Samsung Galaxy K Zoom, analysis
Samsung is not afraid to show muscle. Despite having a branch of compact and mirrorless cameras very close in software to those of a smartphone, and at the same time one of the best terminals for photography - the Samsung Galaxy S5 -, the I push to invest again in convincing the consumer that there is room for a full-fledged hybrid.
Of the approaches to have the best mobile-photography convergence, the idea of the Galaxy S4 Zoom last year and this 2014 the Galaxy K Zoom, seems the most sensible on paper. Running it the right way is not so much anymore. And certainly with this year's model there has been a very notable improvement in both the photographic and smartphone sections. Has it been enough to convince us that the mobile phone with optical zoom is an option for anyone who wants to invest in a mobile photographic terminal?
Samsung Galaxy K Zoom, technical specifications
Here we leave you with the main technical characteristics of the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom:
If we focus on photographic performance, this is what we must abide by:
Video analysis of the Galaxy K Zoom
If you want to get a closer look at how it is and the general and photographic operation of the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom, you can start with our video analysis:
As a smartphone, this is the Galaxy K Zoom
A merit that we have to give Samsung with this K Zoom is the improvement it has made in design compared to the S4 Zoom. Last year's model was a hybrid at a very early stage, still looking like a camera first and foremost, including a grip that now completely disappears on the K Zoom. At the level of thickness and weight there are no excessive differences, but in hand it has won a lot.
On the left, the new K Zoom, much closer to a smartphone than the S4 Zoom
The K Zoom could almost pass, in quotes, of course, like a smartphone that something comes out when we turn it on. That extra is the 10x zoom that no other smartphone on the market will have right now.The Galaxy K Zoom is still heavy and thick compared to a current smartphone, but it no longer looks like a camera but a much more comfortable smartphone in hand
To further emphasize the fact that this K Zoom is closer to the smartphone world than to the compact camera, always speaking from the point of view of design, Samsung has placed a case with a textured finish and imitating the skin, as already It has in the Note range and the Galaxy S5, from which on the front it can hardly be distinguished.
The curved shapes that collect the entire back cover make that, when we use it as a smartphone, this Galaxy K Zoom is comfortable, although the optical zoom is still quite handy. It is also obviously noticeable when we place it on the table with the screen facing up.
The K Zoom is not exactly comfortable placed with the screen facing up on a table
The controls of the K Zoom include a dedicated button for the camera, and a preferred location for the microSD memory card, vital since the internal memory is only 8 GB, a capacity that, with photos and video, we will not take long to occupy. It is essential to get a model with a good capacity to always wear it.
The general performance of the Galaxy K Zoom as a smartphone is in the league of the upper-middle range, with fluidity in all sections but without allowing itself to boast. The improvement is brutal over the S4 Zoom, especially if the screen comes into play.
From the front it is difficult to differentiate the K Zoom (left) from the Galaxy S5 (right)
Samsung has enlarged it to 4.8 inches, maintains the SuperAMOLED panel and gives it a resolution of 720p. Now it is a screen that due to size and tactile response we can use without problems. But in resolution it shows that it cannot compete with a high range. Despite everything, the screen is perfectly valid with its 300 dpi to check how well the photos have come out, and even for use as a smartphone, although outdoor viewing is not a point where it stands out and here also the high-end of this year they take advantage.Although it remains in 720p resolution, the screen of the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom is now worthy of a smartphone, not like the S4 Zoom
But for me, the most critical point of this Galaxy K Zoom is the battery. With its 720p screen and power, the 2,430 mAh of its removable battery would give a day of even intense use to complete without problems, but this has not been the case.The space necessary to place the 10x zoom has caused the battery to be relegated in importance inside this Galaxy K Zoom, which means that, if you are really going to use this terminal to take photos, it is essential to have at least a spare battery or an externally charged one.
Using the camera more or less intensely, half a day is a challenge that this Galaxy k Zoom will not always be able to meet. Bad news if Samsung wants us to take it on a trip as the main camera, no matter how much zoom it offers us.
Performance and function as a photo camera
I do not think there is anyone who, knowing what this Galaxy K Zoom is like, selects it from a showcase for their smartphone work. Neither price nor performance makes sense. Could you do it on its merits as a photo camera? That is already more feasible.
The photographic base of the Galaxy K Zoom is made up of a 20 megapixel sensor whose size is 1 / 2.3 inches. This means that it is the same size that we find for example in the Xperia Z2 but smaller than that of the Lumia 1020. And it is exactly the usual combination in compact low-medium profile cameras. Therefore, at the image quality level it will be very solvent on paper.
The difference and clear advantage that brings smartphones out of the market is the 10x zoom, optical type. It is more or less also the range in which the compacts with which in theory compete in the market move. Therein lies the key for us: the Galaxy K Zoom should really be thinking about convincing whoever is going to buy a basic compact more than who wants a new smartphone.
At the level of image quality, the Galaxy K Zoom is not surprising but that does not mean that its quality has disappointed us. Not much less. It meets what is expected of a sensor like the one included, and there are hardly any differences with the snapshots that we can get with current high-end smartphones.
While the S4 Zoom did make a difference in its favor last year compared to most even high-end smartphones, this year, the photographic enhancements of pure phones have balanced and even brought the difference to their terrain.
In fact, if it did not have that optical zoom, it would be illogical to bet on it compared to any other high-end smartphone on the market. It is scenes where to demonstrate good work in the dynamic range or at night, the differences are not substantial, neither for nor against. The sensor in these cases is the key, and here the K Zoom does not mark territory to differentiate itself, but in general quality.
The K Zoom has its great advantage in optical zoom. If we don't need it, better opt for a high-end smartphone
The difference must therefore be found in the zoom. There it has no competition in the smartphone segment. When we resort to optical zoom, with a maximum of 10x, there is no way to obtain the same level of detail with cuts as with the K Zoom or by chance. By opening the zoom to the maximum, we already found a partial reduction in quality and detail, which does not give us the same result as when we shot from the base with its 24mm angle.
If the light conditions are adequate, the use of digital zoom that would go up to 20X is feasible. In the snapshot below, we see first the image without zoom, with 10x zoom and finally with the maximum digital range.
A limitation that has been removed with respect to the S4 Zoom is that, in automatic mode, it could not go beyond IOS 400. In the K Zoom there is no problem, but although the behavior at the noise level has been improved, this is already Visible and also, so that it is not appreciated much, the system tries to reduce it with the consequent collateral damages: loss of detail. Right with "native" smartphones. In the image below it must be admitted that the scene was really difficult to solve due to the low light available.
Also keep in mind that, to achieve the maximum resolution of the sensor, 20.7 megapixels, you have to choose the 4: 3 format, because by default it will seek to give us the native 16: 9 of the screen with a resolution of 15 megapixels.
By the way, although the logical thing is that this Galaxy K Zoom would allow us to directly access the camera function by holding down the included physical firing button, it is not so, and in addition to that button, we must press the volume button (above) to access the camera from the locked terminal. Yes we go to the camera screen directly by pressing the shutter button when we are on the desktop or another application.
The interface with which the Galaxy K Zoom works in photographic mode is identical to the one we have in Samsung terminals. We would have liked, given the role of the camera in this terminal, a deeper customization by Samsung that put in value the large number of options available. There is no RAW mode yet, something that would have given it a good differentiation compared to classic smartphones, but there are quite a few control options, such as focus (area or macro mode), metering or white balance. These options are welcome to all Samsung devices, which are missing. Very positive point here for the K Zoom.
There is also an almost total manual mode, but we can only play with two apertures, which are different depending on the focal point we are working on. With the zoom fully closed it gives us the options of f3.1 and f.9.
Precisely in the opening is where the camera of this K Zoom is at a disadvantage compared to the best smartphones of this year, almost all with f2.0. The ISO of the K Zoom can reach 3200 ISO.
What there are options to bore is modes. Even too many, because it is difficult to decide when to use each one or change them when we want to take photos in a slightly more serious way.
The video mode, which does not opt for media UHD recording, complies with 1080p but with the possibility of using 60 fps. We liked the result a lot, the zoom is appreciated but sometimes, again, stabilization is not enough if light is scarce or we are not very stable.
The K Zoom gets serious photographically but only at zoom. Otherwise it does not offer anything that we do not have in a current high-end smartphone. Even the Lumia 1020, saving the maddening speed of operation compared to that of the K Zoom, gives much more play in our opinion so it seems to us that, since it had to make sacrifice in dimensions and performance compared to a high-end, Samsung would have than to have opted for a sensor of greater size that was, combined with the 10X zoom, an irresistible temptation for those who aspire to take photography on a mobile very seriously.
See complete gallery »Galaxy K Zoom example (11 photos)
Xataka's note and opinion for the Galaxy K Zoom
Are you willing to carry a second smartphone, in this heavy and bulky case, to take photos? A few years ago it would make sense. Today, if you use a high-end one, it is not like that anymore. With one exception: you need an optical zoom. In that case you will have to assess whether the investment, around 400 euros, you want to make on another smartphone or you choose to complement your current model with a compact one that, at the photographic level, will give you the same result.That the Galaxy K Zoom has a very defined type user should not hide that we are dealing with a complete smartphone with a camera that, above all, makes a difference due to the optical zoom
That said, you should not remove one iota of Samsung's achievements with this K Zoom. The leap in quality at the smartphone and even photographic level compared to last year's model is more than considerable, although still with some gap.
For me, during the test, it has undoubtedly been that of the battery, which is not up to a model that we are going to use intensively, and whose motor for the zoom or the screen itself, is a well without bottom that swallows the mAH that we throw at it.
And above all, this Galaxy K Zoom is still a niche terminal, with a very specific potential user as well as a worthy and interesting test bench from Samsung to, someday, manage to place an optical zoom feasibly on a smartphone and that this is not our second terminal.
7,7Design6.5 screen Performance8 Camera9.25 Software8.5 Autonomy7
- Optical zoom unmatched in the segment
- Fast and compliant camera
- Much improved use as a smartphone
- Upgradeable camera interface
- Autonomy for a terminal that demands intensive use
- Still something thick and heavy
The phone has been loaned for testing by Samsung. Can inquire our policy of relationships with enterprises