The Sprint Epic 4G version of the Samsung Galaxy S launched on August 31st. In testing so far of this touchscreen Android phone my summary is very much positive. It is a productive and fun device to use. Beautiful Super AMOLED screen, intuitive user interface, fast processor, qwerty keyboard, 4G the list goes on; however, this is not a full review of the device. I’d like to concentrate on a review of the camera application for taking both photos and video. This is the native camera app and I think you’ll see it has many features and options, in line with most modern point-and-shoot cameras. In future posts I will also be reviewing other Android camera apps, such as Vignette. So let’s get started.
The Epic 4G has a 5-megapixel auto-focus camera on the back with 3x zoom and an auto-firing LED flash. The Epic 4G also uniquely has a front-facing camera which I’ll be touching on in future reviews of video chat apps such as QIK.
(Note: some screenshots contain remants of the previous screen, such as icons. That is just a bad side effect of the screen capture app.)
The screenshot above shows the main camera display after launching the app. The camera will auto-focus anywhere that you touch in the scene. Auto-exposure is also occuring which you can see by moving the camera between dark areas and light areas. The upper left of the screen shows the megapixel setting (size and quality) as well as the metering mode. Battery level and shots left on the memory card are shown at the top right.
The tab with an arrow on it allows the options overlay to be displayed or hidden. Starting upper left and moving down the options overlay screen includes Shooting Mode, Flash settings, Exposure setting, Camera Settings (gear icon, see more below), Photo/Video toggle, Shutter, and Playback.
To take a shot there is an onscreen shutter button or on the Epic there is also a dedicated camera button at top of the device when holding it in landscape mode - just like a point-and-shoot.
The first page of shooting modes includes the default Single shot, and also:
- Beauty - softer, no touch, auto-focus at full resolution. Also turns on Face Detection.
- Continuous - up to 9 shot burst. Each shot is in 640x480 resolution.
- Self shot - turns on the front-facing camera, 640x480.
- Smile shot - will detect smiles.
- Panorama - up to 8 shots using pan focus in 640x480 resolution. For panoramas, this resolution works fine as seen in the example panorama shot from the Epic 4G below.
Here’s an example of a panorama shot from the Epic 4G:
Page 2 of the Shooting modes:
- Vintage - full resolution, aged look
- Action Shot - this is really cool mode. Action Shot frames the photo much like a panorama, but uses auto-focus to capture the moving subject. It takes up to 9 shots at 640x480 resolution each and stitches them together.
- Add me
You can pull up the camera settings by either dragging out the arrow tab at the left of the display and selecting the gears icon or by pressing the menu soft button. The Sprint Epic 4G is feature rich - there are 5 pages of options under Camera settings! The first one shown above allows you to toggle Outdoor Visibility, choose Focus mode, and choose Scene modes.
Outdoor visibility simply adjusts the display for easier viewing while shooting outside.
- Auto focus
- Face detection
Here is a sample of Macro mode:
There are 13 different Scene Modes as shown below. I’m not going into detail on these scene modes as they are self-explanatory, work as indicated and similar to the scene functions available on many point and shoot cameras.
Back to Camera Settings, page 2:
The Timer options include 2sec, 5sec, and 10sec.
- 5M 2560x1920
- 4M Wide 2560x1536
- 3.2M 2048x1536
- 2.4M Wide 2048x1232
- 2M 1600x1200
- 1.5M Wide 1600x960
- 0.3M 640x480
- 0.4M Wide 800x480
White Balance includes Auto White Balance, Daylight, Cloudy, Incandescent, and Fluorescent.
On page 3 of the camera settings are Effects, ISO, and metering.
Effects include Normal, Negative, Black & White, and Sepia.
The ISO range values are Auto, ISO100, ISO200, ISO400, and ISO800.
The camera can be set for 3 metering modes: Center-weighted which is the default, Spot, and Matrix. Just like my DSLR!
Page 4 offers toggles for Anti-Shake, Auto contrast, and Blink detection. Anti-shake attempts to prevent blurriness due to camera shake. Auto contrast compensates for backlight conditions, and Blink detection warns you of possible subject blinking before pressing the shutter.
And on page 5, the Image quality can be set with options for Superfine, Fine, and Normal. Under the Adjust option we can manually set the Contrast, Saturation, and Sharpness using sliders and values ranging from -2 to +2.
Also under the Camera Settings (gear icon on the main display) is another tab for Recording options (wrench icon). Here, is a toggle for Guidelines on the viewfinder display, Review options of Off, 2 seconds, and On. And a GPS toggle which will record the GPS coordinates into the photo file.
On the second page is the option to disable the shutter sounds or choose from Sound 1, 2, or 3. The Reset option will reset all settings back to the defaults.
When toggling to the video camera you are presented with two Recording modes. Normal, uses full resolution and file size is limited only by the size of the memory card. Limit for MMS limits file size based on fitting the video into the video limitation set for MMS text messages, which is generally 50 seconds. In my infrequent use of this setting it appears resolution and quality is reduced as well. I always use Normal mode and then either email the video or copy it over to my computer later. If you’re into live video sharing, Qik is a good option as well.
The current video resolution is shown in the upper left of the display and time remaining based on the memory card is shown upper right. A nice feature of the shutter is that after starting your recording you can then pause it rather than saving the final output. Great for on-the-fly editing of unwanted scenes. There’s also a Stop button when you are reading to save the final video recording.
The video display also includes the Options overlay, including the gear icon for Video settings.
The first page of Video Settings has options for the Timer and Resolution. The Timer options include 2sec, 5sec, and 10sec. Video files are recorded and saved in 3GP format.
- 1280x720 (720p HD)
White Balance includes Auto White Balance, Daylight, Cloudy, Incandescent, and Fluorescent. Effects include Normal, Negative, Black & White, and Sepia. Video quality offers Superfine, Fine, and Normal.
The third page of Video Settings has the Adjust option with sliders for Contrast, Saturation, and Sharpness.
The Video recording options (wrench icon) include toggles for Guidelines, Audio Recording, and Review. The second page of Video options is the Reset button.
Sample video, 1280x720p HD:
Download now or watch video-2010-09-08-12-11-54.3gp (45974 KB)
As you can see, the camera features are impressive. The Sprint Epic 4G packs in multiple shooting modes, scene modes, and detail adjustments such as contrast, saturation, and sharpness. The action shot mode is unique and useful while fun. A quick comparison with the HTC EVO did not find as deep a list of features on that device. Picture quality stands up too, everything you would expect from a 5 megapixel camera. More samples below.
Purchase the Sprint Epic 4G from Amazon.
Epic 4G Photo Gallery:
See and download the full gallery on posterous