It might seem as if Samsung has compromised with the Samsung Galaxy Alpha's 12-megapixel camera. After all, the Samsung Galaxy S5 has a 16-megapixel example.
That may well be the case, but the Galaxy Alpha still turns out some truly excellent images. Just as importantly, it's a joy to handle. Not only is it fast to focus and snap, but you don't have to work hard or fiddle with settings to get decent results either - just point and shoot.
Of course, when you do delve into the Alpha's camera settings, you'll find plenty to play with. Ever-present on the main camera interface is a toggle for an accomplished HDR mode, for those high-contrast or shady images. You also get a selective focus mode that accentuates a close-up (50cm or less) object by blurring out the background.
The mode even lets you switch between focusing on the foreground or background after the picture has been taken. In truth, you can get a decent enough depth of focus effect in general use without needing to switch to this artificial method, which takes a little too much framing and a considerable amount of time to process. That's more a testament to the Alpha's fine camera than it is a criticism of a gimmicky mode, though.
Elsewhere you get the same extras as the Galaxy S5 and others in the Samsung range, including Beauty face (for smoothing off those wrinkles and spots) and a streamlined Shot & More mode. The latter is where you can apply various effects and post-processing options such as Best photo, Best face, erasing unwanted objects and merging multiple shots into an action photo.
As with elsewhere in its TouchWiz UI, Samsung has cleaned up and simplified its camera UI significantly to the point where it's actually quite intuitive to use.
As noted above, you also get 4K video recording here, which provides footage with four times the pixel count of 1080p Full HD. The Galaxy Alpha handles this without batting an eyelid, although you lose the ability to do extra things like taking still snaps while you're recording, so Samsung has understandably stuck with the more flexible 1080p mode as the default.