Mon. Feb 24th, 2020

So are the new cameras of the Samsung Galaxy S20, S20 + and S20 Ultra


Samsung has once again bet heavily on giving its phones its high-end, the new Galaxy S20, with a camera system that wants to go ahead of the competition. To achieve this, not only has the components of this improved significantly compared to the previous generation. More powerful processors are also incorporated than those of the previous generation, this will allow more sophisticated operations of image processing through algorithms. And things like allow record video in 8K.

In fact this is one of the most striking novelties of the three Galaxy S20 that have been presented in San Francisco: the S20, S20 + and S20 Ultra. The company seems to want to open doors to provide audiovisual content to its 8K TVs. Although many will prefer not to use this recording system because of the size of the files it can generate, this enormous resolution dilutes to a certain extent the boundaries between video and photography. We can take pictures while recording video with a surprising resolution: 33 megapixels, which is the size of an 8K frame.









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Samsung seems to have made its three phones to record 8K video in a somewhat convoluted way. In the case of the S20 Ultra, its 108 megapixel sensor has plenty of resolution to achieve this. The disconcerting thing is that in the main camera of the S20 and S20 + it has a resolution of 12 megapixels. Very far from the 33 megapixels that the phone needs to record 8K video.

To achieve video recording in 8K, the camera sensor for zooming on the two most basic models has been used. This camera has 64 megapixels. This is probably why the angle of view that the main camera, 76 degrees, and the one dedicated to zoom, 79 degrees, captures by default, is almost the same.



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This maneuver has led Samsung to have to provide its S20 and S20 + phones with a digital zoom. The terminals will have to be tested calmly to see the quality of the images produced by that zoom, but to date no camera has achieved a purely digital or hybrid zoom that achieves the quality of a real optical zoom.

The four-magnification optical zoom, which captures a viewing angle equivalent to a 100mm telephoto lens, is reserved for the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. Although the camera dedicated to this zoom has optical stabilization, a success, its luminosity is very poor: f / 3.5. Even if Samsung has performed feats with computational photography algorithms, everything seems to indicate that the image quality of photos and videos using the zoom should fall quite a bit in low light situations. Something that on the other hand is what we have observed in other terminals with a long-range optical zoom. Another thing to be checked calmly in a test.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
(EP)







Using the hybrid digital zoom the S20 Ultra model achieves a 10x zoom. Although this can stretch up to 100 increases (to 30 increases in the other two models). However, this extreme digital zoom only seems useful for observing a distant object (as if we were using binoculars). Well, its image quality must be very poor for use in photography and video.

The biggest successes we see on the paper in the cameras of these phones are that Samsung has opted to increase the size of the pixels of the image sensors compared to those of most of the competition, something that is almost always synonymous with better quality of image; camera lenses have been equipped with bright and stabilized lenses (with the sole exception of the ultra wide angle camera); and the S20 + and S20 Ultra models have a depth chamber (ToF).

The 108 megapixel camera of the Galaxy S20 Ultra is designed to use pixel stacking technology.

The 108 megapixel camera of the Galaxy S20 Ultra is designed to use pixel stacking technology.
(Jeff Chiu / AP)







When we tried the Galaxy S10 Plus 5G, which already had one of these depth chambers, we observed its potential. If we use the portrait mode to simulate a short depth of field, which emphasizes the subject of the image with respect to the background, the quality was superior to that of phones that do not have these cameras. And not only when taking photos. Also when recording video.

The front camera of the Galaxy S20 and S20 Plus is limited to 10 megapixels. This contained resolution seems good news to achieve images with a good level of detail if the image sensor is not too large. The lens, which does not have image stabilization, captures an angle of view of 80 degrees and has a brightness of f / 2.2. Very in line with previous models.

Being able to film in 8K is one of the main novelties of the new Samsung Galaxy S20.

Being able to film in 8K is one of the main novelties of the new Samsung Galaxy S20.
(Jeff Chiu / AP)




In the case of the Galaxy S20 Ultra, the resolution of the front camera rises to 40 megapixels, although it uses pixel stacking technology for larger virtual pixels. By reducing the resolution to 10 megapixels, better photos should be achieved in low light. In the objective the other specifications of the other two models are maintained.



By the way, this pixel stacking technology is what explains the high image resolution of some of the cameras of the different models: 108 megapixels in the case of the main camera of the S20 Ultra, 64 megapixels in the case of the intended camera to the zoom of the other two models and 48 megapixels in the camera destined to zoom in the Galaxy S20 Ultra. Although these high resolutions are also used to achieve hybrid zoom.

The different models have very different components when taking pictures.

The different models have very different components when taking pictures.
(Michael Short / Bloomberg L.P. Limited Partnership)




What we have seen today is that Samsung has launched the S20 and S20 + with cameras with a technology that is not groundbreaking, but that looks good for the technical characteristics that have been released. The biggest leap in innovation when capturing photos is, by far, the Galaxy S20 Ultra. And not only because of the exorbitant megapixel figures of its image sensors.



The interesting thing about this model is that it achieves a balance between quality components in the cameras, but without neglecting that it is capable of making all kinds of improvements in the images thanks to its enormous computing power. Although its price, which ranges between 1,359 and 1,559 euros, makes it an accessible product for a few.


The biggest leap in innovation when capturing photos is, by far, the Galaxy S20 Ultra



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