The similarities between the Galaxy J7 (2017) and last year's Galaxy J7 Prime run pretty deep, so much so that both devices use the Sony IMX258 sensor for their 13 MP main cameras. However, this time around it is positioned behind a much brighter f/1.7 lens. While the particular sensor is rather uncommon within Samsung's own lineup, it is fairly popular overall. It powers a few pretty strong camera experiences, like the LG G6, Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 and Sony Xperia XA.
Rounding out the package is a simple single LED flash - perfectly adequate for a budget (somewhat) device. It you were hoping for OIS to eventually trickle down to the lower end of Samsung's lineup, the J7 (2017) hasn't managed to break that barrier. Come to think of it, even this year's A-series Galaxy devices lacked the stabilization of their predecessors, so we can't really expect miracles from the J7 (2017) in this respect.
What has trickled down, however is the new UX, which includes the camera interface. There are a few changes here and there, but nothing really substantial. The traditional Samsung quick-launch, home button double-tap is still present and is now complemented in the usability department by new swipe gestures.
Swiping down will switch between the front and back camera. Left brings up a panel with filters (no download option, though). Right lands you on a shooting mode selector. All pretty convenient, at least at first glance.
There is an issue worth noting here, and it has to do with HDR. For one, it can only be turned ON or OFF manually. An auto HDR mode would have been greatly appreciated. Even worse, toggling its state requires a swipe and a tap, since the main camera interface only has a flash shortcut.
A Pro mode is present too, though that's clearly a huge overstatement - you get control over exposure compensation, ISO and white balance presets, plus a metering mode selector, but no manual focus and no manual shutter speed. Not really the "Pro" we were hoping for.
Settings are sparse as well, but at least all the basics are covered. So many manufacturers still don't offer straight-forward resolution controls, so we almost view it as an extra on the J7 (2017).
A dedicated video mode and viewfinder would have been a nice touch.
In terms of quality, the J7 (2017) camera can be best described as "average". Don't get us wrong though, it is a perfectly satisfactory and adequate experience for a budget-friendly device. Detail is plentiful and colors look nice, albeit a little toned down. Noise is pretty low overall, but there are also noise suppression artifacts here and there, especially around edges. We also observed some corner softness.
Despite having a bright f/1.7 lens, the Galaxy J7 (2017) tends to underexpose photos quite often. Its dynamic range is a bit narrow as well, which results in a lot of detail lost in the shadows and to a lesser extent - clipped highlights. HDR is pretty laid-back, but still helps remedy the situation most of the time. It does what it promises without much drama - shadows get a modest boost, and some detail in the highlights is salvaged, adding up to a very natural-looking image. Some might prefer a little less subtlety here. In high-contrast scenarios you might be wise to take a shot in normal and HDR mode, just in case.
Panorama samples are surprisingly good. Resolution is plenty and the level of detail is easily comparable to that of stills. Also, there are virtually no stitching defects or artifacts.
You can also do some pixel-peeping in our photo compare tool and see how the J7 (2017) stacks up against the competition.
The Galaxy J7 (2017) has a pretty impressive 13MP selfie shooter up on offer, on paper at least. It is a f/1.9 unit, which does, overall, look deceptively similar to the rear one in numbers alone. However, as you can imagine this is not the case. For one, the front-facer lacks autofocus. This is quite normal and typically a non-issue on most devices, since they are intended to focus at roughly an arm's length.
However, just like a few other recent Galaxy devices, the J7 (2017) seems to be exhibiting some weird focusing issues. It is almost as if focus is locked at a much shorter distance than normal. However, we can't really say for sure that this is the cause of the problem. The perfect focus plain is very shallow and we often found ourselves missing it in both directions. The Galaxy A5 (2017) and A7 (2017) have similar issues, but we are yet to pinpoint the exact culprit.
The camera app offers a few beautify selfie filters, but they do tend to take things a bit overboard. Use them moderately or avoid altogether.
Low-light performance on the J7 (2017) selfie cam is actually pretty good. Noise is kept at bay and the front-facing flash should really come in handy for all those nighttime Snapchats the kids are into these days.
The Galaxy J7 (2017) can capture videos at up to 1080p and 30fps. The lack of 4K is currently the norm at this price point, so, we can't realistically ask for more. Furthermore, the J7 (2017) makes pretty good use of the hardware it has.
Clips get saved in a standard MP4 format, with overall bitrate holding steady at around 17 Mbps, an AVC video stream and an accompanying AAC audio one. The latter is captured in stereo at 48 KHz - pretty standard.
The FullHD video output is good, with nice levels of detail and low noise. Colors are rendered quite well too. Perhaps, they could be a bit more saturated, though once again you're better off looking at the Video compare tool to get a better idea. Audio, by the way, is surprisingly clear, and it can't be down to just the bitrate.
You can also download an unedited sample (10s, 22MB) to avoid any possible YouTube compression.
Last, but not least, here are a few links to the J7 (2017) in our video compare tool. Feel free to pit it against any other device we have in our database.