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If you had a 16 megapixel digital camera, with a 10x optical zoom lens, plus a Samsung Galaxy smartphone running one of the latest versions of Android, and put them in some kind of magical blender, then you might find the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom pops out. It's the only smartphone with a true optical zoom lens. The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom is available from Phones4u.
The digital camera features a 16 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor, 10x optical zoom lens equivalent to 24-240mm in 35mm terms, and has optical image stabilisation, full HD video recording, built in flash, focus assist lamp, as well as manual controls.
On the rear is a bright 4.3inch touch screen, and the smartphone part running the latest version of Android. It features a large 2330 mAh battery, microSIM slot, 8GB of built in memory, and a microSD slot for memory expansion.
Combining a smartphone and a digital camera with 10x optical zoom lens means you can easily and quickly share your photos to social network sites such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc, through Wi-Fi or your mobile phone network, as well as edit photos, GPS tag them, or even transfer them to other devices using NFC.
- 16 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor
- 10x optical zoom lens, 24-240mm equivalent
- Optical image stabilisation
- 4.3inch touch-screen
- GPS / Wi-Fi / NFC
- FullHD video
- ISO100 to ISO3200
- Manual controls
- HDR / Panoramic shooting
- Available in white or black
Handling - While the camera does have a shaped grip, to aid grip, the white body of the camera is extremely smooth making it quite slippery in the hand. The metal ring surrounding the lens can be used to control the zoom, as well as select a photo mode when using the smartphone in Android. It's quite easy to accidentally cover the flash when holding the camera.
On the bottom is a metal tripod socket, as well as a plastic cover to keep dust out of it, if you don't plan on using it. However, you may want a small tripod, as the camera does not stand up by itself, making it difficult to shoot using the self-timer.
There is a wrist strap loop much like other smartphones feature, which could be used for a wrist strap or charm, and you'll also find earphones in the box, as well as a lens cloth. The front of the lens has a protective element in front of the closing lens cover to stop dust and dirt getting into the lens, as well as to stop anything from fouling the lens cover mechanism.
Menus – After unlocking the phone, you can either press the camera app, or hold the shutter release button to get into the camera mode, there is also a setting to set the camera to automatically start when you first switch the phone on if you want. For anyone who has used an Android smartphone before the device will be easy to use, and the camera mode has a number of modes, including Auto, scene selection, program, as well as manual and custom modes. In manual mode you are able to set the shutter and aperture speeds. You can touch the screen to choose the focus points, as well as shoot using the on screen photo button. It's also possible to control the zoom using on screen buttons, and the touch-screen is very responsive in use.
Battery life - The camera has a removable 2330mAh lithium-ion battery. Charging is performed using the MicroUSB socket, and a wall socket to USB charger is provided.
Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.
|Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom|
|Wide - Focus / Shutter Response||0.275s|
|Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response||0.325s|
|Switch on Time to Taking a Photo - from locked||3.7s|
|Switch on Time to Taking a Photo - from off||37.0s|
|Shot to Shot without Flash||1.6s|
|Shot to Shot with Flash||1.8s|
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
|4fps (20 shots)|
|Continuous Shooting - Flash||N/A|
Shutter response is good, with reasonably quick focus speeds. Continuous shooting is quite good at 4fps, with the camera taking up to 20 shots.
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Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Sample Photos
Macro | 1/160 sec | f/16.4 | 20.3 mm | ISO 100
Zoom | 1/250 sec | f/6.3 | 30.8 mm | ISO 100
Hall | 1/1250 sec | f/3.7 | 7.5 mm | ISO 100
Flash Portrait | 1/30 sec | f/4.9 | 13.9 mm | ISO 250
Drive | sec
Richtone(HDR) | sec
Sample Photos - Dynamic range can be expanded using either the auto contrast setting (at the expense of contrast), or using the HDR mode. This takes a number of shots and does a good job in expanding dynamic range. Exposure is reliable and colour reproduction is good with bright saturated colour. Flash performance is good with very little red-eye visible.
Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Lens test images
Wide | 1/800 sec | f/3.1 | 4.3 mm | ISO 100
Mid Zoom | 1/100 sec | f/16.4 | 20.3 mm | ISO 100
Full Zoom | 1/80 sec | f/17.8 | 30.8 mm | ISO 100
Macro | 1/8 sec | f/3.1 | 4.3 mm | ISO 100
Lens Performance - The lens is quite resistant to flare even though it does have a front lens element, and there is minimal barrel or pincushion distortion. Macro focus can be selected in program modes or as one of the smart scene modes. Corner softness at the wide end of the lens, as well as when using the full optical zoom. Some purple fringing and chromatic aberration in images, although not too worrying.
Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom ISO test images
1/5 sec | f/5.4 | 16.5 mm | ISO 100
1/10 sec | f/5.4 | 16.5 mm | ISO 200
1/20 sec | f/5.4 | 16.5 mm | ISO 400
1/40 sec | f/5.4 | 16.5 mm | ISO 800
1/80 sec | f/5.4 | 16.5 mm | ISO 1600
1/160 sec | f/5.4 | 16.5 mm | ISO 3200
ISO Noise Performance - ISO is reasonable at ISO100, and increases slightly at ISO200, although some is visible in outdoor shots even at these low settings. Detail is good right up to ISO400. At ISO800 noise becomes stronger and detail begins to deteriorate, but results still appear reasonable. Results are reasonable at ISO1600, although noise does increase as expected with detail reduced. At ISO3200 noise is strong, however colour reproduction is still good, and results may still be good if resized.
Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom White-balance test images
AWB Tungsten | 1/13 sec | f/3.9 | 9.2 mm | ISO 100
WB Tungsten | 1/13 sec | f/3.9 | 9.2 mm | ISO 100
AWB Fluorescent | 1/4 sec | f/3.9 | 9.2 mm | ISO 100
WB Fluorescent | 1/4 sec | f/3.9 | 9.2 mm | ISO 100
White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) performs well under tungsten light, with the tungsten preset giving a warmer colour cast to the image. AWB performs well under fluorescent lighting, with the fluorescent presets both giving a colour cast.
Panorama mode - The panoramic mode does a reasonable job of putting together the photos automatically as you pan the camera from one side to another, however the resolution and detail is low, and there are some stitching issues.
Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Digital filters
Normal | 1/1250 sec | f/3.1 | 4.3 mm | ISO 100
Cartoon | sec
Faded | sec
Fisheye | sec
Greyscale | sec
Moody | sec
Oil Pastel | sec
Ruggged | sec
Sepia | sec
Turquoise | sec
Vignette | sec
Vintage | sec
Auto Contrast | 1/1250 sec | f/3.1 | 4.3 mm | ISO 100
Digital Filters - The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom has a number of effects available when shooting, we've shown examples of these above.
Video - The camera records full HD video. You can use the lens ring to zoom during video recording, or buttons on the screen, using the later gives smoother results when zooming. Quality is quite good, with the optical image stabilisation helping to keep the video steady.
Value For MoneyThe Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom is available for £430 sim free, or as part of a mobile phone contract. The only other cameras running Android are the Nikon Coolpix S800c (£209), as well as the Samsung Galaxy Camera (£349), which do not feature phone capability.
For other smartphones with an emphasis on the camera quality, you could have a look at the Nokia Lumia 1020 (41 megapixel, with lossless zoom), expected price £549, Samsung Galaxy S4 (13 megapixel) at £445, iPhone 5 (8 megapixels) at £510, HTC One UltraPixel (4 megapixels) at £425, Nokia Lumia 925 (8.7 megapixels) at £452, and Sony Experia Z (13 megapixels) at £405.
You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.
Samsung WB30F or similar 10x optical zoom camera that would be smaller than this, letting you buy a Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini for £200, or a Galaxy S4 Mini for £325 if you didn't mind having a separate phone and camera. You can also get the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom free as part of a contract, and for those that don't mind the bulk and weight of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom this could be a good option, particularly if you just want to carry around one device.
As with most smartphones, you'll need to charge the camera daily, and you should get 24 hours use from it depending how much you use it and whether you are shooting with GPS and flash switched on. With a real Xenon flash, and optical zoom, for most people who want better photos from their smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom will deliver impressive results, most likely better than any smartphone with just an LED flash. However, for photographers who's priority is image quality, then a dedicated camera will give better results.
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Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Pros10x optical zoom lens
Optical image stabilisation
4fps continuous shooting
Good HDR mode
Bright 4.3inch screen
Tripod socket built in
Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom ConsQuite bulky / protruding lens
Little grip / very slippery
Doesn't stand up by itself
Noise in images
EXIF information not stored with all images
|VALUE FOR MONEY|
Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom Specifications
|Max Aperture||f/3.1 - f/6.3|
|Lens Range||4.3mm - 43mm|
|35mm equivalent||24mm - 240mm|
|CCD pixels||16Mp (Megapixels)|
|Sensor Size||No Data|
|Sensor Size (width)||No Data|
|Sensor Size (height)||No Data|
|Screen resolution||540 x 960 (qHD)|
|Shutter speeds shortest||1/2000sec|
|Shutter speeds longest||16sec|
|ISO sensitivity||100 - 3200|
|Stereo Sound||No Data|
|Battery Type||2330mAh Lithium-Ion|
|Box Contents||Camera, Lens Cloth, Earphones, Quick start guide, USB cable, USB AC Adapter|