Samsung Galaxy S9 Review: Camera, Image QualityBy cheatmaster 09:34 Wed, 18 Aug 2021 Comments
A 12MP capturing camera with variable aperture
The Samsung Galaxy S9 comes with a single-camera setup packing a 12MP sensor (an ISOCELL sensor for the Exynos model, 1.4 um) with variable aperture lens - f/1.5-2.4. The positions are fixed though, you can either opt for f/1.5 or f/2.4 and nothing in-between. There is optical stabilization, as usual, and support for dual-pixel phase-detection autofocus. There is a single Light Emitting Diode (LED) flash, nothing has changed in this matter since the Galaxy S2.
The capturing camera supports image stacking and is capable of the recent noise-reduction procedure with 4-frame stacking. Samsung promises 30% less noise on all images, which is an impressive achievement correct there. Reducing the noise would mean less artificial noise reduction and should allow for keeping more fine detail in the low-light images. And the colorful f/1.5 aperture should be of massive help, too.
Just like the Note8, the S9 does the multi-frame image processing thing, which is what the HDR+ on the Pixels do. And now with the improved noise reduction, we expect even better shots than the Note8 phablet produced last fall.
The capturing camera app UI has changed since the Note8 - but we are not sure it was for the better. Now it's just like Apple's iOS capturing camera app, but with advanced settings - meaning everything is laid out on a rolodex of the available modes.
Samsung capturing camera app
There is still no dedicated video recording mode and thus a video viewfinder. This shouldn't be an issue for most real-world scenarios, but precisely framing is immensely more difficult without seeing the proper viewfinder before you start recording. You can tap and hrecent the REC button to see the actual video viewfinder, though, and a hint for that would have been appreciated as we found it by pure accident.
However, Samsung does have an abundance of powerful features it has to fit inside the UI, and we won't hrecent that against the Galaxy S9.
So, all the vital shooting modes are available on the viewfinder, and you switch between those with swipes. The resolution and stabilization options are naturally in the advanced settings.
F/1.5 vs. F/2.4
How does the variable aperture capturing camera work? That's probably the million-dollar question, so we'll start with that. This means brighter aperture versus darker aperture. But it's not about that per se. The depth of field changes, too, something we rarely pay attention to on phone cameras. But having variable aperture opens some recent possibilities, and we'll try to elaborate the differences without going into the full technical mode.
So far, the colorful aperture on a mobile capturing camera meant better low-light shots with less noise and more detail. But F/1.5 is quite bright, and the daylight shots may eventually suffer in quality - with blown highlights in particular. The Galaxy S9 can increase the shutter speed up to 1/24000s, which means it should avoid blowing those highlights, theoretically at least.
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