Samsung Galaxy S5 30 Day Challenge, Day 13: Camera

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| May 26, 2014

Earlier today, I realized that maybe I wanted to pick up a stand-alone camera. It isn't the first time that I've considered it, and if I don't end up picking up a camera while this thought is running circles in my head, it probably won't be the last. So far I've been pretty happy with the experiences I've managed to get out of the cameras I use in the smartphones I've equipped over the years, but I feel like the wait for that great shooter is getting to me. We're probably still a few years out from getting the perfect camera experience in a smartphone, so I guess I could probably just dabble in a camera until then.

That doesn't mean I'm going to stop taking pictures with my phone, of course. Not by any means. While phone manufacturers work tirelessly to get a perfect camera experience in our consolidated devices, the truth is that unless you carry that stand-alone camera with you everywhere (and I know people who do this), the camera in our smartphone is the right tool for the job in the heat of the moment. They may not produce the best images ever, but in this day and age where we immediately share them to social networks, well, they're usually good enough.

It's actually pretty awesome that we've got such a varied experience in the camera department when it comes to our phones. Considering how . . . similar . . . some devices can feel in the specs department, regardless of the manufacturer, the camera is still one area where the experience, and megapixels, can be totally different. From 4 UltraPixels to 41-megapixels, and with plenty of numbers in between, the variety is incredible.

The experiences can be just as good. Or proportionally awful.

Samsung has made an obvious effort in making sure that the camera you get in devices like the Galaxy S flagship or the Galaxy Note phablet flagship is worth your attention. There will always be complaints about anything and the cameras in these devices, even the Galaxy S5, is no different, but it's always going to come down to personal experience. You know for a fact you'll find someone who hates the camera in the One M8, and someone else who loves it. The same can be said for any device.

The same image caught with the iPhone 5's camera.

With that out there, I want to say that I don't hate the Galaxy S5's camera. I've acutely hated the software (and camera itself, based on the images its delivered to me) on previous Samsung-branded devices, especially when the company was so beholden to the idea that they need to shove software features everywhere. Older camera software schemes from the company were messy, lag-tastic and a pain to use. That's not the case with the Galaxy S5's shooter. (Wish I could say the same for most of TouchWiz.)

The experience is quick enough, even if it takes a moment (like on many devices) to initially load up. Images come into focus quickly enough more often than not, but I did find some instances where putting the focus on something in the foreground caused some issues here and there. Otherwise, finding the right image was never that difficult.

Improvements wise, simply selecting a different Mode in the camera app for the Galaxy S5 is worlds better than it used to be. No more ridiculously slow, infuriating "carousel" option that pops out of the right side of the screen. No, now it's just a list of icons at the bottom of the screen that are easy to access, choose, and move on with. It doesn't slow the whole experience down, either, and that's a big bonus in my book.

If you're a fan of options, though, you'll be happy to know that Samsung has plenty for you. Including the Help and Reset options, there are a total of 25 to choose from. That ranges from Face Detection to Voice Control. It's an impressive roster, and for anyone who likes or looks for that sort of control, this camera won't disappoint.

Outside of all of that, the camera on the Galaxy S5 didn't disappoint me when it came to actually taking photos or showing me the results. It's quick on the snap, and it does take some pretty crisp images. In this particular case, the large(r) display on the Galaxy S5 does work as a great view screen, too.

For me, personally, by any stretch of the imagination the Galaxy S5 is certainly a "good enough" camera. It's quick, responsive, and takes some great shots, especially in natural lighting. I didn't get any chances to take some low-light shots yet, so if I do at some point by the end of this 30 Day Challenge, I'll update you accordingly.

Products mentioned