Apple IPhone 8 Plus Vs. Samsung Galaxy Note8 Full Camera Shootout: HDR, Low-light Stills

By 12:57 Wed, 18 Aug 2021 Comments


HDR mode

HDR. Samsung has buried the toggle in the settings, making reviewers' lives miserable and users' less aware of what's happening with their photos. Anyway, it's what it is.

Both the iPhone 8 Plus and the Galaxy Note8 have three positions in their HDR settings - Auto, Off and On. The incompatibility is that when the iPhone is in Auto, and it decides that the scene requires HDR, it'll go ahead and apply it at full blast, just as if you had turned it On.

Not so with the Note8. HDR Auto on Samsungs isn't as strong as HDR On, but then again, Samsungs do give you a live preview in the viewfinder, so you know what you're getting before even taking the shot.





HDR samples, Galaxy Note8, wide-angle camera: HDR off • HDR auto • HDR on





HDR samples, Galaxy Note8, wide-angle camera: HDR off • HDR auto • HDR on





HDR samples, Galaxy Note8, wide-angle camera: HDR off • HDR auto • HDR on





HDR samples, Galaxy Note8, wide-angle camera: HDR off • HDR auto • HDR on

On the flipside, the iPhone can be set to hold a regular photo alongside the HDR shot, so you can choose the keeper later on.





HDR samples, iPhone 8 Plus, wide-angle camera: HDR off • HDR auto (did not engage) • HDR on





HDR samples, iPhone 8 Plus, wide-angle camera: HDR off • HDR auto (did engage) • HDR on





HDR samples, iPhone 8 Plus, wide-angle camera: HDR off • HDR auto (did not engage) • HDR on





HDR samples, iPhone 8 Plus, wide-angle camera: HDR off • HDR auto (did engage) • HDR on

The two phones' HDR algorithms are configured somewhat differently. While the Galaxy will salvage some of the highlights, it's mostly in the shadows that you're likely to see the biggest difference. The iPhone, on the other hand, tends to be more highlight-friendly and will preserve detail in clouds better.







HDR samples, HDR on: iPhone 8 Plus • Galaxy Note8 • iPhone 8 Plus • Galaxy Note8

In any case, we'd be excited leaving the phones in HDR Auto mode all the time. That's what Samsung wants you to do anyway, and on the iPhone you acquire the benefit of having both the HDR and non-HDR shot.

Low-light stills

In low light, with the primary camera, the Galaxy Note8 has a distinct edge, be it thanks to the larger sensor or more mature noise suppression, or likely both. The Note's photos are sharper, with more detail and, at the same time, less noise. The Samsung phone also tends to retain color better, while the iPhone's already more muted hues lose saturation even further.







Low-light samples, wide-angle camera: iPhone 8 Plus • Galaxy Note8 • iPhone 8 Plus • Galaxy Note8







Low-light samples, wide-angle camera: iPhone 8 Plus • Galaxy Note8 • iPhone 8 Plus • Galaxy Note8

And here are side-by-side close-ups of the lower center portion of the above images.


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