Manual Shutter Speed Adjustment on Galaxy Note 5 and S6 edge+

Car trailing light slow shutter speed effect

In the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 edge+ you no have the option to manually adjust the shutter speed when enabling the ‘Pro’ mode. This mode is new to these two phones and it gives people more control over the the exposure, allowing them to achieve different artistic results.

This video by PhoneArena show the Note5 and S6 edge+ Camera UI and that Pro mode features:

As you can see, there is an option to adjust the shutter speed from 10 seconds to a maximum of 1/24,000 sec, possible because of the electronic shutter. You can also adjust the ISO, white balance and other camera settings. So why having to manually adjust the shutter speed is so important?

Having the option to adjust shutter speed is important because it’s one of the three cameras settings that allows you to control the exposure. The other settings are ISO sensitivity and aperture. The Note 5 and S6 edge+, like many other smartphone cameras, have a fixed aperture size, which means you cannot adjust it. So you are left with only the ISO and the shutter speed. In many phones you don’t have the option to adjust the shutter speed, or at least not directly. You either given the option to adjust the ISO (increase it, which will results in more image noise) or change the ‘exposure’, which controls the shutter speed behind the scenes.

The problem is that you don’t have a direct control over the shutter speed. You can increase the exposure, and the camera will either increase the ISO and reduce the shutter speed, depends on how it was programmed to work. Given direct control over the exposure allows you to achieve unique image effects that are just impossible to achieve with semi-automatic camera, a camera that doesn’t give you full manual control over the exposure.

For example, you intentionally use to lower the shutter speed to produce light painting effects. You can decide to use much lower shutter speed to get an optimal exposure in low-light without increasing the ISO value. For example, if you are shooting with the phone on a stable surface or a tripod, you can use a shutter speed of a few seconds to allow the camera to capture a shot in complete darkness. Without manual shutter adjustment option, you’ll be left with a very dark or completely black image due to insufficient lighting. This is probably a good reason to use a tripod or a mini tripod just to get some very creative low-light images.

Westminster at night august 10 2014

This open a whole new world of creative possibilities that aren’t available without this option.  I can give you another good example when it’s useful. You can intentionally use a slower shutter speed to produce the effect of motion. For example, if you want to capture a fast-moving car in motion at night showing light trails like the image above, you need to shoot a very slow shutter speed, probably the slowest possible which is 10 seconds. Without manual camera settings it would been impossible; well, unless there is a unique scene mode that reduce the shutter speed to minimum to allow such photo to be captures.

Just keep in mind that you need to make the Note 5 or S6 edge+ be on a very stable surface to achieve a sharp image. The optical image stabilization won’t help you here, as the shutter speed had to be opened for a few seconds to achieve that result.

This also works the other way around. You can intentionally use a very fast shutter speed to stop motion. In most phone cameras the camera algorithm is set to use the fastest shutter speed possible in order to produce sharp images. However, in some situations, you might want to use an even faster shutter speed and use a much higher ISO to better freeze fast-moving subjects. Without the ‘Pro’ mode, the optimal settings probably would results in a slightly blurry subject. But if you have total control over the exposure and you don’t mind using a very high ISO sensitivity and image noise, you can set the ISO to the maximum available and use a very fast shutter speed value.  By having the option to choose the shutter speed manually, you can assure that you subject will be freezed in motion, even at the cost of underexposed image (which can be later fixed in post photo editing), especially considering that you can shoot in RAW in Pro Mode.

So The Manual shutter speed option in the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 allows Note5 and S6 edge plus owners to have total control over the exposure and be more creative with what they can achieve with the camera.  We certainly going to see more creative images coming out from this camera on Flickr and other social image sharing websites and make you love taking pictures even more.