Samsung Galaxy S9+ camera review: Dual-aperture mode explained, samples and more
Samsung prides on the camera features of Galaxy S9+. Let’s see how it performs.
Samsung's flagship smartphones are always looked forward to with expectations going higher each year. With the latest Galaxy S9 series, Samsung has put the smartphone's camera at the forefront even before the launch. Samsung Galaxy S9+ with its dual-camera setup boasts capabilities and features putting it against Apple's iPhone X.
Samsung Galaxy S9+ is one of the few devices which is capable of shooting at 960 frames per second, delivering an ultra slow-motion video. And then there's Artificial Intelligence-powered AR Emojis, similar to iPhone X's Animojis.
We are currently in process of reviewing Samsung Galaxy S9+ and will be soon giving you our final verdict. But we have spent enough time with the phone to give you our take on its camera capabilities.
Samsung Galaxy S9+ Camera Specifications
The smartphone comes with an 8-megapixel front camera with 1/3.6-inch sensor size, 1.22um pixel size, f/1.7 aperture and 80-degree field of view. It is accompanied by some software features such as selfie focus and wide-angle selfie.
On the back, Samsung Galaxy S9+ comes with Dual Pixel 12-meapixel sensor with 1/2.55-inch sensor size, 1.4um pixel size, 77-degree field of view, dual-aperture mode (f/1.5 mode) and (f/2.4). The dual-camera setup is accompanied by dual-Optical Image Stablisation (OIS), 2X optical zoom, 10X digital zoom and live focus (for background blur effect).
Understanding dual-aperture mode
While ultra slow-motion videos and AR emojis may have hogged the limelight, the best fascinating thing about Samsung Galaxy S9+ camera is the dual-aperture mode. In terms of photography, aperture is size the opening of lens to capture amount of light reaching the sensor inside. Similar to how human eye functions, wider the aperture, higher amount of light it will capture. Aperture is measured in f stop units. A low f-stop means wider aperture whereas a high f-stop means smaller aperture.
In case of Samsung Galaxy S9+, having f/1.5 aperture is a great feat as it is among the widest apertures on any smartphone. Apple iPhone X offers an f/1.8 whereas LG V30 had f/1.6 aperture. Last year's Samsung Galaxy S8 offered an aperture of f/1.8.
So, what do these extreme wide apertures actually do? One of the big advantages is that they help deliver excellent low-light performance, which has been a big pain point for smartphone cameras over the years. Note that majority of smartphones come with fixed aperture size, therefore, you have to extensively rely on ISO and shutter speeds to capture more light.
Samsung Galaxy S9+, however, not only brings the widest aperture but also provides a narrower f/2.4 aperture. The smartphone camera automatically adapts to the light, shifting to f/2.4 aperture in the daylight or good light conditions. Similarly, the lens shifts to f/1.5 aperture mode when you're shooting in the dark or low light conditions.
While the aperture shift happens automatically according to the surrounding light conditions, you can customise the apertures going to the Pro mode.
The camera interface hasn't changed a lot from the older generation Galaxy S-series and Galaxy Note 8. On launching the camera application, you will see multiple shooting modes on the top. There are modes such as Auto, Live Focus, Super Slow-Mo, AR Emojis, Panaroma, Pro and Hyperlapse among others. Just above the shutter button, you have the buttons to Settings, full-screen mode, Flash, pre-loaded filters, and selfie switcher.
The interface is fairly simple and easy-to-get-started. The Settings button gives you further controls on the picture and video resolution. You can shoot up UHD videos at 60fps and QHD videos from the front camera. There are a few more customisations such as adding location tags, voice controls such as capturing a photo by saying "Smile" or "Cheese", or even add a floating camera button so that you can move anywhere on the screen.
Shooting with Samsung Galaxy S9+ has nothing less than a treat. The camera is zippy and does an excellent job in the daylight. If you're not big on Pro mode or customising the settings much, you can still get really good results. The auto-focus is excellent, especially when you're capturing macro shots. The results are rich in colours, contrast levels and detailed.
Low-light photography has been equally good with the smartphone. There's very minimum amount of noise in the night photos, which is quite an improvement over the predecessors. The improved low-light photography should be credited to automatic aperture shifting lens.
That being said, Samsung Galaxy S9+ ultra slow-mo mode is a bit tricky. Why? It takes a lot of efforts to get one ultra slow motion video right. While it flickers a lot in the low-light conditions, you have to make sure the subject has to been in a square viewfinder on the screen which essentially helps the phone understands that there's a motion happening. Other flipsides of the gimmicky ultra slow motion videos is that it shoots at lower 720p resolution and can capture only 0.3 seconds of shot that is extended later.
Trying slow motion on S9 plus pic.twitter.com/1YWOdMubHq— Kul Bhushan (@1987Kulbhushan) March 11, 2018
AR emojis is another hyped feature on Galaxy S9+. It doesn't let you create closer-to-your-looks avatar but does a decent job at capturing your facial expressions. Then there are few characters that will mimic your expressions. AR Emojis are highly inspired by Apple's Animojis. But at the end of the day, Samsung's AR-emojis are equally fun if you share it with your friends and get a conversation started.
Samsung Galaxy S9+ camera is a big improvement over the predecessors, especially phones older than Galaxy S8. The low-light photography is really impressive whereas the daylight photography slightly better than Galaxy Note 8. But the super slow motion videos and AR emojis aren't very impressive. Samsung Galaxy S9+ camera is better without these gimmicky features.