularly given that this combination allows them to share pictures much more easily than carrying the two devices separately. It’s a niche market, but a very real one, I think.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 20 June 2013

Well you sure had me fooled.  I would never have guessed that they were the same product at all.  I absolutely love the idea of a better integrated camera/phone as I don’t want to carry both around.  Problem is, I have an iPhone.

Posted by Lynne on 27 June 2013

Samsung galaxy s4 is surely an amazing device by Samsung, it has air gesture, group play, smart pause which is not yet present on other smartphones!
Great share!

Posted by Mujtaba on 01 August 2013

Camera Features are same,but i know for sure,S4 is awesome.

Posted by Tahir Raza on 03 August 2013
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