Camera Operation

The Galaxy S5's camera layout is pretty intuitive: video, shutter and mode buttons on the right, customizable setting shortcuts on the left.

The Galaxy S5 does not have a physical shutter button to open the camera app, so you have to tap on the camera icon or you can activate a camera short-cut on the lock-screen via the settings menu. The latter is not quite as quick as the shutter-button solution on the Sony Xperia Z devices or the Nokia Lumias but still gives you easy access to the camera.

The camera app opens swiftly and once inside things are pretty straightforward. You press the shutter button on the right to capture an image and tap on the screen to focus. If that's one step too many for you, 'tap to take pics' can be activated in the settings menu.  

In the settings you can tick the box for the camera shortcut on the lock screen.
Swipe from the camera icon on the lock screen to go straight to the camera app.

Exposure is not linked to the focus point, so you cannot influence the brightness of an image by focusing on a specifically dark or bright area of the preview image. That wouldn't be much of a problem if the S5' exposure compensation option would not be buried deep in the menu. However, you have to enter the gear menu and then scroll down all the way to the bottom before you'll find the option. This process is more long winded than you'd wish but you can obtain better control over exposure on the Galaxy S5 by installing a third-party camera app, such as Camera FV-5 or Google's own Camera app.

It seems the S5 camera app wants to offer anything you could possibly do with a smartphone camera in one single app. However, despite the large number shooting modes and options, the control structure is quite well thought-out and pretty intuitive. There is a column of four shortcuts on the left side of the screen and you can pull any of the option tiles in the settings menu to one of the shortcut slots to customize your UI. The default shortcuts are front/rear camera switch, selective focus, HDR mode and the menu.  You can also change the order of items within the settings menu. Here you've got access to ISO, video mode and digital image stabilization among other parameters.  

The option tiles in the settings menu can be moved round and placed on the shortcut column on the left.
Tapping on an option either activates it or opens up a sub-selection.

The Mode button below the virtual shutter button gives you access to the S5's special shooting modes that we'll talk more about on the features pages in this review. Overall Samsung's newly redesigned camera app offers a lot of features and functions and is well structured, but those who want exposure compensation or a simpler approach to smartphone picture taking might want to look for alternatives in the Google Play Store.