Finally, a camera that takes phone calls

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We are by now very used to smartphones that can do all sorts of electronic trickery, including taking passable photographs with around 20 MP sensors.  Up-load, down-load, Instagram, Facebook, the integration between your phone and the world of connectivity is all there for you at the touch of a drop-down menu.  It can’t get any better than this, surely?

Well, actually it can!  Enter stage left, the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom, a camera complete with zoom lens, that also allows you to take phone calls and do all the other computer-like operations that smartphones are known for.  This is a camera with a decent optical zoom that will fit in your pocket and let you share your photos as soon as you take them.

The first item to grasp with this camera is that it is truly a fully operational smartphone.  You can make calls, send emails, and use your apps.

This technology is similar to Samsung’s top of the line smartphone, the Galaxy S5; however, the Galaxy K Zoom is not waterproof and dustproof like the S5, probably because of the physical difficulties in doing that with the retractable zoom in the camera side of the K Zoom.

Launching the phone, Samsung’s senior vice president of mobile communications business Sun Hong Lim said the hybrid phone-camera was a result of customer feedback.

Some interesting statistics from Samsung would indicate that 52.5 percent of people use their smartphone as their primary camera.  Then, having captured the images we want to share them.  The Samsung research also says 36 percent of people upload a photo to social media at least four times a week.  (Probably ‘selfies’!)  Samsung also claim that 55 percent of people are dissatisfied with their smartphone photos.

The K Zoom is what Samsung is pinning its hopes on, making it so different from the plethora of camera-phones.  This is the optical zoom which converts the lens from 24mm to 240mm lens on your phone.  The lens is made up of 9 pieces of glass that slide and slot around each other meaning the lens retracts to a more flat position that you might expect.

The camera has a selfie alarm.  First you define a rectangle of where you want your face to be in your selfie, such as the middle of the screen or on the edge of the frame.  Then you point the lens on the front of the camera at you, and when the software detects your face in that predefined zone it fires off three images.

The K Zoom has a couple of other key features that will impress.  When you frame a shot, if you’re in ‘Pro Suggest’ mode the camera will detect the scene and suggest five possible “film” styles you should use, that are a combination of shutter speed, white balance and ISO.  You select a style from the suggestions and then take your shot.

Then there is the tracking feature.  With children that have an attention span of 2.4 milli-seconds, the K Zoom allows you to select an object you want to be in focus and it will keep that subject in focus, like a follow-focus used in video work.

Reviewers overseas who have handled this smartphone say that there are better smartphones than the one in the Galaxy K Zoom, including phones made by Samsung, let alone its main rivals such as the Apple iPhone 5S.  There are also better cameras, but this combination of camera and phone in this form has a lot going for it.

The naming of this device as K Zoom is not immediately apparent, but at the global launch in Singapore, Samsung’s senior vice president of mobile communications business, Sun Hong Lim said the K Zoom had a “Komfortable grip, Kamera essentials, Kapture the moment, and Kompelling performance”.  And apologies to Kellogs Special K which neither receives phone calls nor takes photographs.

However, this device is the second wave as far as I am concerned.  The novelty of phones that can take pictures is no longer at the forefront.  In terms of how cameras (and smartphones) are clearly going, this Samsung K Zoom has the potential of being an impressive performer.