Smartphone Photography: Samsung Galaxy S8

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When it comes to photography, nothing beats having a dedicated camera for functionality and image quality. Each year, DSLRs, high end compact cameras and Mirrorless cameras flood the market with new features and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. However, many people are exclusively using smartphones as an alternative. Why? Because they are a perfect solution for portability and convenience. I’ve been able to test out the camera of Samsungs latest flagship offering, the Galaxy S8. For a small module in the back of a phone, I’ve been thoroughly impressed with its capabilites. The following considers specifications,  a few photos that I’ve been able to capture and my likes/dislikes regarding the camera. 

Specifications 

Hardware –  For all of the spec geeks out there, the Galaxy S8’s 12 megapixel Camera has an aperture of f1.7 with optical image stabilisation. It also features ‘dual pixel’ technology where each individual pixel has phase detection capabilities for better and faster focus. Each individual pixel is a size of 1.4 microns which should let in more light than many other smartphone cameras and produce better image quality. 

Software – On the software side of things, the phone is factory set to auto-HDR. It captures three shots at a time and finds the best balance between highlights and shadows for and merges some of the features of each for a well balanced image. This mode also in theory prevents blur in your photos. There is a ‘pro mode’ for more seasoned photographers who want more control over their shots and a ‘food mode’ for those who like to take shots of what they eat. 

Anyway, enough of the technical stuff, here are the images I’ve been able to capture. 

The S8’s camera is able to capture plenty of detail in good lighting. The buildings in the far background appear sharp and well resolved.
Subjects that are moving fast are no problem for this little camera!

Auto – HDR means that scenes with high contrast, such as this one which had very bright clouds and dark buildings and water can still come out very well balanced.
The larger than usual pixel size of 1.4 microns means that low-light performance is reasonably better than many other smartphones. 
Despite the very dark background, the large range of colours in the light areas has been reproduced very well.
Sunrises/sunsets are also reasonably good.

The large f1.7 aperture means that you can isolate your subjects and blur out distracting backgrounds to a certain degree.
Plenty of detail can be found here whether it’s the blades of head or grooves in the bricks.
If you’re wondering what ‘Food mode’ looks like, here it is.

Final thoughts

As stated before. I have been impressed with the level of detail that this little camera produces. Smartphones have definitely surpassed most point and shoot cameras. However, no camera is without its weaknesses and this includes the Galaxy S8. 

Colour – Colours are vivid and punchy, but at times can come out a little too saturated. This is often an area of preference  I know, but there are times that you enjoy a scene because of the natural colours in the surrounding environment. It can be a little frustrating when they are altered unexpectedly . Editing software can fix this however.

Low light performance – Low light capabilities have vastly improved in Samsung cameras over the years and this remains true with the Samsung Galaxy S8. Still, it does not quite match that of a dedicated camera, and I have seen better results with the likes of the Google pixel and its predecessor, the Nexus 6P. 

No dual lens What was spearheaded by the likes of HTC and Huawei has now become commonplace with the likes of Apple and LG. There are benefits to having two lenses whether it is more light gathering capabilities, more zoom reach or subject isolation for portraits. It would be nice to see this feature on Samsung cameras as I believe they would be able to utilise this tool very well. I’m sure this is in the pipeline from rumours regarding the Galaxy Note 8 which will be announced later on this month. We will see.

I hope you enjoyed my review and samples of this great little tool. 

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