Testing out the Galaxy S24 Ultra’s new camera

When Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S24 series earlier this year, much of the focus was on the Galaxy AI features of the devices. In our own review of the S24 Ultra, it was were we focused much of our attention as well.

In the weeks since, we have had a bit more time to explore the S24 Ultra, and in particular are looking at the camera performance of the current flagship phone in the South Korean company’s smartphone lineup.

We put this system to use during a recent trip to MWC in Barcelona. We explored the Catalan city with the device, as well as put it to use while walking around Paris too, along with a few shots back home in Johannesburg.

A photo of the S24 Ultra, but not taken with an S24 Ultra.

This is what we learned about the S24 Ultra, and whether it improves upon the already impressive setup found in the previous generation of flagship phone.

Before we share that verdict, let’s look at the components at work here.

Focusing on the main camera array found on the rear of the phone, the S24 Ultra features a 12MP ultra-wide angle lens (f2.2, 120-degree field of view), a massive 200MP wide-angle option (f1.7, 85-degree field of view), and a pair of telephoto lenses – 50MP (f3.4) and 10MP (f2.4).

As for which option is best for what type of photography, think of the 12MP one as your Swiss army knife and the go-to all rounder. It is also the default option when opening up the camera app, but frustratingly, there is no way that we could find to permanently change the lens options. As such, we often found ourselves toggling to one of the larger sized lenses in order to capture the most nuance and detail on images.

The other two options you can switch between are 50MP and 200MP. The latter is of course the best, and particularly great when used in connection when zoom to ensure you lose no detail when capturing images. It does come at the cost of sheer image size, witch some pictures we captured ballooning into the 25 to 30MB range at times. It’s a good thing our review unit featured a healthy 256GB of storage.

The 50MP option is the happy medium in our opinion, doing a bit of everything well. The f3.4 aperture is particularly great when it comes to portait photography, and the size of the lens means you capture a good amount of detail when it comes to shooting outdoors or snapping pictures of architecture, which we did plenty of.

Now that we’ve broken down which lens is best for what type of photography, let’s talk about the general experience of the S24 Ultra’s main camera array. Here it copes well in low light conditions.

You likely cannot tell from the images below, but the vast majority were taken on an overcast day in Paris, where it drizzled throughout, before the clouds finally broke cover later in the afternoon.

While overcast weather can sometimes be good for photography, as the cloud cover can have a greater impact on brightness and the risk of overexposed pictures, in our day of testing cloud cover was actually grey and sombre.

Luckily the colour detection of the S24 ultra system was able to pick up different elements and lighting quite nicely, as seen in the image of a Renault dealership under construction on the Champs-Élysée below.

We were also able to capture the beautiful pops of azure blue sky through the parting cloud cover while taking images of iconic buildings like the Arc de Triomphe, creating a great contrast to make pictures look more vibrant.

It is the simple point and shoot capabilities of the S24 Ultra that make it a great photography tool.

In the hands of an amateur it will yield solid imagery most of the time, and in the hands of a professional who will want to play around with the settings, it can result in interesting framing and compositions.

When we reviewed the S22 Ultra a couple of years ago, we called it the best smartphone camera experience you could get at the time. Last year, it was the Huawei P60 Pro that blew us away with its performance.

For 2024, the S24 Ultra has set the bar high once again, and it will take some doing for other smartphone makers (Apple included) to serve up something better.


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