Introduction

 Source: Samsung

All of Samsung’s new Family Hub 2.0 line of camera fridges come in three or four door configurations, have 21.5” 1080p LED screens, and of course, internet connectivity and cameras with enough resolution to allow you the freedom to count your yogurt cups from anywhere in the world.

Electronics giant Samsung has been largely absent from consumer digital imaging lately, save for its ongoing lineups of smartphones and tablets (please, don’t say ‘phablets’ within earshot of anyone, anywhere). That all changed at CES 2017, where the company has shown a renewed vigor in the digital imaging space with an update to its Family Hub refrigerator-based camera technology.

At the heart of this system is the large LED screen on the front of the units, which will allow you to load web pages, place food orders, leave notes for your family, and of course, frame your photographs of the food that is being cared for by the very device doing the photographing. The 21st century sure is grand.

Key Specs

  • Camera type: Fridge
  • Price as tested: $3499
  • Resolution: Good enough
  • ISO: Good enough
  • Image stabilization: Weight-based (334 lb. shipping weight)
  • AF Point Selection: Dunno
  • Battery life: AC power only
  • Fingerprint resistance: Standard

So who, then, is the Samsung Family Hub 2.0 camera fridge for? For the budding food photographer, it doesn’t get much easier. If you’re a landscape shooter though, you may run into some limitations.

In practice

The Family Hub 2.0 line of camera refrigerators makes basic food photography as easy as can be. The camera fridge acts essentially as a large softbox or cove, with ample space to style your food with ease.

Your photos with your camera fridge will look nothing like this, because this is a camera in a fridge, not a camera built into a fridge door. Important distinction.

A full internal LED lighting setup provides bright, constant illumination to allow you to capture your stylized creations or past-due eggs with a flattering (or maybe just flat) look, and internet connectivity lets you share these works with literally anyone in the world, even if no one wants to see them. In other words, this could be the perfect food-focused Instagrammer's main camera.

There’s also an argument to be made for the eccentric product photographer who prefers to shoot primarily on bright reflective white, or the accomplished portraitist who wants some variety for his or her 'Trapped Businessman' portfolio (note, the 'similar images' listings on that page show a similar theme, 'Trapped,' but for some reason, the businessman is nude - fair warning).

But as an enthusiasts’ all-rounder, the Family Hub 2.0 camera fridge leaves something to be desired. First of all, to photograph anything besides what’s actually in the fridge, you will have to literally saw the back of the fridge off (DPReview in no way endorses this activity). And though the immense weight will be a boon to those photographing landscapes in windy conditions, the lack of any sort of control over image capture settings makes long exposures of waterfalls, grassy knolls and the like exceedingly difficult to capture with any sense of motion or grandeur.

There goes a brave man.*

For wildlife, you’re going to need a very long extension cord to keep the generator noise far enough away to keep from frightening your subjects, to say nothing of the rustling you’d make wheeling the camera up to a confused and soon-to-be angry Grizzly. And as for sports, the lack of a zoom will be limiting for anything besides a slot-car track built inside the fridge itself; wheeling a fridge up and down the sidelines of your local football match is likely to cause health problems.

Lastly, there’s no Auto ISO or Raw support (besides supporting the chilling of various raw meats), and these are both features that are present on many competing camera models in this price range. Of course, none of those competing models comes with a fridge built-in. So you just can't have it all, it seems.

The wrap

Overall, we’re pleased to see Samsung’s continued commitment this new (ice) age of digital imaging. Their Family Hub 2.0 line of camera fridges offer easy-to-use Wi-Fi connectivity in solid, well-built packages. But we can’t help but feel that the camera fridge phenomenon as a whole will be given the cold shoulder by the broader photography community.

After all, the price of entry for a camera that primarily appeals to food photographers is fairly steep. And even if you can appreciate the stabilizing heft, there will be those for whom a hand truck is just one photography accessory too many. Perhaps most importantly, if you need to photograph anything besides what you place in the fridge, it’ll require a couple of warranty-breaching hours with a hacksaw.

In the end, the Family Hub 2.0 line of camera fridges is going to appeal to a very select niche, and if it’s the right camera for you, who are we to judge? But if you need a more well-rounded solution for your photography, we have to recommend that you hold off and put that pre-order on ice.

*In accordance with Creative Commons 2.0 and 3.0 licensing, image is a composite with credits to Rob Bixby for the photographer, Samsung for the fridge and someone whose alias is Traveler100 for the bears.

If you hadn't caught on yet, we're having a little April Fool's Day fun here. We in no way endorse taking a hacksaw to a refrigerator, or really using a refrigerator for anything aside from refrigeration.