The Samsung Galaxy range has proved popular with consumers for a long time now. The company has been able to provide smart, practical devices that offer a wide range of functions and apps. The arrival of the Galaxy S10 meant some high expectations for further improvements to the user experience and the camera. The response hasn’t been completely positive as some were left disappointed by the abilities of the Samsung Galaxy S10 camera and the photos produced. Others say that there are improvements and can focus on a range of helpful features.
So, why choose the S10 or the larger S10 Plus sibling if the reviews are so mixed?
There were initially some criticisms of the new camera system, and we will look at these criticisms more closely below. However, there are also some great new features and ideas in this new version that mean that there is potential for Samsung devotees that want to upgrade. First, we will look at the pros and cons of the Galaxy S10 camera more generally – for example the different lens, modes, and smart software. Following that, we will consider whether or not it might be worth getting the larger Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus Camera instead. Finally, how does this model compare with other devices on the market?
One of the advantages that immediately stands out with the S10 camera is the use of different lenses. There are four of them in total on the standard model. This is still far more than your average smartphone camera and more than most amateur photographers would carry with them. Each lens has a distinct function.
Galaxy S10 Camera Specs
- Primary: 12MP sensor with 1.4µm pixels and 26mm-equivalent, f/1.5–2.4 aperture lens, Dual-Pixel AF, OIS
- Ultra-wide: 16MP sensor 1.0µm pixels and 13mm-equivalent, f/2.4-aperture lens
- Telephoto: 12MP sensor with 1.0µm pixels and 52mm-equivalent, f/2.4 aperture lens, PDAF, OIS
- 1080p/30fps (default settings)
Front Facing Camera Specs
- 10MP sensor with f/1.9 aperture, Dual-Pixel AF, UHD
S10 Plus Only
- 8MP RGB sensor
The Galaxy S10 Is All About Flexibility
Think of it this way. When you have a digital camera with a detachable lens, you have the opportunity to use a range of lenses for different situations. In normal circumstances, this means carrying around a lot of equipment and taking the time to switch them over. Modern smartphones do away with that by installing a range of lenses into one device. The phone is smart enough to switch between them for different settings.
The 12MP Wide Angle Camera
This is your primary camera in as much as it is used for most of your day-to-day shots. The wide-angle lens is great for landscapes, cityscapes, group shots and more. You can point and shoot with this and get some great results. The 12MP spec is designed to offer great low light features with its f/1.5 aperture and then can be used in normal light with the f/2.4 aperture.
There is also some OIS here (optical image stabilization) to reduce the impact of camera shake. Again, this isn’t available on all of the other lenses, so you need to be careful with selfies and panoramas.
The 12MP Telephoto Camera
Then there is the telephoto lens. Again, this is a 12MP lens that produces sharp images but it’s not the best around. On a full-frame camera, this would be a large lens that you will see people using for zooming in on long-range subjects. Think wildlife photographers tracking down an elusive animal. In theory, you could do something similar with the wildlife on your local pond or in the park. The telephoto zoom is also great for taking a shot of buildings in the distance. Sometimes we want to highlight a specific sight in front of us but it gets lost in a normal wide shot. Yes, I was getting carried away! With only a 2x zoom this lens is not going to provide wildlife shots unless you are in a zoo.
This lens has a 40-degree angle and as mentioned a 2 x zoom. There is also OIS anti-blur tech. A 2x zoom is great for getting closer than you would on a normal image. However, there are other companies pushing these boundaries a lot further.
The 16MP Ultra-wide Camera
This is an interesting addition to the camera because of its potential for panoramas. This is the opposite of the telephoto camera above. If you have looked across a landscape or city skyline and wished that you could capture it all, that is where you need this sort of extra wide-angle lens.
The impressive thing about this lens is the 123-degree field of vision. What this means is that it can see almost as much as you can. Therefore, the shots you take will reflect the experience of being in that sky lounge or on the summit of that hill. There are slightly more megapixels here for a better image.
The 10MP Selfie Camera
Finally, there is the selfie camera on the front. This one isn’t as impressive in terms of function and megapixels. There are two reasons for this. First of all, a basic selfie camera is more about the software and effects than the quality of the lens. Secondly, the potential increases on the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus camera due to its additional selfie camera. Even so, this is still a good camera for those that want to make sure they look at their best in their next selfie.
Some of the additional benefits with this front-facing camera include the UHD selfie technology and the dual pixel autofocus. Basically, Samsung wants to make it as easy as possible for you to capture your best side.
Other Impressive Features of the Galaxy S10
One of the interesting things about the photo capture on this model is that there is a scene optimiser. What this means is that the camera is able to adjust the settings of the camera in order to enhance the tone based on the subject. There is also a chance for flaw detection to try and perfect the shots. Now, the list of scenes, or modes, that are available is just excessive. To be honest, you aren’t going to use them all and many of them are just for show. A good digital camera will have a third of these and developers will agree that the rest of superfluous. Even so, some of these modes will be appealing to those that want to play around with different images. Let’s look at some of the options.
It clearly isn’t enough to just have a portrait mode to capture people. The Samsung Galaxy S10 camera has People, Person, Face and Baby – because baby pictures need something different. Then there are the separate options for dog, cat and the broader “animal”.
If you are heading out on a trip and want perfect landscapes, there are different modes there too. This includes beaches, sky, snow, trees and flowers. There are also two modes that challenge us to venture a little further – mountains and waterfalls.
Many of us will use the phone in urban settings more than rural ones. We want to be able to take great photos of events, city scenes, fashion and more. There are modes here for shoes, clothes, stages, vehicles and cities more generally. Naturally, there is also a mode for the Instagram must-post subject of food.
Time of Day
Then there are the different modes for different times of the day. There are sunset and sunrise modes as well as a night mode. However, as you will see below, there are issues with the latter.
Fun Tools for Social Media
There are some systems that run the risk of acting too much like a digital camera and less like a smartphone camera. This can lessen the appeal for those that don’t want things to get too technical. Samsung has attempted to address that balance with a couple of features for the social media generation.
In all honesty, this first one is quite dumb – not that this means that it isn’t fun for the right user. Samsung phones make use of a feature called the AR Emoji. The idea here is that the Samsung Galaxy S10 camera takes a selfie, which it then uses to create an emoji based on your appearance and movements. This latest version is the smartest and most customisable one yet with new accessories and message options.
A more practical tool for users is the connection to social media profiles. The camera app has direct links to social media profiles of your choice. This streamlines the process of taking that perfect shot and posting it on Instagram or Twitter for all to see. This is perfect for those that are sharing their adventures in real-time and don’t have time to mess around with apps.
So why were there so many complaints about the Samsung Galaxy S10 Camera when it came out?
There were some complaints about this camera on launch from those that felt that the quality of the images was sub-standard due to the amount of noise. There were also those that talked about poor nighttime modes and low light capabilities. This camera also has a Dual Pixel Focus Sensor that is said to capture action shots with greater precision and clarity. This sensor is also designed to enhance selfies in different light conditions. This discontentment only increased when users started to see what could be achieved with rival models. The Huawei P30 Pro has since changed the game when it comes to sensors and night time shots. The Google Pixel 3 can also create some impressive images.
The good news for some users is that these complaints have led to a recent update. This new fix enhances the Night mode option by adding the capability to the ultra-wide camera. There are two apertures on this phone – the F2.4 aperture mode for sharp daylight scenes and F1.5 aperture mode for low light. This update means that you can now use night mode in the best circumstances. Those that have tested this out say that there is a dramatic difference.
Another change to the system is that it now keeps the shutter open for longer to let more light in. This is great as long as you have a steady hand. There isn’t the same image stabilisation here as in digital cameras. A downside to this update is that it might be slow to roll out worldwide. European consumers may be able to use this much sooner than those in the US.
What Makes The Galaxy S10 Plus Different?
There is the clear sense here that the company are trying to improve the Samsung Galaxy S10 camera to make it comparable to the s10+. This raises two questions. Does this mean that the S10+ may soon have no additional features or perks that make it a more appealing choice? Also, does it mean that the current Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus Camera is the obvious choice?
The extra lens on the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus camera sets it apart from its smaller counterpart.
There are lots of similarities between the S10 and S10+ in terms of the abilities and software on offer. However, there is one major difference in the hardware. The S10 has its fans because it is part of a new generation of quad-camera systems. This S10+ goes even further as it has a whole other camera that you don’t get with the standard S10. This is the 8MP RGB depth camera on the front. In other words, you get the same great three camera system on the back and a new dual camera on the front. This extra camera has plenty of benefits for those that want to take the perfect selfie – although there is one downside.
We haven’t really talked about the front-facing camera and the selfie game of this device yet. This combination of lens takes what is a fairly decent front camera and enhances it by improving the depth and the effects available. You can make the most of the Live Focus system on either the S10 or the S10+. This feature is able to separate the human subject from the background to improve the look of the portrait. This means that you can adjust the depth of field and the blurring around the subject. You can also take this further with the optional bokeh effects after the shot is taken.
There is also a neat trick where you can colorize the model in the shot and take the color out of the background. This is perfect if you want a clear sense of a location but still want to highlight the person. These effects seem to be well-received.
However, there is one potential issue with the display.
The downside to adding this extra front camera is that it compromises the look of the display. Many smartphone users are fed up of the notches that appear at the top of the display. We want clean lines and unbroken displays for the best experience. This Samsung Galaxy S10+ doesn’t have that typical notch. Instead, there is a little section cut out of the display that makes it look like its been attacked by an over-sized hole punch. This is the only way to install both of these front-facing lenses into the display.
Many users will put up with this aesthetic oversight because of the increased functionality. You either have a nicer looking display for weaker selfies or impressive looking portraits with that small gap. You will get used to it after a while.
Other factors that may affect the performance and look of photos on an S10 or s10+.
When it comes to the cameras, lenses and software, there isn’t all that much difference between the Samsung Galaxy S10 camera and the one in the S10+. However, there are other differences between the two devices that could have an impact on its potential as a smartphone camera. Those that are keen to find the most practical, helpful model also need to think about the size and battery life.
Size is always going to be a big talking point with any smartphone. There are differing ideas on what size screen people really want and where to draw the line on the weight. This is partly why we see such a range of options with one release now. The Galaxy S10 is a comfortable size and weight for most people. It has a screen size of 6.1 inches and weighs just 5.5 ounces. By comparison, the S10+ has a 6.4 inch screen and a weight of 6.17 ounces. There is a larger, heavier version as well that is a bit excessive for those after a pocket-sized device.
The Battery Life
Finally, we have to consider the battery life of both of these models. There is a noticeable difference in the capacity and the subsequent lifespan. The Galaxy S10 has a typical battery of 3400mAh while the Galaxy S10+ has a typical 4100mAh battery. On average, this leads to a lifespan of 10:19 for the Galaxy S10 and 12:35 for the Galaxy S10+. That means a full day of taking photos – with that extra lens – without worrying so much about the phone dying.
So how does the Samsung Galaxy S10 camera rate as a must-have smartphone camera?
There is a lot to like about this smartphone and its camera because it does cover a lot of the basics pretty well. When we break down the specification of those lenses we see the potential for different situations. The use of 30 modes may be over the top, yet there is no doubt that Samsung wants to equip users for different adventures. There is something for different users too. The quality of the telephoto and panoramic lenses will appeal to those that want to improve their shots. But, there are still fun features and aids for social media sharing. The problem is that there are better options on the market.
It seems that Samsung originally took the Apple route of offering just enough for an upgrade and to let smartphone users get a decent photo. They might not have expected to need anything more than this. However, other developers have shown what can be done with zooms, low light modes and more. There can be little doubt that it was a combination of these advancements and the complaints on the launch that led to the new update. That update will go some way to improving the experience. Still, there will be Galaxy owners that remain jealous of the image quality of the Google Pixel 3 or the night time shots of the Huawei P30 Pro. There is no doubt that Samsung are at risk of being left behind if they don’t enhance theri software further.
If you are steadfast with Samsung and the Galaxy S10 model, which should you choose?
If you are struggling to choose between the two models, you need to think about the pros and cons of them side by side. On the one hand, the Samsung Galaxy S10 camera is smart, has pretty much everything that users need in software and is a little bit smaller and lighter. On the other, the S10 Plus has that additional front camera for a new approach to selfies. It also has a bigger display to show them off – even if that does mean that cut-out for the lenses. Both models have some disadvantages with the night modes and image quality but this may soon improve with that new update.
The choice ultimately depends on your chosen subject. Do you want to focus on the landscapes and scenes in front of you or create the best selfies you can? If it is the latter, the depth control of the dual-lens front camera of the S10+ steals it. Also remember that either choice is certainly better than the S10e – which only has 2 rear cameras, one front camera, and fewer capabilities. In short, if you want to stay loyal to Samsung – despite the disappointment from users on the launch – go with the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus camera for its extra camera, display, clever tech, and longer battery life.