Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G, an amazing mobile photography companion
I have been using the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G for a few weeks now, and boy was I surprised with how its cameras really improved from the previous generation. I have established this in my full review and firmly stand by my opinion about the quality of photos.
My experience with the S21 Ultra 5G’s camera capabilities begs a comparison versus other flagship devices. DxO Mark still has yet to publish the camera and selfie scores of the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G, so I thought that it would be nice to have a comparison shootout soon.
Today, let’s focus our attention to the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G. This is a deep-dive of its camera features and how I believe this will give you the information you need before you make your purchase decision. While I do not call myself an expert in photography, I hope that my consumer experience will help you decide. Unfortunately though, because of the usual quarantine measures, I need to squeeze my creativity further and take photos within the vicinity of my home studio. Rest assured that I’ll find time to take more photos outside Manila soon, and update this post accordingly.
Before anything else, here’s everything you need to know about the camera of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G:
|Front camera||40MP Phase Detection AF, FOV 80°, F2.2, 0.7 µm|
|Rear Camera||Telephoto 1: 10MP Dual Pixel AF, Optical 3x, FOV 35°, OIS, F2.4, 1.22µm, Telephoto 2: 10MP Dual Pixel AF, Optical 10x, FOV 10°, OIS, F4.9, 1.22µm, Ultra Wide: 12MP Dual Pixel AF, FOV 120°, F2.2, 1.4µm, Wide-angle: 108MP Phase Detection AF, FOV 83°, OIS, F1.8, 0.8µm|
Let’s have a drilldown of the camera specs.
You’re getting a 40MP selfie camera with phase detection autofocus. This means that you will be able to easily focus on your subject, your lovely or handsome face,without any issues even at low light scenarios. This is particularly the case with my experience when taking selfies.
You’ll also get a nice bokeh, which you can further tweak or add effects to using Portrait Mode. You can also choose your selfies to have a wider field of view.
Let’s move on to the rear camera, which received a lot of improvement from its predecessor. The Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G has 5 camera lenses with varying FOV and aperture specifications. One of the major changes is that it now has 2 telephoto lenses with diverse purposes. The first 10MP telephoto lens that can go 3x optical zoom has a 35° FOV, which is equivalent to a 240mm lens.
It has a max aperture of f/4.9. It’s not the brightest lens in the lot, but it aims to work hand in hand with other lenses to produce more defined zoomed-in photos. The second 10MP telephoto lens that can do a 10x optical zoom has a 10° FOV or 24mm. It’s the brightest between the two telephoto lenses too, having an aperture of f/1.8.
The beauty of these lenses is that they act as the phone’s AI’s footsoldiers when the user zooms into a particular subject. Whenever the user shoots and maximizes its zooming features, the AI analyzes if the subject is considered mid-range or long-range. Conversely, this feature also made the zoom-lock possible, which is by far my favorite feature. This makes things easier for you to zoom in to a specific subject.
You’re also getting an ultra-wide 12MP lens with a 120° FOV and f/2.2 aperture, and another 108MP lens with a 83° FOV and f/1.8 aperture. Both of these lenses have Dual Pixel AF. Here is the full layout of the rear camera.
Contrary to popular belief, the lens at the lower left is a 10MP Telephoto lens capable of 10x optical zoom, and not the main 108MP wide camera. You’ll be using the latter for your day to day photo shots, which promises great color detail and accuracy. In order to achieve this much megapixels, Samsung used the same nonabinning technique (9 x 12MP = 108MP) and threw in a dash of other improvements. This means that if you whip out your Galaxy S21 Ultra5G and shoot a subject, you’re using its 108MP Wide lens with a f/1.8 aperture. The results below show the quality you’re getting with this improved lens.
Let’s talk about the quality of their celebrated 100x zoom, which is the combined effort of the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G’s periscope lenses and AI. In order for me to show you how impressive this is, I took a photo of my screen using 2 devices. The combined images below were taken by Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G using its telephoto lens with digital zoom to 50x and 100x zoom. Pay attention to the sharpness of the pixels and see if there’s any unnecessary artifacts, which diminish the quality of the photos. Notice that the photos look very sharp and the contrast levels are very much on point.
Now take a look at the next photo that shows 50x zoom photos I took using the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (left) and another one that I took using another smartphone. Take note of the discoloration and inaccuracy of contrast levels of the second photo. Note that these photos were taken in similar conditions, and the difference seems to be emanating from the limitation of the sensors used on both devices.
I tried to zoom in to really far subjects and see how much we can stretch the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G’s cameras. Photos are still discernible but with significant drop in clarity and quality. Here are some sample photos. Will be adding more photos soon.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G truly offers versatility and empowers users to be more expressive and creative with their photos. As an amateur photographer, I have been enjoying the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G not just as a daily smartphone but my daily camera as well. No matter how cliche this sounds, the best camera is the one inside your pocket. I’m fortunate enough to have been given this chance to try this smartphone with camera features that are enough to make me better at what I do personally and professionally.
Giancarlo Viterbo is a Filipino Technology Journalist, blogger and Editor of gadgetpilipinas.net, He is also a Geek, Dad and a Husband. He knows a lot about washing the dishes, doing some errands and following instructions from his boss on his day job. Follow him on twitter: @gianviterbo and @gadgetpilipinas.