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Samsung Galaxy S4: "Chasseur d'Images" review

By Chasseur d'Images - Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Mobile Review
Introduction | Android boosted by Samsung | Getting started & ergonomics | A plethora of ways to explore | Field Impressions | Measurements | Conclusion

A little thinner than the S3 (7.9 mm instead of 9 mm), the S4 uses the same ergonomics:  the wake button displays the unlock screen and then, by default, phone, messaging, internet and photo icons.

If an issue occurs without warning, it is possible to instantly access the shooting mode and, while benefiting from the autofocus, trigger without any delay.  In addition, the layout of the icons can be customized, thereby placing  "the camera" on a page of the user’s choosing.

When activating the shooting mode, the user is presented with a screen that would be the envy of the most sophisticated compact: large (12.7 inches diagonally!) sharp and bright, all qualities that make it usable even in bright sunlight. Depending on whether the camera is being held horizontally or vertically, the selected frame and icons automatically change to suit the orientation. Meanwhile, the autofocus works, detects faces and confirms what it has selected for focus using a small green rectangle, which can be changed with a single touch from the tip of a finger.  Traditional, but very useful and quite successful, the AF of the S4 is both fast and accurate ... except video in low light where it will sometimes lose the subject.

Samsung-Galaxy-S-4-650

To zoom in, it's simple: the fingers are placed on screen to use the pinch-apart gesture... but it may be preferable side key that in phone- or audio mode is used to adjust the sound level. Remember: this is not a true zoom, but a function of digital cropping of the 13 Mpix image.

Triggering occurs on the touch screen ... but beware not to be confused with the home button, otherwise the shooting mode will be exited and the user returned to the home screen. It's annoying because the button is close to screen edge and falls naturally under the finger or thumb!

So, those filming or photographing with a phone are required to keep fingers spread and the grip relaxed, risking blur and exposure to thieves. Via preferences, it is possible to turn the Volume button into a shutter button.