Social-media junkies will love this phone
SAMSUNG'S Galaxy S4 zoom is the ultimate double agent. From the front, it looks like another point-and-shoot digital compact camera.
From the back, it looks like another Galaxy smartphone. The power button, volume controls and a dedicated shutter-release button are on the right side.
On the left is a tripod hole and a microSD-card slot. The 3.5mm headphone jack sits on top while the micro-USB port is located at the bottom. Surrounding the port is a big plastic flap that covers the entire bottom and protects the battery compartment and micro-SIM slot.
The plastic grip allows you to hold the camera more easily than you would a smartphone, but there is room only for my right index finger and middle finger. Your left hand is meant to grip the zoom ring to stabilise the camera and operate the zoom.
It takes 29sec to power up the S4 zoom because of the Android OS. But if the display is unlocked, you can access the camera app in 1sec by pressing the shutter release.
Auto-focusing (AF) takes no more than half a second to lock onto a focus in good lighting. In dimmer light, it takes from 1.5sec to 3sec to get a sharp focus. Shutter lag is around half a second.
Image quality is about the same as in many flagship smartphones. Auto white balance is spot-on in most lighting conditions. But image-noise performance is not as good as in digital compact cameras. Noise artefacts are visible at ISO 400.
Video quality is sharp, but the camera does pick up a big chunk of the lens' AF and zooming sounds. Ambient and wind audio, though, is kept at a minimum.
Battery life is amazing at around 600 images (without flash) on a single charge, if you do not use any smartphone functions. But real-life battery life may differ considerably with usage, especially if you cannot resist posting every picture you take on Instagram or Facebook.
For social-media junkies, the Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom with LTE is heaven-sent with its 10x optical zoom lens. Otherwise, you can probably get a better camera for the same price.