I can’t remember the last time I bought a camera. Like most smartphone-owning folks I have got used to using the built-in camera with all of its advantages. After all, my Nokia Lumia has an 8 megapixel camera and loads of photo apps – not least one I wrote myself ;-)
Another advantage of using my phone instead of a separate camera is its connectivity. I can upload photos to Facebook or my SkyDrive account pretty easily instead of having to wait until I get home to sync my camera with my PC.
All of which meant that I struggled to see a need for a separate camera. So I was really surprised to find just how much I am enjoying using the new Samsung ST200F camera that I managed to get my mitts on.
Let’s start with the basics: It has a 16 megapixel camera, twice that of my phone, with a proper 10x zoom lens. You can get phones with a built-in zoom lens but they’re pretty rare. You can also buy zoom lens attachments for smartphones but it’s all a bit clunky in my opinion. A proper camera with a zoom lens seems a much more efficient package in my book.
I bought an 8GB microSD card for it (from Amazon, under £8 delivered) which gives me room for over 3000 photos – enough to be going on with. And of course unlike the phone I’m not competing for space with apps, files, music, etc. Which means that I have 8GB just for my photos.
While the camera has loads of impressive features my real interest in this camera is its WiFi capabilities. If you connect to a WiFi network you can upload your photo straight away to SkyDrive, or Facebook, or email it to someone. In fact, if you shoot a video with it you can upload it straight to YouTube. To me this is a really useful feature and one that really does mean that I feel good about taking the camera out with me instead of just relying on the phone. So many venues offer a free WiFi service now that it’s becoming reasonably possible not to need a mobile network. It does of course depend on where you are – central London is pretty good generally, but a a trip to the Yorkshire Dales might be more problematical in terms of finding an open WiFi network. But assuming you find one (and often the local pub is a good option) you can upload your photos straight away without waiting until you get home to sync them.
If you upload to SkyDrive then you have the great advantage that they will simply sync to all your PCs automatically. When you get home, or to the office, you’ll see the photos you have uploaded right on your PC. Of course you can attached the camera to the PC using the USB cable as well if you prefer to.
I’m going to focus on the SkyDrive piece rather than providing a full camera review, not least because there will be plenty of other reviews elsewhere I’m sure.
As per the above photos, the SkyDrive upload facility appears under the “Cloud” item. You can only upload photos (no videos) to SkyDrive at the moment. You may be wondering about file sizes – after all, a full 16 megapixel photo is likely to be pretty sizeable. The camera gives you an option to upload a smaller version if you prefer.
The SkyDrive feature works really well. It remembers your WiFi networks and passwords as you’d expect, and is even able to show a webpage for log in information if necessary – handy, as many public networks require you to enter some information to gain access. I haven’t tried this aspect extensively but so far it seems to work pretty well. For example, in the image below I’m able to enter a username and password via a web page to connect to a network. Keyboard entry is via a built-in virtual keyboard. It requires you to move the cursor around to type (it isn’t touch screen) but it’s efficient enough.
I’ll let other sites review the camera in all its glory. I have to say that I am really impressed with this camera and I predict I’ll be making good use of it. My phone camera will continue to get used of course, but the capabilities of Samsung’s ST200F will make it a useful addition to my picture-taking arsenal.