Samsung Galaxy S4 offers cool features for amateur photographers

I finally got my hands on the Samsung Galaxy S4 this past week, and while I had gotten my "latest and greatest Android handset" fix with the extended time I had with the HTC One, I was still eager to check out the S4 -- not for all the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink features advertised in their commercials (seriously, controlling the phone by waving your hand in front of it is just silly -- controlling your TV from across the room, now that's another story), but for the camera.

Like all new parents, I take pictures of my kids constantly, and like all new parents I've got way too many diapers, wipes, snacks, etc. to worry about taking along the nice digital camera everywhere I go. To wit, ever since I deemed the iPhone 4's camera "good enough" three years ago, my smartphone has been my main camera for no other reason than it's always with me.

So these days when new phones are announced the first thing I do is check out the camera features -- and the features on the Galaxy S4 had me very intrigued. In keeping with the rest of the phone, the Galaxy S4's camera comes with an absurd number of features and if you don't mind indulging me by looking at the two cutest kids on Earth (not to mention their gorgeous mother) here are some of my favorites:


Eraser Shot: I'm not sure what I'm more surprised about, that this mode is so easy to use or that it works so well. Select this mode and the S4 will take several pictures in a row over a few seconds and will automatically detect any movement besides what it's focused on, highlighting those objects in purple. With one touch, you can remove said objects and then the S4 will stitch back together the background from the other photos it took leaving you with only what you want in the shot.


Best Face: With this mode selected, the S4 will again take several photos at once, then present you with options as to who had the -- wait for it -- best face. Select which one you want then it will merge that into the main photo. Again, surprised how well it worked.


Drama Shot: Probably more gimmicky than useful, but Drama Shot produced some undeniably cool photos, like this one of my son and daughter chasing each other on the playground.


Dual Shot: Speaking of the playground, here's the Dual Shot mode in action, which activates the front camera and takes a picture at the same time as the back camera so the photographer can place himself in the shot. Not terribly useful for photos, I'm guessing, but very useful for video chats so you can see what your audience is seeing.

The S4's camera has a few other features worth noting, such as a great "Sound & Shot" mode, which allows you to record audio for any picture; "Animated Photo," which essentially makes your photos into a short GIF file and also offers the ability to control the camera via voice command -- say "SMILE!" and the S4 will take the shot, allowing you to hold the phone as steady as possible without worrying about touching the screen to snap the picture.

All in all some very cool stuff in the Galaxy S4 for we amateur photogs.

Morgan Bonner is pre-press manager and a systems administrator for the Packet and Gazette.