Samsung Galaxy S4 Overexposure (Blown Highlights), an Issue? (compared to iPhone 5S)

In this article I want to talk about the Samsung Galaxy S4 and its overexposure issue that some reviewers (including me) have camera across — if it’s an issue at all. A few days ago I went out to shoot with both the Samsung Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5S camera phones. I had a chance to see and analyze their differences in terms of image quality, AF performance, UI, video quality, etc.

After viewing some captured images on the Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5S, I’ve notices that the S4 images look brighter, including areas that were overexposed. When I shot those images, I was standing at the same distance, tap to focus on the same spot and took the images in the default settings and with very short interval between them — which means that the images were taken under the same lighting conditions.

The next set of sample images will help you comprehend what I am talking about. You can see from the fallen shadow and the cloud that this image was taken at the same point in time, plus minus a few seconds.

Sky and clouds over exposed
Image shows the blown highlights of the S4 image compare to the iPhone 5S

The image clearly shows that the Samsung Galaxy S4 does over exposed, whether the iPhone 5S does not. I’ve checked it against many other shots at various angles, lighting and focus points — just to make sure that I am not doing anything wrong. The Galaxy S4 doesn’t always over-expose of course, but there are many occasions that you will get overexposed shot.

The iPhone 5S light metering sensor seemed to do a better job, and only a few times I’ve noticed that the iPhone overexposed. Even when that happen, the S4 was already shown higher exposure than the 5S.

Sky blown highlights - Apple iPhone 5S vs Samsung Galaxy S4
Sky blown highlights – Apple iPhone 5S vs Samsung Galaxy S4

The image above show from the same distance, under the same lighting conditions with 10 seconds apart. You can see that the iPhone 5S image has the sky and cloud area almost totally white, but it’s less severe than the S4 image — and the problem with the S4 is that you see that more often. I tried my best to tap to focus on the same spot and more or less to make the comparison as fare as possible.

Another thing that you can see from the above image is that the iPhone 5S, due to its wide-angle less, has very severe distortion.

You can get an overexposed image on any phone camera, and it depends on the particular scene and the place that you tap to lock the exposure (usually the place that you focus on). I don’t know whether it’s an issue or not with the light metering or the image processing engine, but it just seemed that I was getting too much of those blown highlights on the S4 compare to the iPhone 5S.

Are you experiencing the same ‘issue’ with your Samsung Galaxy S4?

One thought on “Samsung Galaxy S4 Overexposure (Blown Highlights), an Issue? (compared to iPhone 5S)

  1. Absolutely. I bought the s5 after drowning my Droid RAZR on a kayaking trip, and I thought the droid took much better pictures. The S4 and S5 both take pictures that are constantly over exposed, and usually washed out in the upper right corner

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