The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra has finally arrived in our hands and we are just getting started testing it, but one thing we were eager to do right away is take a look at the performance of that brand new camera.
And not just during any time, but we took the camera of the S20 Ultra on a walk at night when light is scarce and smartphone cameras have the toughest time capturing a good image.
The S20 Ultra had an additional challenge: it features a folded, periscope zoom lens that allows zooming 10X using Hybrid Optic zoom, and up to 100X digitally. How did it perform in low-light? Let’s take a look!
Zoom, zoom, zoom
As you can see having so many cameras and options meant we have a lot of shots, but if you want to have the most versatile camera with you that is hardly a downside. Looking at the images, we are genuinely impressed with the performance of the zoom cameras. We have shot the same scene with other smartphones and what you got on them was a blurry mess, while the Ultra keeps things extremely clean and sharp. Samsung uses a lot of denoising algorithms to smoothen the image, but the result is impressive: at 10X zoom the quality is quite clear and while it starts to fall apart after that, you can still easily read the signs at 30X digital zoom. Zooming all the way to a 100X seems like an overkill, though, as the quality really takes a turn for the worse at that level.
We repeated the test with a different subject: this sea horse fish ornament in a building. Zooming 5X and 10X yields a image that looks surprisingly good. You can see the aggressive noise reduction at 30X and then, the image at 100X is just for show and not really something you would want to share.
Samsung has also improved the Night Mode option that allows you to shoot long exposures, combined with short ones and some AI smarts, so that you end up gathering more light and ultimately getting a brighter image at night.
Night Mode now resides in the more menu and it’s still not automatic, something that we do regret as we are honestly not quite sure when should we use it and when it’s better not to. For example, this poorly lit street seemed like a perfect case scenario for Night Mode, but we were surprised to see a long, 8-second wait for the image. The end result was brighter, yet, but it also has slightly strange colors and we are not sure if we wouldn’t actually prefer the more realistic photo we took without Night Mode.
This statue was also in the dark and seemed like a good case for Night Mode. Again, we had to wait a long 8 seconds to get the image. This seems excessive and might turn off a lot of users from using this option often. We knew we were a bit discouraged and found counting down the seconds in our mind while trying to hold the phone still. The result is a better looking image this time, but again with a slightly strange look to it. You be the judge.
Selfies on the S20 Ultra appear a lot sharper than before and we love the colors and the detail.
You can also use night mode in selfies and here it proved quite useful: my face was in the dark and the first image was not one I would use, while the second one with the night mode was definitely an improvement.
We will be updating this article with additional images. Stay tuned for more S20 Ultra content in the coming days!
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