Galaxy S7 Camera Review (Hands-on)

Galaxy S7 edge rear facing camera

I am currently in Barcelona, and had a change to try both the new Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge. I am an enthusiast photographer, and I was very thrilled to try the S7 camera, check its autofocus speed and see how well it works. As I am shooting with my iPhone for quite some time, I thought to myself that I will feel the difference in AF speed if there is such.  I’ve played with the camera features quite a lot and I wanted to share my experience with it with you guys,

First of all, I have to admire Samsung for putting up such two beautiful devices, but obviously the S7 edge caught my attention more with its beautiful curved display. I’ve shot with it more because, well.. I like its design better, it feels more sophisticated and better looking than the somewhat plain look of the S7 one.

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge rear camera
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge rear camera

Everything about the S7 and S7 edge felt great. The phone is very responsive and you can feel its power when jumping from one application to the other. The camera app loaded quickly and I liked the option that you can quickly launch the camera app by double clicking the start button (It can be disabled in the camera settings page).

The main S7 camera app has a slick user interface and you don’t need a degree to operate it. You have the settings icon on the top left part of the UI and a line of other features that you can quickly set and scroll right to reveal more options.You can set the flash settings, set up an auto timer, change the resolution, turn on HDR, apply effects, change the AF settings and more.

When changing the camera to work in ‘Pro’ mode, you have more options that allows you to manual control the exposure settings, including the exposure compensation, shutter speed, ISO, white balance (WB), AF settings, apply image effects and choose between three personalized camera settings. Like other Galaxy cameras, you have an option to switch between the front and rear cameras, have a large shutter button and a dedicated video recording button right next to it. At the most right side you have a direct access to the photo gallery, and tapping on the thumbnail shows you your last shot photo.

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge camera UI in Pro/Manual mode
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge camera UI in Pro/Manual mode

Every change that you make in the manual exposure mode is reflected on the screen in real-time, it’s very quick and there is not noticeable lag. This allows you to gain more precise control over the exposure and to create unique image effects without being restricted by the Auto mode. In Auto mode, the camera analyze the scene and matches what it sees as the best settings for that particular seen. Sometimes it gets you exactly what you want and sometimes you can get better results when having more control; this is what manual exposure settings are meant for. You really need to experiment with. Experience photographers will find it very useful. I usually use Auto mode when I am just grabbing some shots, like when traveling and I want to spent less time playing with the cameras settings and more time sharing instant moments with my family and friends (when I used my LG G4, which also has manual exposure control).

The S7 and S7 edge feature a 12MP 1/2.5″ Sony IMX260 image sensor with 1.44 micron pixels and a f/1.7 aperture lens. Samsung has mentioned that the S7 and S7 edge camera has 9% increase of light compared to the Galaxy S6.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge Autofocus system is a beast. The S7 and S7 feature a Dual Pixel Autofocus system. The S7 and S7 edge are the first smartphones that use this advanced technologies.  All of the smartphones on the market the use on-sensor phase-detection technology also have phase-detection AF pixels, but in the S7 and S7 edge, all the sensor pixels are uses for phase-detection. In comparison, the iPhone 6S uses less than 5^ of the pixels for phase-detection autofocus.

This gives the S7 and S7 edges a real boost in AF performance, especially in low-light considering the fact that those pixel are also larger and collect more light.

Here’s a video made by Samsung that demonstrated the AF performance difference between the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S7. You can see for yourself how fast the S7 tracked the moving object compared to the S6.

I’ve experienced the same thing when testing it myself.  You can even see the green boxes that showing where the Autofocus system is focusing at.

S7 AF points
Green squares shows where the AF is focusing at

Both the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge have a large and gorgeous display. The S7 has a 5.1-inch and the S7 edge has 5.5-inch one, both with 1440×2560 pixel resolution. There are several advantages for having such a large and high-res display: it makes it easier to digitally zoom in, tap and focus on small objects (especially if you have large fingers) and the screen has very high contrast, which makes it easier to compose your shot in daylight.

Both phones have all the right specs to perform great in low-light. I’ve inspected some high ISO shots and was amazed with what I’ve seen. Although the S7 can capture relatively very clean shots at high ISO, but when you have a f/1.7 aperture, large pixels and optical image stabilization, you’ll find yourself shooting less in high ISO settings, but it’s there is you need it.  In Auto mode, the camera will bump up the ISO when its sees fit to get a well exposed shot.

Two of the cool features that I really liked is the Virtual Shot and Motion Panorama. Both are quite similar but works a bit different. In the Motion Panorama you create a Panoramic like-image by swiping the phone from one side to the other. But unlike a regular panorama, this feature saved the motion. So each section of the frame is capturing motion. So when you watch it in the gallery and swipe to view the panoramic scene from one side to the other, you can also see a motion. This creates like a very wide short video clip.

It’s a bit hard to explain, so just watch this video below.

The second feature is dubbed ‘Virtual Shot’.  You circulate around and object, and the S7 captures a virtual tour around the subject, which once again, you can view it in a sequence by dragging your finger on the screen.  Here, check the video below.

It’s pretty cool to play with it the first time. I actually found the Motion Panorama to be very useful when you want to take a panorama image, but instead for a static image, you can capture motion – it’s amazing! I am currently in Barcelona, and I’ve shot many panoramic images with my iPhone. If I had this feature, I wouldn’t even think twice and capture a Motion Panorama capture instead.

All in all, I am very impressed with the S7 and S7 edge camera. I will post a new in-depth review when the phone is released. What do you think about the Galaxy S7 camera?

 

4 thoughts on “Galaxy S7 Camera Review (Hands-on)

  1. There is an option in ‘Pro’ mode to drag the slider and adjust the focus from macro to infinity or drag it completely to the left for auto focus. I think that’s the best it offers as far as manual focus is concerned. If I have more info I’ll update you.

  2. When dropping the exposure compensation to the negative side in the Verizon store, the display showed dark vertical bands, no matter where the camera was aimed. Is this your experience as well?

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