In the entire two years I owned my HTC EVO 4G, I took somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 to 400 pictures. I know this, because they were all in my camera uploads folder in my Dropbox. Of those pictures, I would say that about 25% of them were for this site. That leaves around 250 personal pictures taken by a device that I carried with me every day. I’m sure there are some people that take less than that with their smartphones, but that averages out to one picture every three days.
Since I have activated my Samsung Galaxy Note II, I have taken 1,154 pictures. At the time of me writing this article, that is an average of just over 41 pictures taken every day. How did I go from taking one picture every third day to averaging over 41 a day? The short answer is because Samsung made their camera app so much fun to use.
I’m going to add a disclaimer in here now and say that I didn’t explore any third party camera apps at all on my previous phone. I barely explored the options in the default camera app that came with my EVO 4G. There is quite possibly an app or setting that could have fixed what I wanted it to, but the issue here is that out of the box, the camera and app on the Note II is miles ahead of what my EVO 4G camera and app were. Now, this of course makes a lot of sense as there was over two years of advancements in between the time they came out. What I’m referring to now has to do with how the stock app and camera work without changing any significant settings.
My EVO 4G had a pretty decent camera, but the camera app itself was nothing fancy. The most annoying thing was how long it actually took to take a single photo. The whole process of focusing, activating the flash, actually capturing the picture, and then being ready to take another shot took anywhere from three to five seconds on average. For taking pictures of still objects, it was perfectly fine. To try and capture any kind of action shot at all was almost impossible.
For example, my wife likes to do jumping photos. That’s what she calls them, and she absolutely loves them. With my EVO 4G, when she wanted to take some jumping photos, it took some very careful counting and timing to get the shot captured. I would count to three, and she knew that she had to jump on three. But I knew that in order to give my camera enough time to focus and capture the image I had to push the shutter button when I said two, and even then there was a good chance I would miss it. It would normally take us at least five or six tries just to get one usable picture.
All that has changed with my Note II. There are a few ways I can easily take these jumping photos now. The first way is simply by tapping the shutter button repeatedly. After the initial focusing the camera just keeps those settings and lets me take as many pictures in a row as I want. I can keep hitting that shutter button and my phone will keep taking pictures. So instead of taking one picture every jump, I can take four to five pictures in a row of the same jump and am guaranteed to get one that she will be happy with.
The other way I can capture these jumping photos is by using burst mode. Burst mode lets me hold down the shutter button and take a rapid fire group of 20 pictures. Again, I’m almost guaranteed that somewhere in those 20 photos will be one that my wife is happy with.
The third way of capturing jumping photos is by using the camcorder part of the app. Wait, what? Use the camcorder to capture photos? I’m sure almost everyone has seen the commercial of the sheep kicking a guy’s backpack off a cliff while his buddy records it and snaps a picture of it to upload to his favorite social media site. That’s exactly how it works on the Note II.
You can take pictures while recording with the camcorder simply by tapping the camera icon in the corner of the screen. If you have already recorded a video, you can pull a still image out of it as well. While viewing a video you already shot, you will see there is a camera icon in the top middle of your screen. Tap that icon and a still image of that frame will be saved to your gallery.
So there are the three ways that I can make sure I have a jumping photo that my wife will be happy with. Usually the ones that she is happiest with are the ones where she is highest in the air, legs kicked off to the side, hands up in the air, and big smile on her face. Below you can see the progression of the jump from lift-off to landing in the four photos I took.
There are a lot of options on Samsung’s camera app. You have all the different camera options that most people don’t even know what they do like white balance, ISO, metering, and exposure. Then you have a bunch of options that you could only use with a camera on a smartphone – things like GPS tagging, auto-sharing, and one of my favorites, the ability to take pictures using your voice. That’s right, simply enable this mode and you can take a picture by saying something like “capture” or “shoot.”
However the one option that is missing is the one that most companies don’t include, and I don’t understand why. That is the option to not have a shutter sound. The shutter sound is the most annoying thing about the camera to me. The only way to get it to not play is if your phone is in silent mode. Most stand alone cameras have the ability to shut off the shutter sound, so why would smartphone cameras not have that option?
I would love to hear what you think about the camera on your Samsung phone. Does it make you want to take pictures like it makes me want to take pictures?