Galaxy Note 4 Camera Image Quality and Sample images Analysis

October 6, 2014

Galaxy Note 4 rear camera

At the time of writing, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is just around the corner, yet, I’ve decided to take an early look at the specs and analyze some sample images already available in various websites. The expectations from the Note 3 replacement are high, especially for the Note 4 camera that should be even better than the Note 3 one.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 camera specs looks great. The rear camera is 31mm (35mm equivalent) F2.2 aperture with Smart OIS (Optical image stabilization). The sensor is 16MP 1/2.5-inch type BSI-CMOS utilizing ISCOCELL technology for improved image quality. We have a Dual LED and 4K Ultra HD video recording.

The front camera was also upgrades and is 3.7MP with a super fast F1.9 lens, supporting 90-degree selfie and 120-degree wide selfie mode. The Note 4 has fast AF performance and all on all it should improve the user experience with the photo capabilities of the phone.

It’s great to see that both the Note 4 front and main cameras have very fast aperture, which obviously yields stronger low-light performance than the previous model, and also puts the Note 4 as one of the most promising mobile phone cameras on the market. The rear lens itself is less wide that I personally want it to be, but for most people it will be adequate for most situations. Sometimes people prefer a less wide main camera to have less optical distortions. This is especially true when we take pictures of our loved ones. Because the Note 4 doesn’t have an optical zoom lens, therefore a compromise had to be made in order to pick up the most versatile field of view that is better for general photography.  The Apple iPhone 6 rear camera is for example is 29mm, slightly wider. I got 35mm equivalent focal length by inspecting the EXIF metadata of some Note 4 original size sample images (for camera Samsung SM-N910T aka Note 4).

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Note 3 rear view

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Note 3 rear side (click to view on

Note 4 Camera Image Quality

*based on a pre-production model. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 rear camera’s image quality is nothing but superb when tested in good lighting conditions.  You can check this gallery of sample images taken with the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 on Des Smith Google Plus page.  At ISO 40 (the base ISO) the image is remarkably sharp, and you can check it out yourself in this image. Even the tiniest detail at the pixel level is visible, no smearing. Even the details far from the camera and the complex details like in the bushes, all look just tack sharp. This is DSLR quality image quality, and I am speaking as a person that shoots mainly with a DSLR.

The colors are saturated but look very natural, and that gives the Note 4 images natural yet very pleasing vividness which make each photo interesting to watch.

Regarding distortions, yes, the distortions are there and are quite significant at the sides of the frame, but not too significant to make the image look weird. You can see at thee photo that I linked to, that the people on the right side appear quite natural although the that there is a distortion effect.

Front camera: Galaxy Note 4 and Note 3

Front camera: Galaxy Note 4 and Note 3

I usually check for images with sky to inspect the amount of noise in low ISO. There is a cityscape photo of New York shot at ISO40 which shows some degree of noise, but it’s relatively low. At the ISO50 sensitivity (The photo with the big poster of Destiny game on the building), you can see that the image is sharp, but with heavy distortions a the sides and good noise performance. If you look carefully at the shadow areas you can see that the noise is more prominent, maybe slightly high considering it’s ISO50, but nothing to be concerned about.

A word about the colors. I was just overwhelmed how beautiful the colors look on the Galaxy Note 4 samples.  I especially loved the red that look vivid but very natural.  The Note 4 light metering sensor does an incredible job and deals well with complex lighting conditions where there is a mix of shadow areas and bright areas at the same part of the frame being photographed. There is a photo with blown highlights in the sky, but still it still well controlled and with HDR you can eliminate it completely.

Even at ISO 500 you get a usable image, although chrome noise is all over the place. That said, the noise dotty noise patterns have low impact on the details and are easier to reduce in noise reduction software. I really enjoyed watching the Galaxy Note 4 sample images. When I shoot with my DSLR I get a much less processed image, but usually I perfect the image in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, trying to get it to look sharp and vivid, and in fact, close to what I see on the Note 4 out-of-the-box – Sharp and vivid image with uniform exposure. I have to admit that I never seen such a sharp image on a mobile phone, really impressive stuff.

I probably wouldn’t even worry too much about the Note 4 high ISO performance because with a f/2.2 aperture and the effective optical image stabilization you probably find it less needed to use high ISO speeds, but it’s there for those situations that the f/2.2 aperture just doesn’t cut it — especially for night shots.

Video Quality – Shooting in 4K

One of the highlights of the Galaxy Note 4 camera is its 4K Ultra HD (2160p) video recording function.

The video quality is amazing and if you have the chance to watch it on a 4K display you can really appreciate the details.  Of course the benefit of 4K is when watched on a 4K compatible display. If you don’t have one (it’s still expensive), you probably want to shoot at 4K to keep those valuable high-res memories for the time you do buy a 4K display, and still enjoy a high-resolution video on your Full HD display. Of course the Note 4 can also shoot at 1080p30, no just 2160p30 and other lower resolutions are also available.

Galaxy Note 4 Camera App UI

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 app is designed with simplicity in mind. You have the capture button with the camera icon at the bottom center, with the video recording button right next to it and the Mode button on the left. A single square button at the far left is for accessing the photo gallery to view your recent taken photos. At the other side of the screen is a settings button, HDR (on/off) button and a button to switch from the rear to the front camera and vice versa.

Here’s a list of the available options:

  • Camera shutter button (the one with the camera icon) – long press to burst shooting, up to 30 sequential frames.
  • Video button (The one with the camcorder icon) – press to start recording a video, changes to stop button to stop recording
  • Mode button – choose the appropriate shooting mode (e.g. Panorama, Selective focus, Rear-cam selfie, Auto, download additional modes from an online source and manage them using the “Manage modes” option)
  • Settings button (with the gears icon) – like in many other smartphone cameras, allows you to shoot the flash mode (auto/off/on), choose image resolution (16:9 default, optional: 4:3 [two options], 1:1, 16:9, set timer, apply image effects (e.g. faded colour, vintage, no effect, sepcia, tint, etc.). You also have the option to download more effects and manage them as well.
    Other options include: exposure value, ISO sensitivity, White Balance, Metering modes, HDR (on/off), Tap to take pics (one click snapshot), video size, recording mode, video stabilization, location tags, storage location, grid lines, voice control, The volume key and reset settings button.
  • HDR (on/off) button
  • Button to switch between the cameras (switching to selfie mode)
  • Gallery access button – there you can apply various types of image effects to make your image look at its best and the way you like it to be
Note 4 also has two selfie mode for the front camera: a 90 degree shooting angle and the second wider of 120-degree wide angle. The wider field of view allows capturing mode area to fit into the frame, which is of course better for selfies or groupfies (selfie with other other people / group shot)

PhoneArena has made an excellent video demonstrating all of those features, so take a look at the video below to get a better feeling of the Galaxy Note 4 camera app and its user interface.

The great thing about the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 camera is that you have a gorgeous 2560×1440 pixels (Quad HD) 5.7 inch Super AMOLED display to enjoy looking at your photos and high-res videos. This multiplies the photo experience of your phone, and probably one of the reasons that the Note 4 is so attractive to photo enthusiasts. The combination of a superb display and fully-featured high-quality camera makes the Note 4 stand out from the crowed.

The super high 370ppi pixel density ensured that your photos and videos will look ultra crisp, not visible pixels whatsoever. Regardless of the amazing camera, the Note 4 is a superb phone with 8-core processor , 3GB RAM, 32 built-in storage, super fast graphics processor (ARM Mali-T760), stylus and it has a great design and tons of other features.

The Note 4 will certainly give other flagships a good deal of competition. It’s interesting to see how the Note 4 cope against the iPhone 6 Plus in DxOMark and other side by side comparisons. The Note 4 certainly worth a look, not just for its incredible camera.

What’s your opinion? — Please share your thoughts about the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 in the comment section below. Thanks for reading and please don’t forget to LIKE and share this article if you enjoy reading it.

*this post will be updated when the device is officially released.

Also check out the Note 4 vs Note 3 size comparison on

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  • Charles

    Great review!

    What about the Optical Image Stabilization? Can you use it while shooting video, or just still pictures? If video, how well does it perform?