Latest posts by Ahmad Imran (see all)
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This review is carried out on my personal device, the Galaxy S8+ (SM-G955F) which is bought in the UK and running Android version 7.0 and Samsung Experience version 8.1. It is written with a common user in mind and based on my personal photography skills which are not PRO by any stretch of imagination.
Samsung does one thing very well in its flagship Androids.
There is no doubt that generally, the camera experience on its Galaxy range is above average for the last few years. And I believe that it is one of the strong points and a big contributing factor in its success as a top player in this market.
So how does the main camera perform in the S8 Plus (or S8) that Samsung released in 2017?
I have been using the Galaxy S8+ for over a month and had a chance to take hundreds of photos with its main camera as a common user. I am ready to share my views in this article to give you a flavour and feedback if you want to know more about the S8+ camera quality.
Remember, this review is for the main camera only. I have excluded the video performance and the the front camera (selfie taker) to keep it focused on the sheer quality of the still images taken with this phone. All photos are taken in “auto mode” and no editing software is used to manipulate the pictures.
The following 6 headings are the key areas which contribute to my overall user experience of the S8+ main camera. You will see my final rating that I have given to its camera in concluding paragraphs of this article.
Let us explore.
In the competition where many manufacturers are opting for the dual-camera setup, Samsung has stayed with a single 12-megapixel camera sensor at the back.
It is a decent and fast f/1.7 lens which is made by Sony (or Samsung itself depending on where you get your device from).
On the design front for camera use, there is nothing too fancy to highlight. It is not awkward to handle.
S8+ is a slender aspect ratio device (2:1 roughly) and the camera sits in the top half in the middle. The phone itself feels tall and the overall footprint is largish for small hands. Don’t forget we are talking 6.2 inches of display screen here.
There is no dedicated hardware button for camera – I hope that Samsung considers this option for future as the Sony devices have it as a standard feature for a long time.
Finally, the bright AMOLED screen is complimentary to the camera experience. Everything looks sharp and rich and perhaps sometimes, extra vivid and extra saturated which is not good (for real life feel) but for many, it is pleasing and satisfying.
Overall, Samsung has stuck to the basics.
I wish the camera sensor was either a 16 or 20 megapixels but never mind. It is just nice to have high resolution pictures taken with a good smartphone camera as it gives more options if we need to print them out on bigger sizes in future.
The Samsung’s out-of-the-box camera app is to-the-point, quick and effective.
There is minimal bloat and all the settings and important features are in their expected places for a common user. I mostly shoot in auto mode so don’t need many settings to play around with but if you are into manual settings, you can easily switch to pro mode anytime.
There is one setting which I am mostly interested in and that is the brightness. It is right there on every shooting screen with a simple slider which brightens or darkens the frame as and when required.
It is worth mentioning that the default app only allows 4:3 ratio for pictures at full 12 megapixels resolution. If you want 16:9 ratio, you will need to drop the resolution further down to 9 megapixels.
Keep in mind that the picture taking with the S8/+ camera is very fast. An important factor for many simple shooters like me. Thanks to its fast f/1.7 lens and software optimisation, there is a very little delay between taking two consecutive photos.
All in all, an excellent app by Samsung.
The emphasis is on camera user experience with both a common and a pro user in mind. To the point options and does the job extremely well.
And yes, one niggle to mention as well. The Bixby.
I don’t think that the Bixby Intelligence feature is fully cooked yet. It would have been nicer to include it as an option to turn it on if someone is really keen to go and explore it. Otherwise, lesser bloat is always welcome.
Bright (or enough) light is a common scenario where a flagship smartphone camera should not under-perform.
It is a given in the user’s mind that he will get crisp results generally with a few exceptions. And having taken many photos with my S8+ under this category, it has revealed the same results for me.
Solid, generally well focused, well exposed and rich in colours and details. There are two observations I would like to put forward.
1 – Although the pictures gave a very slight hint of vividness in colours, the overall feel remained natural and real-life.
2- The pictures in bright lighting did give a slightly darker tone on a few occasions in auto mode. The work around is to use the brightness slider at the time of taking the picture and it should improve the results.
Here are a few samples to give you an idea.
So well done Samsung for maintaining the standards.
We do not expect a slippage on this important factor.
A lot of work and emphasis have been put into the low light smartphone photography.
Flagships have come a long way in night time and low light camera performance and Samsung has shown the same intent in the S8 camera results. Don’t forget that it is a tricky area for small sensors to manage and a lot depends on the software manipulation and handling (HDR etc.) once the picture is taken.
S8+ produced above average results in medium to low light conditions.
The optical image stabilisation (OIS) did a decent job and generally, the evening and night shots came out to be well acceptable.
Let us have a look at a few sample shots first and I will explain my observations after that.
A few observations.
1 – S8+ camera did not overuse the higher ISO values lavishly. It tried to keep realistic colours and tones which made the night shots pleasant and without too much noise and image-blur.
2 – The image stabilisation in low light shots worked well behind the scene. I had all the images taken with HDR on auto mode and let the camera to decide and pick the right exposure.
3 – If the brightness is on the lower side in very dark conditions, use the brightness slider while taking the photo to light up the things to your requirement.
Overall, I am happy with the results and class it as a consistent performance by the S8+ camera in medium to low lighting conditions. It is a pain point for many smartphone camera users and Samsung has addressed it well in the S8 range.
Another tick in the box.
I love macros and details.
I frequently take my smartphone camera within 6 inches of the object to capture finer details. I won’t call them macros (strictly) but they are more like close-up shots. Generally taken about 4 or 5 inches away from the main object to shoot.
The S8+ camera impressed me with its close-up still shots.
The amount of depth and sharpness of colours were excellent and the camera consistently managed to focus the object well and blur the rest of the background generally. When I manually zoomed in on a few close-ups, I found that a decent amount of detail relative to a 12-megapixel sensor was retained in each shot.
I felt like I had a smartphone in my pocket which is a very good point and shoot camera as well.
I preferred to use it as my main camera for my daughter’s small birthday party and didn’t bother to take the dust off my Nikon’s SLR. There is a hint for big camera makers here. A common user is definitely shifting more and more to smartphones for day to day snapshots.
The S8+ camera is not the best in the market and I am only saying this because I have a read a few reviews of the Google Pixel 2 camera which apparently outshines most of the competition in early 2018. But other than that, rest assured, it is still a great and solid camera for amateurs and common users.
If you want a deep analysis of the S8/S8+ camera with all the technicalities, DxOMark has covered it in further detail.
If you are generally relaxed with your photography needs and don’t class yourself as a critic in mobile cameras, S8 range will please and surprise you with its good quality results.
It will get my 8.5 out of 10 for overall camera experience – feels extremely good. A similar rating that I gave to S7 Edge last year.
If you have any specific question about the camera in S8 or S8+, let me know and I will try to answer.
Otherwise, if you have used the S8/+ camera yourself, what are your thoughts and feedback for us.