Samsung Galaxy S8 Review: Android Excellence In Performance And Design

Galaxy S8 And Galaxy S8+ Camera Software And Performance

Samsung has continued to refine their camera setups in the Galaxy S series of smartphones and the Galaxy S7, at least until the Google Pixel XL showed up, was definitely one the best Android shooters out there. Google took that bar up another notch with slightly more balanced image processing and better low-light performance, if only by a hair, and if you were careful to coax it out of the machine. Samsung is clearly looking to take the top Android camera spot back with the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, and from the looks of it, it's close with a bit of variability that seems to be more related to tuning than anything else. 

Samsung Galaxy S8 Camera main Samsung Galaxy S8 Camera Modes
Samsung Galaxy S8 Camera Shot Stylize Samsung Galaxy S8 Camea Edit and Share
Samsung Galaxy S8 Pro Camera Samsung Galaxy S8 Camera Video Gesture Controls
Samsung Galaxy S8 And Galaxy S8+ Camera System Software

Samsung's camera app is rife with features, from full-manual Pro mode to Selective Focus, Panorama, and Virtual 360 shots. Now there's also a RAW shot mode that pulls the images right off the sensor with minimal post processing. In the interest of time, we weren't able to grab and manually process RAW samples, but we'll see if we can come back here with an update shortly. The camera also has some nice on-screen control modes for working with video. Everything about Samsung's camera software with the Galaxy S8 is very polished and refined, though we know the majority of users will likely fire up that trusty ol' full-Auto mode. 

As such, with the exception of an occasional tap-to-focus before the shot and Auto-HDR enabled, the following are shots taken on the Samsung Galaxy S8 in auto mode. Since both camera setups are identical between the two devices, you can rest assured results will be similar between the big boy Samsung Galaxy S8+ and the more petite model. 

camera shot dogs in bed indoor lighting camera shot Dog Stairs
camera shot indoor bright window mixed lighting camera shot indoor bright lighting
camera shot indoor lighting camera shot bricks
camera shot Jimmy Ds camera shot flower sun shade
camera shot brick building with paper birch camera shot dog outside sun shadows

In the shots above, we have various lighting conditions and shot complexity situations represented. We've sized the images down from 9.1MP 16:9 aspect shots on phone to 1920x1080, but with no other image processing beyond resizing and very light compression. The first thing you'll note is how balanced and natural color reproduction is. If Samsung was dinged for slightly over-saturated still image rendering before (though we never complained), all that seems to be history now and the accuracy of color reproduction is excellent here. The other thing that's obvious is that Samsung's continued strength in low-light performance is back and this camera setup delivers pictures with about as minimal grain as you're going to get in low light conditions. However, there seems to be a bit of shutter speed and ISO tweaking that could deliver better results in Auto mode. There's a bit of over-focus perhaps with foreground and background objects in some shots. Note Yogi's picture sitting on the stairs, with the patterned carpet behind him. The shot really pops with true to life colors and textures that are in focus. However, there's a slight hint of blur and bokeh going on between his face and the tip of his nose and the rest of his body.

Incidentally, though I do love my dogs, I use them frequently because they make excellent shot subjects. The color variations of their fur and the texture and shadow variations of their faces make for excellent comparative reference points. If you'd life to see similar results from the Galaxy S7 series and Google Pixel Xl go here and here. Regardless, what we're seeing so far from the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+, in terms of still captures, is impressive and competitive with other flagships on the market. However, if we were to place bets, we'd say there's some fine tuning still forthcoming from Samsung in this area. 

In terms of video shot capabilities, see for yourself what the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ can do...

Our observation is that we've got good image stabilization here, fast auto-focus response and generally excellent image quality, especially at 4K resolution. We did notice a slight bit of compression artifacting in variable light conditions but it's not too severe and observable unless you're really looking for it. This may be something that Samsung can optimize in future software updates as well. 

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