Nov 12 AT 5:19 PM Clark Wimberly 9 Comments

Tab video: Using the camera

Continuing the video series we started yesterday, we’re back with a look at the camera(s) on the Samsung Galaxy Tab. We’ve got sample Tab photos, sample Tab video, and a separate video of the Tab camera in use- we’ve got this thing covered from all the angles.

The Tab is sporting just a 3MP main camera with a single LED flash and a 1.3MP front-facing camera. While 3MP certainly isn’t anything to write home about, time has taught us that megapixels aren’t everything. And while I’d certainly take more, the Tab performs reasonably at 3MP.

The image quality isn’t really any better or any worse than any other phone that’s been released in the past few years, which is only mildly disappointing. Holding the thing up to snap pictures feels a bit silly, but like most camera phone moments, simply having a camera period is half the battle.

Samsung has included a custom camera app with some extended options (like allowing you to flip on the front-facing camera with Self Shot mode) that do a good job of using the screen real estate afforded by the huge device, and that’s really all there is to say about it. It’s an average quality cell phone camera, only huge.

Sample captures

2010-11-10 16.53.47 2010-11-10 16.53.55 2010-11-10 16.53.38

I’ve included a handful of sample photos and a video so you can see the amazingly average quality. In all fairness, when these pictures are viewed on the Tab itself they look quite nice- it’s only once you view them at full resolution that they seem underwhelming.

The front-facing camera also enables video chat (with services like Qik and Tango- our favorite so far) and overall it’s a pretty solid experience. We tested the chat on wifi and on 3G here in Austin and only had a bit of trouble with the 3G. Regular call quality seemed to be on par with Skype or the like and really seemed like something I’d use occasionally if I owned the device.

The flash isn’t the brightest we’ve seen but we liked that they included a built-in option for recording with the flash on. Not all devices allow you to do so and in a pinch the extra light can really make the difference between a passable video and some unwatchable blurry squares.

The Verdict

I’ll admit I didn’t really take this camera through the paces. I tested it, don’t get me wrong, I just didn’t sit there and obsess over every little setting like I might do with a camera that’s really impressing me. From the beginning the Tab seemed to have a decent camera with a good interface, that’s probably enough for most people. If you absolutely need more I’d recommend carrying a real camera or a phone with some serious camera innards.

PS: Again, thanks to @bigkeivan for being such a lovely hand model.

PPS: in the video we mention the camera not reviewing the photos, but you can enable that in the settings.

UPDATE As commenter anakin78z points out, you can’t record video while in Self Shot mode (front-facing camera). We noticed then and found it a bit odd considering the video chat apps work just fine, just forgot to mention it in our written review. Also he pointed out that the Self Shot mode is stuck in portrait (see for yourself in the video). Both these things are annoying but not total deal-breakers and can likely be fixed with a future software upgrade (with any luck).

Clark is a developer living in Austin, Texas. He runs ClarkLab, a small web firm with his wife, Angie. He's a big fan of usability, standards, and clean design.

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  • anakin78z

    Did the most fun thing with my Tab today: I recorded video of our dog while my wife stepped out. Then when she came back, I used DNLA streaming to play it to our tv straight from the Tab. Soooo fun!

    The mic on the Tab is friggin fantastic. Picks up audio way better than my phone ever did.

    • Clark Wimberly

      We’ve also recorded a few videos that had us rolling laughing. Something about the form factor and huge screen makes it seem hilarious.

  • anakin78z

    Oh, Clark, I can’t seem to record video using the front facing camera… are you finding the same?
    And ‘self portrait’ mode seems to be stuck in landscape, when the natural way to hold it would be portrait…

  • http://Website peter

    Hold the shutter button to focus then release it to take the picture.

  • http://Website Sebastián Porta

    I really like this video series that you’re doing with the Galaxy Tab. It gives you a detailed view of the potential of the tablet.
    I would like to see that you try the tablet as a comic reader, with an app like “Droid Comic Viewer”
    I’ve seen videos that show other reading app (like books or magazines) but I’m curious to see how a comic it’s display in that 7″ screen.

  • bernardo


  • Ted Neff

    I have a Galaxy TAB and just noticed that the self-portrait mode records pictures and videos in reverse right-left orientation. The give-a-way is to wear a hat with printing on it. Notice all printing is reversed like an ambulance behind you. The picture taken on the PAD is a mirror image, not a direct image. Most graphics packages can take care of the picture reversal, but video reversal is a bit more complicated.