The Samsung Galaxy S7 is all the hype as the device keeps making its way around the world and it is all but guaranteed to be among the top-selling handsets of the year. There’s plenty to love about the new Samsung flagship, but we know plenty of you are more concerned about the Galaxy S7’s ability to fulfill those photo needs.
Best Android smartphone cameras (March 2016)
Samsung is known for releasing some of the best camera phones in the industry. Can the Galaxy S7 keep up? It’s certainly a good camera, so we thought we would take it for a stroll to The Broad Museum and Grand Central Market in LA. As stated in the video, every shot and clip seen here comes from the Samsung Galaxy S7. Let’s get to the details.
Best Android smartphone cameras (March 2016)
Let’s start with the front-facing camera
The front shooter does provide some good quality images. It is nice to use and is just wide enough for most shots. But those who want to add more people in can simply take advantage of the Wide Selfie mode.
One thing I didn’t like about the front-facing flash mode is that it still provides a somewhat harsh light. It is pretty much a bright screen, so it is not optimized for softening the light in order to make for a natural look.
Is there really a loss of sharpness?
Sadly, there is. I did some 100% crops in order to showcase that the new 12 MP main camera does fall behind in this department, when compared to its 16 MP counterparts.
That’s not to say the shots are bad, though. They are still plenty sharp, they’re just not as crisp as they used to be with the other sensors.
QHD recording on the front, 4K on the back
Now, one thing I did enjoy was that the Samsung Galaxy S7’s front-facing camera can record videos at QHD resolution. This is incredibly handy for anyone looking to vlog. In my case, it was helpful to know I could set the phone down and frame the image properly. It was simple to use the front-facing shooter and the phone’s screen as a guide, while still keeping a high resolution.
The rear camera is capable of recording at a higher 4K resolution. The only caveat here is that you do lose some cool functions when you turn this feature on. This includes the software-enhanced video stabilization, but OIS (optical image stabilization) does still tend to do a pretty good job.
Auto-focus in video
I do like taking advantage of auto-focus in video. It works great before taking a picture, but really stands out in videos, as it allows for a very clean way of focusing on a subject.
Why use Pro mode instead of just Auto
It is after stepping into a video installation when I realized this was the perfect environment to showcase the phone’s Pro mode and its advantages. After taking a picture of my brother looking at a screen, one can notice the Galaxy S7 is trying to expose for the whole frame. However, I would like to apply another effect and show more of a silhouette. Achieving this was as simple as going into Pro mode and speeding up the shutter.
Things get more lit as you move to the top floor of The Broad Museum. I decided to take advantage of Panorama mode and things looked quite great. One thing to point out is that, in the picture below, the gentleman in the hat was walking as I was panning from right to left to take the shot. The Galaxy S7 was able to stitch him just fine. There are no deformed body parts or blurry spots to be seen.
A bit on the sensor’s aspect ratio
You may notice these images are almost square, as opposed to adopting the 16:9 ratio most mobile screens tout. This is because I wanted to take full advantage of the 12 MP sensor, which is built with a 4:3 aspect ratio. The image would otherwise be cropped and information would be lost.
One weird thing I did notice is that by taking a photo in the 4:3 ratio and then hitting record, the video had a zoomed in effect. The camera had to zoom in and crop the sensor, so it seemed like everything was suddenly closer.
HDR is not something you should be using all the time, as it slows down the camera and the expected effect is not always noticeable. You can set HDR to auto and the phone will try and figure out when it’s right to use it, though. As you can see in the images, it is best to take advantage of it in high contrast situations in which one area of the photo is much more lit than others.
HDR – left. Non-HDR – right.
Looking at gorgeous art can be tiring, so it was time to head over to the busy Grand Central Market, where you can expect to wait for about four hours to get an egg. This is where Hyperlapse Mode was going to shine, so I jumped into action.
Hyperlapse Mode is pretty much a sped up video, but the phone does do some of the stabilization itself.
Handling lower light situations
It was here we were also able to see how images get warmer and less crisp as the light starts to become less dominant. Most whites looked more yellow, and my tasty burrito wasn’t as crisp due to the camera trying to compensate for noise.
I then took the phone to an even darker area. Trying to take images indoors was a bit more disappointing. Details get blown out and colors become less accurate. This is all to be expected, but I will say the photos are still good, thanks to the larger 1.4-micron pixels in the sensor.
The low-light performance of the S7 is so much better than it has been before, all things considered. You may get some blown out lights in high-contrast situations, but that is just something you will have to deal with.
Overall, The Galaxy S7 is a great shooter to have as a companion for your daily adventures. Sure, the details may not be as sharp, but that is something you will only notice if you are pixel peeping. On the other hand, you will really enjoy the much improved low-light performance and the overall general performance.
You can read more about the Galaxy S7 by checking out our review, but just know this is definitely a worthy camera. Is it the best? We will have to see. For now, hit the comments and let us know how you feel about these shots and videos.