More about products in this article
We put four top-of-the-line phone cameras to the test under a range of shooting conditions.
1 Hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung launched its flagship Galaxy S4 smartphone to much pomp and spectacle last night at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Often, such over-the-top theatrics could mask a lack of substance underneath. But that's not the case with the Galaxy S4. We went hands-on with the S4 at the New York event, and came away impressed with the innovative and well-integrated software and hardware enhancements that will keep Samsung well-ahead of its competition.
The first thing to note about the S4 is that it's practically identical in footprint and weight to its predecessor, and yet it's thinner and crams a slightly larger display into that space than on the S3. The S4 measures 13.5 by 7cm (5.38 by 2.74 in), just 1mm (0.04 in) narrower than the S3 - and a notable 11mm (0.43 in) narrower than the Galaxy Note II. The S4 is also very marginally lighter than the S3.
Overall, the phone felt comfortable to handle. Where the Samsung Galaxy Note II is nigh impossible to balance in one hand for typing, not so with the S4. It's weight and dimensions make it light enough to hold in one hand without any noticeable impact, yet large enough to get a satisfying display of text and photos.
The phone's design is a little more squared off around the sides than the S3, but it still felt good in our hands. The back remains a polycarbonate plastic material, but it felt more sturdy than the predecessor, with a slight textured patterning that gave the phone a moderately classier look.
One very noticeable dfference is the larger screen size on the S4. The phone's Super AMOLED screen measures a comfortable 5.0 inches, a satisfying 0.2-inch bump over the S3. The resolution is better, too: 1920-by-1080 pixels, and 441 pixels per inch, a notable step up over the Galaxy S3's Super AMOLED 1280-by-720 pixels and 306 ppi. We could see a distinct difference in the image quality between the two: The S4 looked sharper and crisper to our eyes, on text as well as images. But the distinctions were less clear when compared with the larger Galaxy Note II.
The new model uses a PenTile AMOLED display, the same type as on the S3 before it. A PenTile display arranges the display's subpixels as red, green, blue, green, an arrangement that helps counter the fact that blue subpixels often degrade faster on AMOLED displays. It also accounts for the display not appearing as crisp as an RGB display, such as the one found on the Galaxy Note II.
Indeed, we saw this when viewing a photo on the new S4 compared with the Note II. We noticed some minor differences in color and sharpness on our own photo. The Note II's image appeared slightly sharper, but the S4 had more balanced skin tones.
With the new Adapt display mode enabled, the differences were even more pronounced. This adaptive display setting automatically adjusts the contrast and brightness of the display depending upon the content you're viewing, optimizing based on whether you're watching a video, looking at an image, or reading a Web page or book, for example. On the S4, the Adapt display feature is more universally applied than on the Galaxy Note 8.0 tablet. In the Note 8.0's reading mode that mode is strictly optimized for reading apps and also adjusts for color temperature.
Ultimately, further testing will be necessary under controlled conditions and with the final, shipping S4 to determine how the different settings impact how images look on the display. Among the other display options now available are Dynamic, Standard, Professional Photo (Adobe RGB), and Movie.
Gesture navigation first gained mainstream traction with Microsoft's Xbox Kinect. Then gestures moved into televisions and then to PCs, for example Sony's Vaio E-series. Through it all, we've heard talk about integrating gestures into smartphones and tablets - and now that becomes a reality in the Galaxy S4.
We tested the gesture navigation in the Gallery app, where we navigated images simply with the forward or backwards swipe of a hand. In practice, we found the sensors a bit too sensitive, requiring precision and proximity to work smoothly. More often than not it felt like there was lag, or our swipe wasn't registered. Perhaps that will still be tweaked in time for the U.S. launch coming later in April. Ultimately, as nifty as this feature may seem, Samsung's going to have to offer up some training to walk folks through which apps support gestures, and what those gestures are (for example, you can also swipe in the browser to change among open Web pages, and swipe to answer an incoming call, neither of which we tested).
The Smart Scroll feature lets you scroll through content such as webpages by tilting the phone slightly into the corresponding direction. We did not get a chance to test feature yet but it seemed to work well in the Samsung demo. Smart Pause, meanwhile, detects if you've taken your face away from the screen during playback, and if so, it pauses the action for you. Nifty in its implementation, and its function.
Also new is Air View, a feature that first was announced on this spring's Galaxy Note 8.0 tablet. There, Air View lets you use the tablet's S Pen to hover over information in a supported app, gaining a shortcut to paying or getting further information. For example, in Flipboard, you could hold the pen over a category and get a preview of the headlines. On the S4, which also comes with Flipboard, you can now use your finger to do these actions. You can also use your finger to draw directly on the screen using an included app like S Memo, just as you'd use the S Pen on the Note II. For both actions, we found our fingers less precise than using the S Pen on the Galaxy Note 8.0; but, our fingers got the job done without the albatross of a pen.
The S4 phone actually borrows heavily from software elements found in the Note 8.0 tablet, which was only just introduced in February, and will be available in Q2 2013. Multi-window provides a scrollable list of supported apps (apps like email, gallery, Gmail, Internet browser, maps, messaging, S Memo, Talk, and YouTube). Long hold the back button to see the fly-out menu, then tap and drag one app, then the second app. You could technically choose to have three things going at the same time, if you were to overlay the popup player as well.
Entirely unique to the S4 phone are the array of features around health and fitness. We liked how the apps for these features were integrated, taking advantage of the new ensors built-into the phone - including ones for temperature and humidity.
In general, we liked many of the tweaks to the software, and many of the included apps - be they for health tracking or TV viewing or scanning business cards. On the whole, these enhancements collectively appealed; the real proof, however, will lie in how well these features all work with a device in the real world.
We put four top-of-the-line phone cameras to the test under a range of shooting conditions.
Landscape photography isn't as simple as just showing up in front of a beautiful view and taking a couple of pictures. Landscape shooters have a unique set of needs and requirements for their gear, and we've selected some of our favorites in this buying guide.
Quick. Unpredictable. Unwilling to sit still. Kids really are the ultimate test for a camera's autofocus system. We've compiled a short list of what we think are the best options for parents trying to keep up with young kids, and narrowed it down to one best all-rounder.
If you're a serious enthusiast or working pro, the very best digital cameras on the market will cost you at least $2000. That's a lot of money, but generally speaking these cameras offer the highest resolution, the best build quality and the most advanced video specs out there, as well as fast burst rates and top-notch autofocus.
Are you a speed freak? Hungry to photograph anything that goes zoom? Or perhaps you just want to get Sports Illustrated level shots of your child's soccer game. Keep reading to find out which cameras we think are best for sports and action shooting.
|Perfection in Repetition by Nilesh Trivedi|
from Your City -Repetition
|a century before powerpointP1540926 by nt35|
from Books - Macro only
|Red splash by millan|
|1958 Edsel-8060 by vbuhay|
from E is for...
According to a Reuters report, US Congress is urging US companies to sever ties with Chinese manufacturers of communication equipment.
A firm launch date is still forthcoming, but in the meantime a sample reel from Kodak's new Super 8 camera has been released.
HTC's newest handset, the HTC U11 Eyes, improves on the standard U11 by slapping a dual camera on the front for 'portrait mode' selfies with real-time bokeh simulation.
Missile scare notwithstanding, we spent a lovely few days in Hawaii shooting with Sony's newest APS-C E-mount lens. See how it measures up capturing the spectacular scenery that the Aloha State is known for.
Now that we've completed our review of Panasonic's Lumix DC-G9, we've updated its entry in our Best Cameras Under $2000 and Best Cameras for Sports & Action buying guides.
Hasselblad has introduced its next-generation multi-shot camera body, built to shoot 400-megapixel photos by using sensor-shift technology to combine up to six exposures into a single monster image measuring 23200 x 17400 pixels.
CVS is banning digitally altered beauty imagery on its store-brand beauty products, and plans to mark other brands' images as "Digitally Altered" if they're not up to snuff by the end of 2020.
Canon has announced that it will introduce a series of printers that allow users to refill the ink tanks themselves—a surprising shift that could, in theory, save customers quite a bit of money.
Adventure and lifestyle photographer Lucy Martin put together a useful little video that goes over her 18 favorite Lightroom shortcuts—a great guide for beginners.
Following a series of allegations of sexual misconduct against Bruce Weber and Mario Testino, magazine publisher Conde Nast has severed ties with both of the famed fashion photographers, and released a code of conduct for future photo shoots.
Photographer Christopher Payne captures the 'colorful world of craft and complexity' you'll find in the General Pencil Company's factory in Jersey City... and almost nowhere else.
A new feature in the Google Arts & Culture app compares your facial features to its database of thousands of artworks, finding your fine art "doppelganger."
Recently, we spent a day in Los Angeles with photographer, cook and food blogger Kylie Mazon. Join us and see how Kylie approaches the challenge of shooting lifestyle and promotional images for a downtown hotel with the Canon EOS M6.
Leica has announced a pair of short telephoto lenses for its SL full-frame mirrorless camera. The APO-Summicron-SL 75mm and 90mm F2 ASPH lenses feature an apochromatic design to reduce chromatic aberration, one aspherical element and minimum focusing distances of around 0.5m.
The Panasonic G9 is the brand's top-tier stills camera. We've updated our already large sample gallery with even more photos to enjoy.
The latest product of Huawei's collaboration with Leica is a smartphone with a great all-around imaging feature set that left us very little to complain about.
In this quick video, award-winning travel photographer Bob Holmes shares nine of his most basic and straightforward tips for finding great images, even when you're in a rut.
Gudsen has launched a new gimbal that’s aimed at mirrorless photographers. With a payload of 3.9lbs/1.8kg, the new Moza AirCross can provide stabilization to a mirrorless body even fitted with a cinema lens and a new in-handle option can provide power to Sony and Panasonic cameras.
The Lensbaby 46mm Macro Kit comprises of three stackable filters with different magnification levels, which can be combined with several of the company's "bokeh effect" lenses.
Nikon Rumors is reporting that an upcoming full-frame mirrorless camera from Nikon will sport an all-new "Z-Mount" with an extremely short flange distance of just 16mm.
A lot of people still have positive associations with the Kodak brand and its iconic logos, but it’s worth clearing something up: not everything with the Kodak name on it has much connection to a bunch of clever people in Rochester, New York.
A leaked image of a Galaxy S9 retail box indicates the new model might come with a variable aperture lens and a super-slow-motion video mode.
The portable little scanner features a 3.5-inch color screen, an integrated SD card slot for saving your scans, adapter trays for different types of film, and an HDMI port for viewing your scans directly on an external display.
Yesterday, Canon Italy and Canon Spain accidentally shared a composite photo that contained stolen elements shot with a Fujifilm camera. Today, in a response on social media, the company somehow managed to make things worse.
We've got a pair of Sigma 16mm F1.4 DC DN lenses in the office: one for Micro Four Thirds and the other for Sony E-mount. In this article we have some impressions of the MFT version, as well as some other lenses in this class worth considering.
Most wedding photographers are probably open to a little bit of feedback from their clients, but one Hong Kong couple was reportedly so upset, they provided their photographer with a detailed 30-page report full of their grievances!
It appears Huwei's ties to the Chinese Government and a fear of espionage have played a role in AT&T's decision not to offer the Huawei Mate 10 Pro and it's Leica-branded dual camera to customers in the United States.
The Autel Robotics EVO looks like the first serious competitor for DJI's Mavic Pro Platinum. With a better remote, slightly better camera, and a slightly cheaper price tag, this drone could steal some serious Mavic market share.
Sony has released firmware version 2.00 for its flagship a9 mirrorless camera. The most notable improvements are to continuous AF, but overall stability has been addressed, as well.
Kodak just debuted a bitcoin mining machine for rent at CES, leaving photographers slack-jawed and confused, and cryptocurrency mining experts balking at what they claim is an outright scam.