Samsung K Zoom: an owner’s perspective and review

A couple of months ago, while travelling to Norway I had an unanticipated stopover in Singapore due to a cancelled flight and had the chance to look at the new Samsung K Zoom. I was in the market for a new phone and had been reading a number of previews of this new camera/phone from Samsung. It was being marketed as a phone for photography lovers really and the camera features of it are quite impressive to say the least. The 20 megapixel camera has 20x zoom (10x optical zoom) which is quite incredible in itself.
I was going to Norway for work but had a few days off after and headed up to Svalbard afterwards where I was hoping to spend some time hiking and taking photos. I took my DSLR and a pretty good compact camera (Leica D-Lux 6) but on purchasing the K Zoom, the D-Lux 6 pretty much stayed in the bag for the whole trip.
The camera app has a host of features including an impressive 360 degree panorama mode. Below is an example – it really is worth clicking on it and expanding it to its full size to get an appreciation of this mode.

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Below are a few snapshots from around Oslo. I haven’t edited them to straighten them up and they really are just snapshots but they give a feel for the images the camera takes:

One of the first things I wanted to do was to check out the zoom capabilities of the lens. Here’s an interesting street shot of bunches of people sitting on some steps outside the train station:
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.. and here’s a couple of shots taken from the same spot but using the 20x zoom capability::

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It’s pretty impressive for a phone! Now for the owner’s perspective. It’s bulky! It seemed so at first but then I got used to it after a few days but after a couple of months it’s starting to become a bit tiresome. It has a very uneven weight distribution too and has almost fallen out of my hand a couple of times. I find I have to carry it around in my hand rather than my pockets as it is just a bit too big.

I had planned on doing a very full review looking at all the different camera modes and different shooting conditions (e.g. low light) however the camera no longer works! Yes, that’s right – I have had it for about 6-7 weeks and this is what I get when I try to start the camera up now:

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A couple of weeks ago I was transferring some photos to my computer using the Samsung app (Kies) and I received a notification and request to upgrade the firmware in the camera (promising me better performance). I went ahead with the upgrade and now the camera doesn’t work. As soon as you try to change modes, you get the above message. A call to Samsung’s chat line advised me to clear the apps data and cache. This worked for a couple of shots but then the error reappeared with a vengeance.
I sent an email to their support centre and was advised a factory reset would be required. I have done this but the problem remains. It’s a huge disappointment given the camera is the main reason why anyone would probably buy this camera. I am at a loss now what to do however would advise anyone considering buying one of these phones to think twice. Samsiung have not done anything about it and my phone is really just an expensive piece of junk. Given the fact that most if not everyone who buys this phone, buys it for its photographic capabilities, it astounds me that Samsung could release such a shoddy firmware upgrade. Don’t they do any testing!
In summary, after owning it for 6-7 weeks I cannot recommend this camera to anyone. It’s main feature doesn’t work.

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