First impressions: Samsung Galaxy K Zoom

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I’m pretty sold on the idea that I’m never going to buy another point and click camera again. I love to take pictures, and it’s still at the stage where it’s an enjoyable pastime for me but the point and click sits uncomfortably between the my full-blown DSLR, which I still have a lot of time and love for, and my iPhone 5S camera, which isn’t merely “good enough”, it’s often great. So with the point and click market dwindling, the inevitable first wave of camera-smartphones is upon us.

The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom, is an update of last year’s Galaxy S4 Zoom – both essential mid-range smartphones with a high-end camera attached to the back. Like all emerging categories, this appears to be a mix of fun, cutting edge features constrained by technological restrictions that have a negative effect on things like usability and design.

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Samsung tout the lens on the K Zoom as “professional grade” and whilst it does give you a range of options you wouldn’t get on a standard smartphone, don’t kid yourself that you can ditch your real camera. The lens has a focal distance of 24-240mm, the aperture goes from F3.1-6.3 and the ISO goes all the way up to 3200. The 20.7 megapixel BSI CMOS sensor should make your day to day snaps really pop, and the high ISO should help with grain free low-light images.

Of course the beauty of smartphones is the onboard processing power and there are a number of clever tricks thrown in to make it a bit more than a regular camera – and ultimately to help you to easily take better photos. You can split the focus and exposure (much like the Camera+ app) so you can get sharp, well lit images. You can also track objects, time selfies, and the camera will suggest which Instagram-like filters will suit your images.

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However, the K Zoom, whilst slimmer than it’s previous iteration, is still bulkier than what people have come to expect from a smartphone. It’s also a fairly mid-range smartphone, so you’re compromising a little on everything else to accommodate the camera – most bizarrely on screen quality which is just 720p rather than the 1080p of the S5 (which is odd for an image focused device to sacrifice colour accuracy). The processor is also a step down from Samsung’s Tier One devices, making it a cellphone of compromise.