An Android camera is ideally a point-and-shoot that uses the processing power and intelligence of a smartphone. Cameras have been intelligent for a couple of years now, providing users a host of editing and other features. They have been connected too, with Samsung coming out with Wi-Fi cameras last year. But to meld the two (except that the camera cannot be used for making calls) is an example of convergence. But does this "joint venture" actually improve your user experience?
NIKON COOLPIX S800C
Price: Rs 20,950
Specs: Android 2.3.3; 16MP 1/2.3 inch CMOS; Expeed image processor; f/3.2-5.8, 1/4000 sec shutter speed, ISO 3200; 1920x1080p/30fps; SD card; USB, HDMI, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth; 1.7GB memory.
The first Android camera to hit the Indian market, the Nikon Coolpix S800c has a solid build. In fact, it reminded us of the Nokia 808 Pureview, though it is not as slim. It looks like a point-and-shoot camera from all sides except the operative end, where it resembles an Android phone with three keys for Menu, Home and Back below the large touchscreen. This camera runs Android 2.3.3 and anyone who has used an Android phone will have no trouble using it.
But what benefits does this convergence bring? Well, to start with, you will not have to bother about what card or how much storage you have in your camera. For if the 1.7GB internal memory is not enough, you can set the camera to sync all your photos and videos to Picasa or Dropbox or any other cloud service available on Android. In fact, we started testing the device without even realising that there was no memory card in it. Connected to the Wi-Fi, the Gallery had synced to Picasa photos before we even realised it was doing so.
And then you have access to all the apps. This means, you can use this device to do anything you would with a smartphone, except for making a call. Yes, you can browse the web, watch YouTube videos and even listen to songs on Internet radio, provided you have a good Wi-Fi connection at the place you want to use this device. Clicking a photo becomes just one of the many functions of this device, for you can also edit the photos, share them on social networking sites, goof around with fun photo apps and even do a Skype chat. Just imagine all the things you can do with its wonderful 16MP camera when it is paired with the thousands of photos apps out there. But, please, limit yourself to photo apps and don't start playing Angry Birds on the device.
The camera itself is quite good. Along with the 16MP CMOS sensor it has a Nikkor lens with 10x zoom. The results are what you would expect with a decent point-and-shoot and there is the added advantage of its being able to click a picture by just touching the 3.5-inch OLED screen. The auto focus is very fast, though the zoom is a bit too loud. However, there are not many tweaks you can do on the camera itself, except for the modes and some special effects. The camera has no full manual mode either. But then that is where the Android OS and its Google Play Store will come in handy.
SAMSUNG GALAXY CAMERA
Price: Rs 30,900
Specs: 16MP BSI-CMOS sensor; Android 4.1; 1.4GHz quad-core processor; f/2.8, 1/2000 sec shutter speed; ISO 3200; Full HD 1920x1080p /30fps; micro SD card, HDMI, USB, 3G, Wi-Fi, Allshare, Bluetooth; GPS; 8GB internal memory.
A smartphone that clicks good pictures instead of making calls - that is the Samsung Galaxy Camera in a nutshell. With an Android operating system, this camera lets you edit the pictures that you have shot using a host of internal apps as well as those you can download from the Google Play store. It also lets you share the pictures instantaneously. To facilitate sharing, the camera has a SIM card slot along with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
The Galaxy Camera is different from regular point-andshoots in more ways than one. For instance, it has an amazing 4.7-inch super clear touch display, the likes of which you have not seen in cameras before. Of course, you have the Android OS. But then Nikon has one too. But what Nikon doesn't have is the SIM card slot, which makes this one a connected camera wherever you are, not just in your home or living room.
The camera in this device is akin to a mid-level pointand-shoot, with a number of settings and modes, which in this case are accessed and controlled using the very responsive touchscreen. You can also use voice to control the camera, but we were not very successful with that. But then that is a function you will seldom use in real life. The camera interface when you are using the expert mode is very easy to use and one of the best we have seen so far. The results are good, especially when viewed on the vivid camera display. But blow the picture up and you will see that the details are not so great-at least, not what you would expect from a 16MP camera.
Still, this camera isn't meant to click pictures that you would later use on a hoarding. It's meant to take pictures that you would want to upload to Facebook or Instagram promptly. In this, there is no beating this Galaxy. There are many who would love to own a camera that completely eliminates the save-to-PC, edit, send process. But so what, you might counter, you can do the same in a top-end smartphone? That is where the 21x zoom comes into play. There is no camera which can do that at the moment.
There is the entire Android app ecosystem to play around with too. And you can download apps wherever you are, save files to Dropbox as you click and also have the rest of your Picasa and Facebook photos on the device in case you need to check them. The Cortex-A9 quad core processor on the camera is good enough even for video editing. We created a one-minute clip, compressed and mailed it in five minutes. Well, that is where this camera is going to score above the others.
SO, WHICH IS THE BETTER BET?
The S800c definitely has quality optics though it lacks the zoom and even basic settings that the Galaxy Camera gives the user. While the Samsung camera is much easier to use and has loads of settings, the S800c produces a more satisfying final picture. However, the Galaxy Camera is the better overall device: it has a newer version of Android and is more useful with a SIM slot that helps it stay online all the time.