Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Challenge, Day 27: The Camera

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from Arizona
Published: November 4, 2013

I used to be the person that carried around a lot of different devices every single day. You used to see me with a camera, a portable game console, an MP3 player (or CD player before that), and other devices depending on their use case. There were devices out there that had started to converge plenty of those pieces of technology, but I thought the "single use" device was always the better device for what it did. Want to listen to music? Than a music player is the best way to do that, and so on and so forth.

I think a lot of photographers might say the same thing to this day about their cameras, especially when comparing them to cameras shoved into phones, so I'm glad it hasn't completely gone away. Even if I'm not someone who carriers around a standalone camera anymore.

I've admitted in the past that the camera has become my most important feature on a phone, and that's still true. Sure, I use a lot of other features/apps/whatever on a more consistent basis, and more frequently than the camera in general, but when it comes to certain, specific moments, the camera can't let me down. I don't really care if a game crashes on me in the long run, or if an app doesn't work. But if the camera isn't capable of giving me photos worth looking at? That just doesn't work for me.

And that's why I was so excited to get my hands on the Galaxy Note 3 (at least one of the reasons, anyway). Samsung had talked up the camera on the Galaxy Note 3 quite a bit at its launch event, and so I wanted to get my hands on it to try it out. In my search for the next daily driver device, I'm always looking for the total package. My days of carrying around individual devices is long gone, so I need all of the individual parts to work better than average.

I can tell you right now that my time with the Galaxy Note 3's camera has left me quite happy, and it certainly works better than average. If you'll recall, the Galaxy Note boasts a 13MP camera on the back, which has a resolution of 4128x3096 and an aspect ratio of 4:3. There's al so an LED flash just under the lens, and it features autofocus, too. If you want to take photos at a 16:9 ratio, you'll have to shoot with 9.6 megapixels, which puts the resolution at 4128x2322. There are other resolutions and ratios, but for my time with the device I switched between these two only.

Not surprisingly, Samsung has a lot of settings in the camera. 12, to be exact. Ranging from "Golf" mode to "Best photo," there's a setting for pretty much any situation, and that's obviously what Samsung was going for. It can be pretty daunting at first, and to be honest I kept it on the "Auto" setting more often than not. But it's good to see that there are the options there, for anyone who might want to take advantage of them.

The results were pretty good, to be fair. Shooting at the maximum 13MP brought plenty of clarity to my photos, and the colors were good, too. The low-light situation wasn't the best, but I also didn't get a lot of opportunities that offered worthwhile moments to try to take low-light images, either. In good lighting, or under artificial lighting, the images turned out quite nice, and I was definitely pleased with the results.

A lot of you asked for me to take video, which I don't normally do for some reason (I tend to take a lot of photos, and shy away from video), but I made an exception a few times while I was using the Galaxy Note 3. I didn't take any videos in the "standard" quality, though. I went for the 4K resolution, which is 3840x2160, because I felt like I wanted to live in the future. (And because you all asked me to.)

The first thing that popped up was a warning from Samsung, telling me that I can indeed take 4K video, but if I wanted to do that I wouldn't be able to record in dual camera mode, and that I wouldn't be able to take pictures while I was recording my high definition video. Duly noted. I could pause my recording at any time, though, which is nice.

It's as good as you thought it would be, and I'm over the roof that Samsung included the functionality with the Galaxy Note 3. Taking videos is something that I've been doing a lot more of these days, ever since I started using the device as my daily driver, and I don't see myself stopping anytime soon. The videos are sharp, crisp and full of color, and they just look awesome.

I like being able to take a photo with my voice, too. Moreover, my two little girls love to say "Cheese!" and watch as the camera snaps a photo of them. It's these features that some would call a gimmick that honestly make the Galaxy Note 3 stand out, even if it's just a little bit.

Of course, those little features wouldn't matter if the camera didn't cut it, but it certainly does -- at least for my tastes and situations. I wasn't let down by it at all, and I still haven't been. Overall, I've been impressed with the experience, which is a step in the right direction for the Galaxy Note 3 to becoming my daily driver.

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