I was eagerly waiting for Samsung to announce the Galaxy S7 and as a photographer, I was even more excited to learn about the camera specs and see how well it works. I had a change to try out the S7 in Barcelona and I want to share my experience with you. Both the Galaxy S7 and the S7 edge have the same camera, but I spent more time with the S7 Edge because I really liked its curvy screen and design.
The phone itself feels great in the end, you feel the metal and the great finish in your hands. The S7 edge is thin and as you can see from the image, the camera bulge is almost not noticeable.
The phone UI works very smoothly without any noticeable lag. The camera app launches very fast and the UI is very intuitive. In the modes you have several shooting modes to choose from:
- Pro (Manual mode)
- Selective Focus
- Video Collage
- Live Broadcast
- Slow Motion
- Virtual Shot
The ‘Pro’ mode gives you the option toe manually and separately control the exposure compensation, shutter speed, ISO sensitivity level, White Balance, Autofocus and also apply effects and the option to choose one of three custom camera settings (Personalize) that you can assign yourself. Of course everything change you see immediately in real-time on the display, so it’s easy to achieve more creative results without relying on Auto mode to do everything for you.
I put the camera to shoot an image with front light. In auto mode I got an overall dark image, because the camera reduced the shutter speed to compensate for the over exposure from the center of the image. When I change to manual mode, I reduce the shutter speed and bump up the ISO a bit and achieved an overall better looking image that shows the buildings and people in the street.
One of the coolest features was the Motion Panorama and Virtual Shot. With virtual Panorama you take a regular Panorama shot by swiping the phone from left to right. But unlike a regular Panorama, when you view it on your device, you use the swipe motion to move to side to side, but instead of showing just a static view, it shows you it with motion, like a Panoramic video – really cool stuff and you can also convert it to a video. In the Virtual Shot mode, you circle the camera around an object and it creates a 3D presentation of the subject that you can view by swiping your finger to see the subject from different direction.
Motion Panorama off-screen sample video
Virtual Shot off-screen sample video
The Autofocus features was the one that I was most excited about. The Samsung Galaxy S7 is utilizing a Dual-Pixel AF technology. This means that all of its pixel server as phase-detection pixels. The AF performance was super fast, and focus between a close and far away subject took a split of a second, really fast. In Selective Focus shooting mode you tap an object less than 50 cm away to focus on it, then you tap the camera button to capture a shot.
The Camera offers various settings, including: changing the video resolution, Motion PHoto (“record a short video clip of what happens before each picture is taken”), set AF tracking on/off, enable or disable video stabilization, show grid lines, enable or disable location and date metadata for video and photos (Location Tags), Shooting Method (‘rear’ by default), Review pictures, open the camera by double tapping the start button, save RAW file alongside the JPEG, set the functionality of the volume bottom (take a picture by default), restore settings to defaults.
Regarding videos, you have the option to choose between several resolutions:
- UHD – 3840×2160
- QHD – 2560×1440
- FHD (60fps) – 1920×1080
- 1:1 – 1440×1440
- HD – 1280×720
- VGA – 640×480
When recording videos in UHD, QHD or FHD (60fps), you can’t use HDR (Rich tone), video effects or Tracking AF. That’s what the Video size (Rear) screen setting page says. Furthermore, Taking pictures will be unavailable white recording videos in FHD (60fps) resolution.
You have the option to choose between several picture sizes and aspect ratios:
- 4:3 (12M) – 4032×3024
- 4:3 (6.2M) – 2880×2160
- 16:9 (9.1M) – 4032×2268
- 16:9 (3.7M) – 2560×1440
- 1:1 (9.1M) – 3024×3024
- 1:1 (4.7M) – 2160×2160
My overall impressions with the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge camera was very positive. The camera isn’t bloat with too many features. The camera UI is not too cluttered and easy to operate. The AF focus is one of the key selling points of this phone, it works super fast for tracking subjects and quickly transition focus from one subject to the other.
*The camera test was done with a pre-production model so things might change after the final product is released.
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