The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom is comfortable to hold and operate, though it can just about fit in a jeans pocket. It could just be a lady’s ‘second best friend’ since they are likely to carry a handbag all the time. If you have used an Android Smartphone, the interface will be familiar to you. The camera screen is touch and tap enabled. All controls are quite easy to operate. The camera also has a quick launch feature, enabled by rotating the zoom ring on the lens. This provides access to various automated modes such as Macro, Landscape, and Portrait. This also enables in-call photo sharing. While in the middle of a call, if you feel like capturing a scene and sharing with the person on the other side, all you have to do is rotate the zoom ring, select a mode, capture, and share. To conclude, if you consider the S4 Zoom as a Smartphone with a better camera, you might not like the idea of carrying a bulky device around. But if you look at it mainly as a camera with a high-end smartphone, this can be a minor compromise in comfort.
The camera in the S4 Zoom performed very well in our tests. Autofocus was fast and precise, and the system locked on to the subjects with ease even under low-light. Out-of-the-box images were tack sharp. Metering modes performed as expected. Slight darkening was observed at the sides (not the corners), but you are not likely to notice it in normal everyday images. The lens produced prominent flare in strong against-the-light shots, along with purple fringing at the wide-angle end with the lens wide open. The lens produced slight barrel distortion from 60mm to 100mm equivalent focal lengths.
The S4 Zoom reproduced colours well. Auto White Balance performed very well under natural light. Though it produced slight cast under artificial light sources, these could be easily removed in post-processing. Native image size is 11.52 x 15.36 inches at 300 ppi. At 25 percent of the screen size, images were free of noise up to ISO 800. Viewed at 50 percent, slight noise was observed at ISO 800. At 100 percent of the screen size, ISO 400 showed slight noise. Very slight noise could be observed at ISO 200 if you looked for it. Overall, you can safely use up to ISO 800, and in a tight situation, even ISO 1600 if you don’t need to enlarge it much. We would consider this good noise control for a compact camera.
From a user’s point of view, the S4 Zoom qualifies as a high-end Smartphone. Though it is a notch below the Galaxy S4 in specifications, we did not find it a serious cripple. Even with multiple games open in the background, the applications operated smoothly, and never did we feel the need for a better Smartphone.
Value for Money
The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom retails at an MRP of Rs.31,990. This is awesome pricing for a Smartphone and camera married together. The Samsung India website lists the ‘Best Buy’ option as Rs.30,590,which is the price after dealer discount.
If you have been looking around for the right glue to stick your Smartphone to a compact camera, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom saves you the trouble. But if you need an unobtrusive Smartphone with a decent camera, you may look elsewhere. As an imaging device with a Smartphone, the device is a great buy.