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Review: the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom – the best Android smartphone camera to date (1)

I’ve been working with the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom for a few weeks now, and this weekend I published a review on my Dutch website, Smartphone-Review.nl.  Earlier I shared a translation of my Dutch review of the Lumia 930 here, so I guess you’re interested in what I wrote about the Galaxy K Zoom as well. Everything you’ll be reading below is (freely) translated from Dutch.

A smartphone with a 20MP sensor isn’t new in itself – it’s the 10x optical zoom that makes the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom a very interesting device. So that’s the focus of this review. Probably you’re only interested in the Galaxy K Zoom if you expect the best from your smartphone. So does it give you the best results?

Of course, Samsung has produced dozens of “smartphone cameras” already. You’ll find a usable or even a very good camera in the Galaxy range – and the Symbian fans here will remember the Samsung Omnia i8910 HD with its 8MP camera as well.

Samsung’s first “connected camera” - with a 21x optical zoom - was the Galaxy Camera. It had a simcard for data only though – you couldn’t make phonecalls with it (except over Skype, but you wouldn’t find a headset in the package).

The second version was the Galaxy S4 Zoom – for sale at a bargain these days. And although that’s a real smartphone, its design reminded much more of a compact camera with a smartphone display glued to the back. With the Galaxy K Zoom, Samsung chose for a radical different approach.

Design and specifications
The Galaxy K Zoom obviously isn’t competing for the thinnest design award. It´s “functionally fat” – way too thick and heavy at first sight according to many. If that opinion will change when opening the camera depends if you’re really interested in smartphone photography or not. But anyway, it’s an absolutely remarkable achievement how Samsung managed to get a 10x optical zoom into a relatively thin designed smartphone.

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom - lens close-up

The back cover is made from the same material you’ll find on the Galaxy S5: plastic, but pleasant to hold and you won’t get any fingerprints on it. On the sides around the display you’ll see aluminium which shows more class than what Samsung thought appropriate for the fake aluminium on the Note 3 and S5.

You’ll still see the fake stuff around the camera lens however, but the real aluminium makes up for it in my opinion. You’ll find the microSD slot at the left side from the display (you won’t have to take off the back cover to swap it).

The display is the same as the one on the Galaxy S3 – 4.8 inch and 720 x 1280 pixels. It may seem pretty outdated by now, but it works fine and uses less energy. The K Zoom runs on KitKat (Android 4.4.2) with a quad-core 1.3 GHz Cortex A7 and a dual-core 1.7 GHz Cortex A15 processor.

In the Galaxy K Zoom on Android 4.4 you’ll find the same interface as on the Galaxy S5. It may not as be as fast as the Galaxy S5, but it doesn’t really have to be: the K Zoom is about photography, not about gaming for instance. I ran the well-known AnTuTu benchmark and noticed the K Zoom scoring a bit lower than the LG G2 but a bit faster than Samsung’s own Galaxy S4. That’s probably due to KitKat, but I’m not sure (not my expertise so to say).

More important seems to me its internal memory is only 8GB (why not the standard 16GB?). You can expand your storage with a microSD card, up to 64GB. That’s not the last standard (128GB), but it’s quite a lot (and cards are hot swappable if you need more). The K Zoom has 2GB of RAM by the way – same as you’ll find on most modern smartphones (including the Galaxy S5).

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom lens open

Camera
The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom is a joy to hold. It’s no “light weight” with 200 grams, but you can’t expect that with an optical zoom included. Starting the camera is pretty quick – it takes about a second before you the optical zoom has unfolded.

You can start the camera by pressing the camera button a bit longer. That only works if the device isn’t on standby anymore – makes sense, you don’t want the optical zoom to open in your pants or vest. Of course, it’s possible to open the camera application when unlocking the device with a “swipe”.

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom Xenon flash

The camera button works like a charm – it even reminds me of the 808 PureView. It has the perfect size and has the same feel in use. Press it lightly a bit longer for the device to focus – you know the drill . You use the volume button for zooming. You can also “pinch to zoom” which is way less practicle than you know from your 808 or Lumia (simply swiping your thumb up and down the display).

The K Zoom has a 20.7MP CMOS camera sensor and Xenon flash. Focal point is 24-240mm and the lens has a f/3.1 – 6.3 aperture. To compare with the best smartphones in town: the Nokia 808 PureView has a f/2.4 aperture, the Lumia 1020 even has f/2.2. The aperture on the Galaxy K Zoom is on the small side and may cause trouble in worse light conditions.

On the other hand, the Galaxy K Zoom offers an enormous amount of different settings to make the best shots in dozens of different circumstances. Moreover, you can choose to find every setting directly in the scroll menu in your screen when you push the “mode” button.

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom - Screenshot Modes English 1 Samsung Galaxy K Zoom - Screenshot Modes English 2

If you want to control just about everything yourself, choose the “manual” setting (doh). It’s easy to change shutter time, ISO or aperture.

Comparing the Galaxy K Zoom to the Lumia 1020 and Lumia 1520,  I noticed that on automatic the Galaxy Camera produces a lot lighter shot. Here’s an example from this morning, two similar shots in exact the same light conditions, first by the Galaxy K Zoom, second by the Lumia 1520.

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

Nokia Lumia 1520

This was captured with both devices on “automatic”. You’ll see the Lumia 1520 handles the light way better. On manual, it’s possible to get a much better result with the K Zoom as you can see bellow (I zoomed in with this shot and simply forgot to make one without zoom – sorry about that).

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom 2

It’s not strange to compare the Galaxy K Zoom with the Lumia 1520. It has a similar sensor and Nokia likes to promote it offers the best imaging with its PureView technology – and so far it has proven to do so as well.

Is the Galaxy K Zoom able to compete with Nokia’s PureView devices? As far as I’ve been able to compare, yes – in part. You’ve seen my earlier comparisons here at the PureViewClub. In this post I’ll show some of the examples I’ve shared earlier. Like this one, from the flowers on the purple bench.

Same distance, 10x optical zoom.

If you don’t use the zoom however, the 20.7MP sensor of the Galaxy K Zoom can’t compete with the 41MP sensors of the Nokia Lumia 1020 or Nokia 808 PureView (as I’ve shown before).

As far as details go, the shots are comparable with the 20MP sensor of the Nokia Lumia 1520 (19MP in 16:9) and 16MP in 4:3). However, the Galaxy Camera has more trouble finding the right contrast etc in your shot. It’s likely to over-expose the air in your shot for instance.

In general the K Zoom produces lighter shots using the automatic settings (see above), but that may be a good thing in darker circumstances, since you’ll see more detail .The K Zoom has the tendency to oversharpen your shot though, which can be nasty as far as details go (like in this comparison).

If you wish you can change color, intensity, sharpness and contrast in manual settings (this is the menu you’ll see when you choose “adjust image” – see below).

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom - Screenshot Colors English

However, Nokia’s PureView tech simply can’t compete with the power of the optical zoom as you have seen in this post. Nokia PureView zooms in on the sensor (there’s no “digital zoom”) so your zoom range is smaller and the resolution will diminish significantly. Using the optical zoom on the Galaxy K Zoom, you’ll keep the full 20.7MP resolution (in 4:3 that is).

I’ll share three shots from my previous post once more. This the original scene – from the Lumia 1020 – to show you to distance to a remarkable statue in Hilversum (a design icon, the Aprilia Moto 6.5, by Philippe Starck).

Next: how far can you zoom in, using the Nokia Lumia 1020?

And: how close can you get with the 10x optical zoom with the Samsung’s Galaxy K Zoom … (mind you: the Galaxy K Zoom even has 10x digital zoom as well).

It’s obvious Samsung wins this kind of competition with ease. But if you feel you don’t need any optical zoom, the sensors of Nokia’s PureView are unbeatable.

It’s a pitty Samsung didn’t push the specifications of their best smartphone camera until now a bit further: a bigger sensor for instance, and bigger pixels like on the 808 PureView, a larger aperture. Looks like there’s always something you need to wish for.

In dark circumstances, the Xenon flash performs as expected. Its effectivity depends on the distance to your subject of course. Moreover, don’t zoom in and expect the flash to perform as good – even a Xenon flash can’t “zoom in”.

The general menu settings is like you may have seen on other Samsung smartphones.

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom - Screenshot Menu English

If you choose for Manual settings however, the menu changes into this.

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom - Screenshot Modes 1 English Samsung Galaxy K Zoom - Screenshot Modes 2 English

Moreover, only on the Galaxy K Zoom (so not on other Samsung devices) you’ll find a special “Studio” application with several possibilities to “get creative” with your shots (crop, resize, etc. etc).

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom - Screenshot Studio English

Summarizing
Is the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom the best smartphone camera to date? Yes and no. Personally I feel it’s fantastic to be able to work with an optical zoom and I’d welcome it on the next “Nokia by Microsoft” Lumia smartphone (but I’m not holding my breath).

The Galaxy K Zoom is the best smartphone camera on Android, and that alone might be an important reason to prefer this device over anything else for a lot of consumers. Samsung outranks it’s own Galaxy S5 – which has a pretty good camera built-in as well – and Sony’s Xperia Z2.

The only things that may keep a lot of potential customers away is its size and weight, and its modest specifications. The Galaxy K Zoom is for those who expect the very best imaging quality from their Android smartphone.

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

A few examples
Below you’ll find a few shots I captured in the past days with the Galaxy K Zoom. Digital zoom for instance, is ideal for capturing my orange friend…

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom - Kater Pippi

What about capturing a police helicopter (10x zoom)?

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom - politiehelikopter

Close – and even sharp – enough to read its number in a crop…

Politiehelikopter crop

Here’s a close-up view of a building next to Utrecht Central Station.

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom - Bank bij Utrecht CS

The Eye Movie Institute at the IJ lake in Amsterdam.

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom - Eye aan het IJ

On the Amsterdam Amstel, from a boat – 10x zoom.

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom - Op de Amstel

Amsterdam Central Station in golden light of the setting sun (10x zoom)

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom - Amsterdam CS

And to conclude: the St. Nicolas church in Amsterdam (opposite Central Station, 10x zoom)

Nicolaaskerk bij Amsterdam CS

Sure: the noise level in this last shot isn’t perfect when you look at the original. But it’s nice to be able to get this close in the first place, in my opinion at least,

The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom isn’t for those who are satisfied with the average built-in camera – which is pretty good in general these days! – and who simply prefer a smartphone with the current state-of-the-art specs (light-weight, thin, large display, fast quadcore processor, 3GB RAM etc. etc.).

But would you like the camera on your Android smartphone to be really impressive, you’ll have no other choice than the Galaxy K Zoom at this moment. Considering the upcoming holidays, I think it’s worth your attention, although you’ll need to get acquainted with its limitations and workarounds. I do expect Samsung to come with a software update to get less bright shots when using the automatic settings.

In the Benelux, it has a suggested retail price of €499 and I wonder if it’s a coincidence that it’s the exact same price as the Nokia Lumia 930… I’m eagerly awaiting the Nokia Lumia 930 and will keep you posted with a few more comparisons with the Galaxy K Zoom.

You’ll find all new shots published in this comparison together with the shots I shared earlier, here in this dedicated album on Flickr if you want to have a detailed look.

In a next part, I’ll compare the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom with Nokia’s Lumia devices in low-light situations.

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23 Responses

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  2. […] in my review, I wrote Samsung has thought of a “night” setting, which will give you a shot that will […]

  3. PanemEtCircenses

    galaxy S5 have isocell cmos…s5 is at least double better in all condition(video&photo)…why samsung not use isocell in k zoom..?…next year k zoom 2

    • bigs

      thats a very good question, with regards to why ISOcell technology was not used in the Galaxy K?

    • Marc @PureViewClub

      Next year K Zoom 2, most likely. There always leave room for improvement, every company does.

  4. MF

    This whole article sounds like somebody just newly discovered 10x optical zooming for the very first time and being totally awed by it. I had an 18x zoom camera 4 years ago, Marc. It was plenty fun the first few months I had it, zooming at everything and anything. Then it became stale and I realize it’s not about zooming, it’s the picture quality that matters.

    • Marc @PureViewClub

      Hi MF, I had the Panasonic FZ18. I loved being able to work with zoom, but have to admit I never reallly missed it on a smartphone. This is about smartphone photography though, and this is the first smartphone with an optical zoom – although one might argue the S4 Zoom really was the first one.

      I do think I’ve mentioned the picture quality of the Lumia PureView range is generally (way) better, but as I see it there simply is no way to beat the details of an optical zoom – as I’ve shown in my previous post. I think those shots speak for themselves.

    • It was Nokia, not so long ago, that made ZOOM important: “zoom reinvented” you remember? And zoom is important. Nothing beats the combination of optical zoom with a good sensor. I am happy that Marc did all these tests and wrote this very informative post. Everybody can pull his/her own conclusions. Personally I agree with most of the conclusions of Marc.

      • Marc @PureViewClub

        Thanx Peter. Remarkable though, that Nokia appears to have trashed the whole “ZoomReinvented” concept.

      • MF

        @Peter, Marc

        Nokia actually had optical zooming way before Samsung even started making smartphones. The “Zoom Reinvented” concept is a revolutionary improvement over the traditional optical zooming concept. In fact, I would say that Nokia’s Pureview concept was intended to be totally and deliberately the exact opposite of optical zooming, with the following advantages (as explained by Damian/Juha previously):

        1. They are able to use a larger sensor for better image quality
        2. They are able to use a wider aperture for better lowlight performance
        3. Aperture will be constant when using digital zoom, whereas it usually becomes much smaller when using optical zoom.
        4. No moving parts and zooming will be silent which is good for video recording
        5. We can shoot first, reframe/crop later (i.e. zoom reinvented) which you cannot do with optical zoom.

        The whole idea is how Nokia’s Pureview zoom approach is superior to traditional optical zooming.

        Of course optical zooming is not a gimmick. It has been around for AGES. It is not even new in a cameraphone. But, I would argue that Samsung did NOT invent anything special with the K Zoom. Nothing revolutionary, nothing special, nothing innovative. The only thing they invent, is putting Android on a cheap Point-and-Shoot zoom camera. That is, in a nutshell, all there is to it.

        This is in contrast with Nokia always thinking outside the box. Of course conventional wisdom says that optical zoom is always better than digital zoom. But Nokia has shown that with their Pureview concept, a digital zoom can be pretty good.

        With Samsung doing nothing special, versus Nokia’s revolutionary new concept, this special praise of optical zooming is like putting the Pureview concept on trial. It is not a praise for Samsung as much as it is an indictment of Pureview, tantamount to saying maybe Nokia’s Pureview concept isn’t as great as it was made out to be.

        We all know there is a price to pay for optical zoom. Not only there will be additional lens involved which makes it much thicker, but also the aperture will be affected which allows less light. It will be much thicker than the K Zoom because the 41MP sensor is much bigger. If you truly understand the original Pureview concept you would appreciate the reason why Nokia did not take this route.

        Of course I am fully aware what a great Pureview stalwart that you have always been and your intentions are good. Which is why I fear that you may have inadvertently fallen for Samsung’s marketing gimmick. The gimmick is not optical zoom technology, but Samsung deliberately created a simple product (with minimal effort) that it knows the Pureview concept cannot compete directly, in order to weaken/dilute the Pureview concept.

        • Marc @PureViewClub

          Hi MF,

          I don’t think it’s of any significance Nokia had optical zooming “way before Samsung even started making smartphones”. Why would that be important? Samsung is now huge, Nokia has recently been bought – does it matter?

          I don’t think you need to explain me how revolutionary the Zoom Reinvented concept actually is. In fact, I think it’s the users of the 808 PureView – showing what they were able to do with the device – that inspired Nokia to think of Zoom Reinvented at all. Don’t think they ever expected people to be so thrilled by sharing the details of its full res shots.

          Yes, I adore how Nokia always seems to think outside the box and the results they manage to achieve with it. I couldn’t be running this club for more than two years otherwise. No, I’m not “putting the PureView concept on trial” – why would I? I’ve only shown – in several comparisons – that an optical zoom has some obvious advantages, even in a phone with lesser camera specs (sensor size, aperture, etc). Why is that so hard to accept?

          I didn’t put anything Nokia has produced so far down in any way. I have no reason to. I’ve also shown the similar (even a bit smaller) sensor of the Lumia 1520 captures a way better shot than the K Zoom (on automatic settings). All my shots are on Flickr, as you’re used to: I have nothing to hide.

          But PureView simply can’t beat the details of the optical zoom – like in cases where it’s impossible to get as close on foot (like with the motorbike, the glass rooftops, the church towers, the police helicopter, etc.). If that’s important is up to the consumer to decide. I’m just sharing what I see in the results.

          Your assumption I wouldn’t “truly understand the original PureView concept” is somewhat ludicrous however. Who are you kidding here? I’ve been doing nothing else but promoting the sheer brilliance of Nokia’s technology. I completely understand why they didn’t take the “optical zoom” route. Suggesting I don’t is… – well, you know what it is.

          Still – I’d welcome an optical zoom in a “Nokia by Microsoft” Lumia device as well. Sure, it will be much thicker. Like if I care – I’ve been hearing complaints about that since the 808 PureView was launched. But I know it’s not going to happen anyway.

          I’m not sure about your assumption that Samsung “deliberately created a simple product (with minimal effort)” – I just don’t feel that’s fair. It’s a different, maybe even old-fashioned and less innovative approach, sure. And it might not offer the best specifications camera- or smartphone-wise, but it doesn’t show “minimal effort” to me.

          This old “analogue” technique with an optical zoom is able to show me more detail than I can expect even from my best 41MP sensor, whether you like or not. I know it might not necessarily give me a better overall shot – and I’ve written that, too.

          If Samsung would have been the true copycat so many people make them out to be, they would have taken a very large sensor as well and worked their way around their own software. Like Oppo is suddenly claiming to realize 50MP shots – and too many blogs are falling for it. I´ve shown it´s not as impressive as it was made out to be.

          But you are suggesting Samsung is planning to weaken/dilute the PureView concept. Trust me: Samsung couldn’t care less about the concept. It’s not like the whole world is chanting its enthusiasm about PureView – only in places like these, people really appreciate what it´s capable of.

          And don’t get me wrong, but PureView is not just a technique, it’s marketing as well. And no-one ever blamed me for falling for it, inadvertently or not. Because it delivered what it promised: oversampling, optical image stabilization, reinventing zoom. All innovative, all good – sometimes frightfully close to perfection even. But still: it’s marketing as well.

          All Samsung did was adding an optical zoom. They didn’t even add a fancy name to it. So: what’s the marketing gimmick? You can hardly call old-fashioned technique a marketing gimmick, can you? I didn’t do anything else but showing what you may expect from it – and yes, I did call it the best Android smartphone camera to date, although it´s still waiting for improvement.

          I know it could have been better – I wrote so as well – but if I had to choose an Android smartphone with the best camera, this would be the one at the moment. I’m not sure what I overlooked in making that clear.

          Kind regards,

          Marc

          • MF

            @marc

            Of course it is highly significant that Nokia used optical zoom much earlier before Samsung. Being the pioneer of optical zoom in cameraphones, Nokia KNEW perfectly well the strengths and weaknesses of optical zoom. It is this knowledge that helped them invent the Pureview concept of digital zooming to replace optical zoom.

            There is something very important I like to point out here. Your “praise” of the K Zoom is based on shots taken at 10x zoom. The 808/1020 is only capable of 3x zoom. The argument about optical versus digital zoom is actually irrelevant here. The 808/1020 could have used 3x optical zoom lens, and still be incapable of 10x magnification. By right, the optical vs digital zoom discussion should be based on images compared at similar magnification (i.e. 3x for K).

            Another thing I’d like to point out. If you survey the market for dedicated Point-and-Shoot cameras, you will notice that many low-end cameras have small sensors (at most 1/2.5″) but long zoom (up to 12x optical). The K Zoom falls into this category.

            The medium to high-end cameras typically have large sensor with limited zoom (up to 3x), or they have small sensor but some ridiculous zoom (up to 50x optical). The 808/1020 falls into this category.

            You will notice that large sensor cameras almost always have short zoom (e.g. 3x), very seldom will have long zoom (e.g. 10x). The best example of large sensor with long zoom – Sony RX10. It has an 1″ sensor with 8.3x optical zoom. Check out the size of it. Even if Nokia miraculously succeed in reducing the thickness by HALF, that thing still won’t fit in your pocket!

            So, calls for Nokia to offer 10x optical zoom can only mean the following possibilities:
            1. Use a small sensor and do the exact same thing Samsung is doing. If you already offer mid to high-end compact camera, why downgrade to low-end?
            2. Create a super-large, non-pocketable camera (something like an RX10). It’s not even a phone, more like a dedicated camera with Windows Phone. Who knows, once the Pandora is opened, maybe Nokia/MSFT can then enter the DSLR market and compete directly with Nikon/Canon.
            3. Speed up research on graphene so everything can be wafer-thin.

            I’m sorry, but I would not want Nokia to do (1) or (2) above. Of course I am hopeful of a graphene miracle.

            • Marc @PureViewClub

              hi MF, you made your point and I completely understand what you’re saying, thanx for your contribution – I’m serious, it’s great food for thought and you clearly know a lot more about photography than I do. You live, you learn – that’s what I like about this club as well: it’s a great communitt.

              However, may I be mildly positive about the K Zoom? Even with all its drawbacks I mentioned? It’s a smartphone, it has an optical zoom, I happen to like what it does, since it still has some obvious advantages. Do you mind? Please read my next short comparison about a few simple macro shots in articial light. The K Zoom obviously isn’t my choice.

            • MF

              @marc,

              Sure, it is perfectly alright to point out good things about the K Zoom. It may very well be a decent travel camera, but from my own personal experience with a superzoom (18x optical) compact, that enthusiasm sizzled off once you realize how poor the lowlight performance is. I would suggest to put the K Zoom through some lowlight, high ISO tests which will reveal the downsides to these type of cameras.

              Let me just share with you my personal travel experience.

              I once travelled for period of 3 weeks, carrying 3 cameras with me – Sony NEX (DSLR-type sensor) with 3x optical zoom kit lens, Lumix superzoom compact (I think it was an FZ35), and my 808 Pureview. The superzoom was useful in certain situations (e.g. zooming into the sculpture of 4 US presidents at Mount Rushmore), or zooming into some wild animals at a distance. But that’s about it. Very niche use. The camera that I used most, and enjoyed most, was my 808. I used it even more than my NEX(!). Great details, great color, great sharpness. So, although there were some special situations that the superzoom was helpful, those were less than 1% of the time. 99% of the time I didn’t need the superzoom, and the 808 served me better.

            • MF

              @marc

              Also, I mentioned Samsung’s “gimmick” earlier. I guess that warranted a further explanation on my part. After Nokia launched the 41MP camera, all smartphone manufacturers (maybe except for Apple) scrambled to find ways to counter it. HTC went for that stupid (sorry for the harsh word) Ultrapixel.

              And Samsung… pulled off something very clever indeed. Instead of competing head-on with Nokia where it is likely to lose, Samsung simply ventured into a niche category (i.e. long-zoom) that Nokia is unlikely to compete.

              For those not familiar with photography, the 10x optical zoom definitely sounds nicer than Nokia’s 41MP. Look, before I got more seriously into photography, I bought the Lumix FZ (i.e. superzoom) thinking it is much better than the Lumiz LX series (i.e. large sensor). 18x optical sounds much better than 3x optical, right? As a beginner, I didn’t know anything about sensor size, aperture, etc. But 18x zoom definitely caught my eye.

              So that’s the “marketing gimmick”, but perhaps a more suitable word should have been Samsung’s clever marketing strategy to counter the Pureview. I don’t think it was a coincidence.

            • bigs

              @MF, Not sure what to say here. Both you and Marc have very valid reasons for the good and bad of the Galaxy K.

              The Galaxy K zoom, may have a budget zoom lens and even more budge small sensor, but it in terms of convenience, the Galaxy K does have it’s place. I personally do favor Android over Windows Phone, as Android has a much larger app base which in turn leads to greater possibilities like having on board DNG converters, and descent image editors.

              I think what MF would have wanted is a more gourmet camera spec in a camera phone. For instance a constant aperture f2.8 5x optical zoom lens may have been better as there would be less compromise in lens design.

              With the advent of multi aspect ratio sensor, etc, I do not see why a mobile handset camera can have a large sensor like the 808, to be paired up with a zoom lens where the whole sensor is used in the widest setting, and only crop portion to be used for optical zooming. This method would still be better than using a purely lossless zoom aka pureview, or purely optical zoom, aka Galaxy K. The hybrid method would allow for high quality wide angle shooting and allow for a slightly lower quality zoom to be used when needed.

            • MF

              @bigs

              I personally don’t think it is possible to have optical zoom without incurring major sacrifices somewhere. As it is, Nokia’s Pureview technology allowed them to have a large sensor camera with 3x zoom using only prime lens. Even so, we still have a rather noticeable hump. Adding even 3x optical zoom will most likely result in significant increase in thickness (more than just 1-2 mm, for sure) even when the barrel is fully retracted.

              If we were to have more than 3x zoom, rather than using optical lens, I would prefer Nokia to use an even larger image sensor. For example, using a 1″ BSI sensor (which is 2x larger than the 1020′s sensor), we can have an 82MP camera with 6x lossless zoom. I think this will be thinner than a 1/1.5″ sensor paired with a 2x optical zoom lens. Or an 1.2″ sensor with 123MP (allowing 9x lossless zoom). I think this may be doable, but the challenging part could be to ensure high optical quality throughout the frame for a very wide-angle lens.

              This approach would be more in the spirit of Pureview. Not copying an idea-deprived Samsung in merely adopting an old technology.

          • bigs

            @MF The idea of a 1″ sensor in a mobile handset with fixed prime does sound ideal. having such a high resolution 82MP (higher cost) sensor would require very precise and specific optic manufacturing and design (higher manufacturing costs), especially so to alleviate diffraction. Further to that, to maintain the fast f2.2 aperture or better, the lens unit would have to be larger to accommodate the larger 1″ sensor. With the latest pureview handsets all sporting optical stabilization, the whole camera have to be enlarged again to fit the extra electronics required. In the end this theorized handset may be the same size as the Galaxy K camera component or even larger! I think with all that extra development and manufacturing costs we would be looking at a smart phone that would cost in excess of $2000 USD.

            Still a great idea MF. Lets hope they can implement it!

            • MF

              You don’t need to maintain f2.2 since you are using a much larger sensor. For example the 930/1520 used f2.4 because of the larger sensor. With a 1″ sensor I think they can even have max aperture which is one stop lower.

            • bigs

              The Nokia 1020 has a larger sensor than the 1520, and it is able to sport a faster f2.2 lens.

              Going for a smaller aperture and hence smaller lens would defeat the purpose of having this much larger sensor in the first place.

              There is no reason not to have a 2.2 aperture, as with small high density pixels, the faster aperture will reduce diffraction effects, and also allow for more creative photography with narrow DOF and pleasing bokeh.

            • MF

              I was comparing the 930/1520 against the 92X cameras. Larger sensor, yet same thickness. My guess is the smaller lens (aperture f2.4) helped.

              You cannot compare the 1020 with 1520. With larger sensor paired with larger aperture, the 1020′s camera module is much thicker than the 1520/930.

              My point is that a 1020 successor (1030?) could pull off the same trick that the 920′s successor did, i.e. use a larger sensor but compensate with a smaller aperture to reduce thickness.

  5. MF

    Marc, with due respect, I strongly disagree that just because a camera has optical zoom that makes it a better camera, or using your even stronger language, “best camera”.

    I don’t think that the K Zoom is even necessarily better than the S5, which has a much bigger aperture.

    Saying that it is superior on the basis of its optical zoom is like saying that a cheap point and shoot camera with 20x zoom is better than the Sony RX1 simply because of the optical zoom. We know there’s no way the RX1 can compete at such extreme distance but yet everybody knows that the RX1 is a superior camera. I’m afraid you are falling for the marketing gimmick and doing Samsung’s work for them :(

    • Marc @PureViewClub

      Well, I think I mentioned the limitations of and the workarounds you’ll need on the Galaxy K Zoom. I mentioned I expect a camera software update for the automatic settings as well.

      Because of the zoom possibility, yes, I would prefer the K Zoom over the S5, although you’lre probably right the 16MP sensor of the S5 might do better when you’re not using the zoom functionality. Still I think the K Zoom is the best smartphone camera *on Android*.

      And you can’t put a 10x optical zoom away as a “marketing gimmick”. Funny you’re suddenly saying I’m doing Samsung’s work for them – no-one ever blamed me I’ve been doing Nokia’s work for years…!

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