It seems like another lifetime ago now that I was the kind of photographer who carried around 3 bags of equipment at all times. My back remembers. My fingers still know exactly where to go when I pick up a dSLR but the truth is, I don’t miss those days. I do miss the power that’s inherent in a full frame camera paired with the right prime lens but it’s not worth the sacrifices you have to make as a traveler. I prefer to travel light on the road, and in life, right now. Hence, my interest in the Galaxy Note 3.
My blog and my work has focused for years now on mobile technology and the idea that small devices can still be powerful tools for photography but I’ve not spent as much time on this blog actually talking about it. I’ve shown you the photos with every post. But I intended to do a monthly series on equipment and instead, my travel work took what little spare time I’ve had for this blog. That’s going to be changing. First up, I want to talk about just one of the pieces of technology I’ve been testing lately because I like it far more than I expected to and I have a feeling you might as well.
It’s my Samsung Galaxy Note 3 smartphone. The size is the first thing I noticed when I took it out of the box.
Next, I was happy to find that my favorite editing app, VSCO, was downloadable from the Google Play store and immediately I set about getting it downloaded, set up and working with all the filters I’ve used before and have purchased in the past. Unfortunately, when I tried to sync my previous purchases without paying for them all over again, I did find out that doesn’t work from Apple Store to Google Play store. Even though I have a VSCO account and a grid, only my grid syncs across platforms. The actual purchases do not.
Next, of course, I started capturing test photos. I noticed that images captured with the Samsung do look more like digital photographs than I was anticipating. There’s an almost HDR-esque look to even the most basic images that I haven’t noticed on other smartphones, in particular my iPhone. However, in some circumstances that’s almost good. By that I mean, there’s an absence of sharpness that can make images appear out of focus on other platforms. It’s a flatter look but images also appear sharper. Make sense?
My next step was to download every other social media platform that I use for photo sharing because that’s of course my priority when it comes to using my Smartphone. As a tool, it is primarily for creating content and immediately pushing it out to fans, followers, friends, family, etc.
I discovered that two apps in particular ran quite a bit better on the Note3 than they do on my other smartphones. Google+ and Pinterest. Both are heavy on photo sharing and both apps have a streamlined interface that works well on an Android platform and on the larger screen of the Samsung. These in particular I no longer even use on my iPhone at all if I can help it. Pinterest on the Note3 has a great feature that allows you to press down and then with one finger swipe either like, re-pin or send an image.
With regards to Google+ I also noticed that because the Samsung syncs all my Google information (email accounts, picasa albums, contacts, calendar, etc etc) it also automatically synched any google photographs, back to 2008. This was both a little scary and a little thrilling. All of the sudden, I could share old content to my new audience in seconds right from my ‘gallery’ without even opening another app.
Flipboard too works beautifully. And now I use it again, after having given up on it previously with smaller screens.
Dropbox is the app I’ve always used to sync my images between my MacbookAir, iPhone and iPad. I downloaded it to the Samsung as well and even though it doesn’t work as perfectly as it does on my iPhone (files are more difficult to download onto the Note3 from dropbox), what I do love is that it syncs my photos without my even telling it to. When I take a photo, it uploads to dropbox. Immediately.
I still prefer Instagram on my iPhone but what I do like is the refresh button that is featured in the Android version of the app on my Samsung. With the iPhone version I now have to drag down and hold for a refresh to occur and sometimes this doesn’t work well. The refresh button always works, and very quickly, on the Note3.
One of my favorite pieces of equipment that I have recently decided I won’t go anywhere without is my Sony Qx100. This too I can use with my new Samsung. I downloaded the ‘PlayMemories’ app and went through the steps to connect it via WiFi, opened the app and began shooting within one minute. Lower resolution images are saved into their own folder in my ‘Gallery’ to be shared immediately if I want to. Higher resolution images are stored on the card in the device. The larger screen of the Note3 makes viewing the images I’ve taken a delight and it also makes it easier to change settings while I am shooting because it is controlled by touch and the larger screen better accommodates my large fingers much better!
Battery life is very good with the Note3, a feature that makes an enormous difference for me as someone who takes so many photographs with a smartphone. I can go a day and a half without charging my Note3 even using it as much as I’ve used other smartphones.
Now, as for the built in camera that exists in the Note3, if you’re going to shoot with it instead of within VSCO (as I normally do), you might like that it switches between video and still images nearly seamlessly. The button for video is right next to the shutter button for the camera and the ‘Mode’ button is in the same line at the side. This lets you switch between auto, sports, surround shot, panorama, eraser, rich tone, golf, animated photo, drama, sound & shot, best face, best photo and beauty face modes. That’s a lot of options! And while they’re more than a serious photographer will ever need, because most don’t shoot in any mode except that which is mostly manual… this is still a feature that I was happy to see. It shows that imaging is a priority for Samsung, and since that’s my priority with any smartphone, I have to give them credit for creating those settings.These are the highlights I’ve discovered so far in my short time with this device. I’m sure I’ll have more to share later but if you have any questions, never hesitate to email me kirsten [at] kirstenalana [dot] com. I get an enormous volume of email so I can’t promise to get back to you right away but I do try. You can also ask me questions any time on twitter: @KirstenAlana.
Detailed tech specs on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 can be found here. The camera is 13MP rear with a 2MP front. The display is 5.7″. It takes a Micro SIM and has a slot for added memory with a Micro SD card slot, up to 64GB. It does full HD 1080p video and records up to 60fps.
As member of a pretty cool team of #VZWbuzz influencers, I received the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 free to use and review. A line of service with Verizon was not provided to me. No additional compensation was provided nor did I promise positive feedback. All opinions are, as always, my own.