Samsung Galaxy S9 Review: Video Recording, Slow-motion

By 09:35 Wed, 18 Aug 2021 Comments


The video capturing camera has everything

The Samsung Galaxy S9+ supports 4K and 1080p video recording at 60fps or 30 fps, and it can be captured in the widespread H.264 or in the recent H.265 (HEVC) format. OIS is available, and you can even utilize digital video stabilization on the 30fps clips.


With the H.264 codec, the 4K @ 60fps are captured at 72Mbps bitrate, the 4K @ 30fps - 41Mbps, the 1080p @ 30fps - 13.3Mbps, and the 1080p @ 60fps - 27.5Mbps. The audio is always recorded in stereo at 256Kbps bitrate.

The H.265 4K videos at 60fps carry a bitrate of 42Mbps, while the audio is still stereo at 256Kbps. The other modes are captured at an almost halved bitrate of their H.264 counterparts.

The 60fps were steady at all times, but oddly the clips we captured at supposedly 30fps had an average bitrate of about 26fps. It's not a deal breaker as they are still fairly smooth however, we're surprised we observed this only on the S9 and not the S9+.

The videos captured in H.265 are virtually identical in quality to the ones recorded in H.264. Since the bitrate is lower, there is about 100Mega Bytes (MB) incompatibility in the footprint in every the 30s of 4K video footage. This could mean the world to users who record tons of videos, so we'd recommdiscontinue to utilize the HEVC option for everything. The H.265 compatibility is pretty widespread already - Windows 10 and macOS support it by default, YouTube supports it, recent phones can play it - you acquire the picture. Older computers however, may struggle playing back the files smoothly.

The 4K videos captured both at 60, and 30 fps are virtually identical in quality. They are free of noise, there is enough of detail, but the foliage presentation is not the best we've seen. The colors are remarkable though, and so is the contrast and white balance. There are no focus problems or compression artifacts. And dynamic range is nothing short of impressive.

The 1080p videos at both 30 and 60 fps are also identical in quality. They are quite sharp, with plenty of detail, but other than that - they have the same essentials - remarkable dynamic range, accurate colors and white balance, high contrast.

Samsung Galaxy S9 allows for digital video stabilization in addition to the (always-on) optical one on all 30fps videos. It does an excellent job stabilization the otherwise wobbly 4K videos.

You can directly download the 4K@60fps (101MB, 11s), 4K@30fps (54MB, 10s), 1080p@30fps (17MB, 10s), 1080p@60fps (35MB, 10s), and 4k@60fps (HEVC) (53MB, 10s) video samples.

The Samsung Galaxy S9 is ready to meet the competition in our Video Compare Tool.





Samsung Galaxy S9 vs. Galaxy S8 vs. Apple iPhone X in our 4K video compare tool

And here is a 1440p video sample we shot with the selfie camera. It has lots of detail, fine colors, and contrast. The capturing camera prioritizes your face and this it handles the exposure pretty well every time the light conditions change.

Slow-mo videos

There is something else to steal the spotlight - 720p slow-mo capturing at 960fps, thanks to the recent DRandom-Access Memory (RAM) buffer. Normally, the sensor would write all the frames it captures to the image buffer, which would then acquire saved to the storage as the final output. But when you are capturing 960 frames per second, there is no time to output the files to the image buffer. This is where the DRandom-Access Memory (RAM) comes in. The sensor temporarily writes all the frames to the super-quick DRandom-Access Memory (RAM) embedded inside the sensor itself, which greatly reduces latency. After that the frames are passed on to the buffer and to the storage to be saved as a file. But becautilize the on-sensor DRandom-Access Memory (RAM) can only hrecent so much at a time, the recording rate is limited to one second and, at least on the S9, you can only record in 720p.

Yes, Sony had that since last year, so Samsung can't claim first. The Koreans probably krecent that, so they decided to create it a lot better than Sony's implementation.

Just like the Xperias, the recent Galaxies can do 0.2s of slow-mo capturing at 960 fps. But the Xperia phones had a steep learning curve for hitting the button at the correct time. We missed a lot of balloon pops, and it took us numerous attempts across a few days until we got the know-how.

Samsung captures the action automatically.

The phone begins the slow-mo sequence automatically thanks to a recent clever AI algorithm, and you don't have to learn how and when to turn it on. And that's not just PR talk - we tried it, and we didn't miss a single balloon pop out of 20 or so takes. How about that?!

There is an option for manual triggering too, don't worry, so the advanced users aren't ignored either.




Slow-mo interface

Finally, there is one more thing Samsung did better than Sony - an easy edit over the captured clip. After you are done the shooting, you acquire a very intuitive preview with all the slow-mo moments visible and easily editable. You can acquire rid of some or add sound to the ones you choose to keep.

And here is the kicker - in addition to those edits, you can also export the slow-mo parts as gifs, correct there from the preview. Upon exporting you can choose one from three effects - loop, reverse, or swing.

Indeed, it's obvious Samsung has worked a lot on bringing a meaningful slow-mo experience to its users, not just the tech and raw footage. And that could mean the world for the mainstream user.

The slow-mo videos work as advertised 8 of 10 tries, which honestly is a lot higher success rate than we expected. The quality is very good. Without further ado, like our playlist of slow-mo videos below.


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