All of the Galaxy S4’s five kooky new camera settings and modes — out of 13 total modes including auto dual-shot mode is my surprise favorite. Like the same feature on the LG Optimus G Pro, dual-shot mode uses both the front- and rear-facing cameras to create a composite photo or video.
To use it, tap the double camera icon from the camera’s onscreen quick settings to start it up. Then, tap the carat to slide out all eight configurations. Whichever one you choose inlays the front-facing camera image over the main camera photo. One option, split, divides the screen in half. I wouldn’t recommend swapping the cameras, but you can.
Here’s a pro tip: you can tap the smaller image to resize it. When might you use it? To personalize a shot or send a wish-you-were-here message.
Also seen on the HTC One, Drama is the mode you want when you have a well-planned out action sequence you’d like to take from a distance. If you position the camera right and keep it still, it compiles a series of still images into a single frame, keeping the background the same. You can check the box to add or remove which frames you’d like to include. I failed the first handful of times I tried using this mode. It helps to back away from the subject and plot your shot for subjects moving in a single direction.
I had the same trouble making the Eraser mode work. Again, an HTC One option as well, this mode compares five pictures and plays the game of “which of these things is not like the other.” If a person or object clutters a few frames, but not all, the GS4 camera offers to help you remove the offender. As with Drama mode, Eraser mode requires a certain amount of premeditation to successfully use, and as of this review, I still haven’t been able to make it work in real-world tests, even if someone deliberately walked through the frame.
Sound and Shot is one mode I really warmed up to in theory; consider it an audio postcard you’ll send to someone. Instead of captioning the image, you leave up to nine seconds of a voice recording that’s attached to the photo. Unfortunately, it’s completely useless unless the person you’re sending it to also has a GS4.
If you’ve ever wanted to turn your photos or short videos into animated GIFs, the Animated Photo mode is your tool. It lets you isolate any part of a mostly static video, which you “draw” on to select the part you’ll want to animate or freeze. If you keep your camera steady, as I did in a video of waving flags, the tool suggests areas to animate. It looked cool and worked pretty well. Just keep in mind that you need to pick this mode first to use the tool, and that the Galaxy S4 won’t save your original video in the gallery.
If you’re going for a humorous or stylized video, you can play around with high-speed or slow-motion video settings. It makes sense that you can’t convert a video you’ve already shot in another mode (like standard), but how much fun would that be if you could?
In addition to these newbie features, best photo for a group, burst shot, HDR, and panorama (Tip: try it vertically to take in a tall building) are other camera options, too.
Whether Samsung originated the extra camera feature or introduced it after a competitor, there’s one Google Android goody that’s conspicuously missing, and that’s Photo Sphere, which lets you take a 360-degree panoramic image. A Samsung representative suggested that there may be a conflict with the Galaxy S4’s hardware capabilities, but we’ll need to confirm that’s the real reason for Photo Sphere’s absence.