The Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 comes with a 5MP primary camera and a 0.3MP front-facer, just like the Galaxy Ace 2. While it's hard to expect much from a budget range device like the Ace 3, from a hardware standpoint you're not getting anything better than the Galaxy Ace 2 in this department, and that's a device more than a year and a half old.
The viewfinder handles both still and video capture, so you don't have to switch modes. However, this is certainly not the most convenient solution - if you're shooting full resolution 5MP photos, you'll have to frame your videos using a 4:3 viewfinder.
The settings are found in two places. The first is the Mode button under the shutter key. It brings up a carousel with different shooting modes, each with a descriptive image and text. When you get familiar with those modes, you can switch to the grid, which drops the text but is faster.
In the upper left corner, there are a couple of quick settings plus an arrow to reveal more options. The arrow at the bottom of the screen brings up a row of color effects. Each effect gets a live preview, so you can see what the particular scene will look like with it.
There are more settings in the top left corner, but they won't be very often used. Still, there a number of interesting options here like having the volume rocker act as a still shutter key, a video shutter key or a zoom lever. Another interesting option is contextual file names - the Galaxy Ace 3 will name photos with your location (the GPS needs to be on for this to work).
Let's go over the different modes. There are standard modes like Panorama, Night, and Sports. Panoramas are nice, they do a full 360° circle, but the resolution is not that impressive.
Sound & shot captures a photo and records ambient sound. It sounds pretty cool - for example, you can hear the sea gulls in a beach photo or the roar of car engines at a race.
Photos tend to have a high contrast setting and thus usually result in overblown highlights in bright areas. In areas of mixed lighting, it becomes evident that the dynamic range isn't that great either. The colors are accurate as is the exposure, but there are clear signs of an overly-aggressive oversharpening filter that brings in a lot of noise.
The Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 stores videos in MP4 files with a bitrate of 12Mbps on average. Audio is recorded in mono at 62Kbps and a sampling rate of 48kHz.
Touch focus is available before and during video recording and you can switch back to continuous autofocus if you prefer. You can capture 720p still images during recording, and the samples come out with the same quality as the video.
Videos captured with the Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 very poor resolved detail, even for a non 1080p camera. There's the same issue with high contrast which results in a white-ish haze over the images, which also detracts from the level of detail. Colors are otherwise good and the framerate is a solid 30fps. We would have liked stereo audio, though.
Here's a video sample we uploaded to YouTube.
Here is also an untouched video sample from the Galaxy Ace 3 that you can download directly - 720p @ 30fps(0:08s, 12.2MB).
You can also take a closer look at the quality of the Samsung Galaxy Ace 3's videos and how they stack up against other devices in our Video quality compare tool.