I picked up a Sprint Epic 4g (a Samsung Galaxy S phone) on the release date at the end of August as I was due for a new phone and this seemed to be the best out there for what I need on Sprint’s network. I’ve been very satisfied with the device as a whole so far, however, since this is a photography blog, I will focus on the camera capabilities. Perhaps it is because I have extremely low expectations for cell phone cameras, but I have to say that I am thoroughly impressed with this ones 5 megapixel offering. I’m not going to go into great detail as this is more of a subjective review using some of the snap shots I’ve taken with it.
Above: The camera really shines with good lighting. When you look at 100% (click on the image), you can see some compression artifacts and maybe evidence of noise reduction. Even with that, this is a very usable image to capture the moment if you don’t have your DSLR camera with you.
Above: Another example shot taken with good lighting.
Above: This is where the camera has a little tougher time, although it will still give you a usable photo in a pinch. The flash wasn’t used, and at 1/8th of a second shutter speed, I think the biggest issue is being able to hold the camera steady and keeping the subject still. Clicking on the image to view it full size will show a fair amount of noise (not surprising for such a tiny sensor at ISO 400), but still in my acceptable range for the situation. I have noticed a couple of times that in low light it will choose a lower ISO with a slower shutter speed (ISO 200, 1/8 second) when I’d rather use ISO 400 to get 1/15 second shutter speed, but manually setting the ISO would solve this. I haven’t shot much with the flash, so I can’t say a whole lot about it, but the one time I did use it, the lighting was pretty harsh. To be fair, it was a photo of an object that was pretty close to the camera, so it may not be an accurate representation of the capabilities anyway.
The other great thing is that you actually have the ability to choose your own settings. Besides the somewhat standard generic shooting and scene modes, and flash on/off/auto, you can adjust exposure compensation (+/- 2 stops in 1/2 stop increments), focus mode (Auto focus, Macro, Face detection), Timer, Resolution, White Balance (Auto, Cloudy, Fluorescent, Daylight, Incandescent), ISO (Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800), Metering (Centre-weighted, Spot, Matrix), Image quality, and Adjust (Contrast, Saturation, Sharpness). All of these add up to a very functional cell phone camera.
Obviously this isn’t a replacement for a DSLR, but it certainly shows how far technology has come. It’s good to know that as long as I have my cell phone with me, I’ll be able to get by with something that will be decent, if not pretty good, which is so much more than I can say for any phone I’ve owned in the past.