Feb 24 AT 3:14 PM Dima Aryeh 21 Comments

A closer look at the Samsung Galaxy S5′s camera

Samsung Galaxy S5 Camera

So now that the Samsung Galaxy S5 is official, it’s time to take a closer look at some of the features of the device! Samsung has decided to focus on the usefulness of the smartphone rather than indulge the spec race, which resulted in the camera being redone to be simple and effective. And with some of the new features in the camera, we think Samsung may have succeeded in that area. Let’s dive in.

First of all, the hardware was completely changed. The camera sensor is now 16 megapixels, which is quite high resolution. But resolution doesn’t make a camera good automatically, so Samsung added a hybrid autofocus system. It uses both standard autofocus and phase detection autofocus at the same time, which means it focuses super fast. It can be focus in as little as 0.3 seconds, which Samsung claims is the fastest of any smartphone. That’s legitimately useful in daily use.

HDR has also been improved in some significant ways. Instant HDR shows you a preview of how the photo will be taken in HDR, instead of showing you the dark or light preview. HDR photos are also taken faster, negating the need to stay still for a long time. And surprisingly, Samsung added HDR video to improve taking videos in many situations.

There are also a bunch of software features, like Selective Focus. This effect allows you to select subjects to remain in focus, while the background is blurred. This adds the effect of a wide open aperture on a DSLR, so it’s just a smart filter.

Unfortunately, Samsung missed out on adding a huge feature that would make the camera significantly better in low light. This feature is optical image stabilization, or OIS. It’s a feature that many people have been asking for, including me, and Samsung hasn’t added it to its new flagship. It’s disappointing, but hopefully the sensor is good enough to take decent low light photos. We’ll have to wait and see.

Though many would consider the Samsung Galaxy S5 a disappointment due to the specs, let me remind you that the Moto X thrived without amazing specs to back it up. Samsung seems to have added some seriously useful features to the device, making it better for the everyday person. The camera experience sounds genuinely good, so I can’t wait to play with it. Share your thoughts with us, along with your gripes and squeals of joy!

Dima Aryeh is a Russian obsessed with all things tech. He does photography, is an avid phone modder (who uses an AT&T Galaxy Note II), a heavy gamer (both PC and 360), and an aspiring home mechanic. He is also an avid fan of music, especially power metal.

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  • www.phonewbie.com

    I think your last paragraph should say S5 instead of S4. I agree with you about OIS missing from the camera.

    • Curtis

      lmao it’s because it’s the same phone even his got mixed up.

      • riz

      • http://www.androidandme.com Dima Aryeh

        Totally intentional, man, totally intentional O_o

      • Xero

        Seriously though, we are entering a stagnant point in mobile tech.. Sure we could put in dual octacore processors, 30mp cameras with ois and 16gb of ram… The problems is our battery tech, as it stands we are at our limit, most barely get 20hours on these things.. Next big thing will have to be a new battery that exceeds current battery tech, then we will see another mobile tech jump.

        • Sean Lumly

          Battery chemistry has been improving gradually year-over-year.

          And the idea of stagnation in mobile is a recent internet meme with zero basis in reality. There is a TON of innovation happening in hardware and software. Just because there hasn’t been a node shrink for over a year, doesn’t mean that things have stagnated.

  • Nate B.

    The specs are nice. It’s a healthy upgrade. It’s the design of the phone. That alone molds deeply with the bells and whistles it has to offer. They didn’t execute in that area..again..and again.

    • Sean Lumly

      Exactly right. The specs of the Galaxy S5 in many cases are industry leading. It is a large leap over the originaly Galaxy S4, and still a considerable boost over the LTE Galaxy S4, the Note 3, and the Galaxy Active.

      The CPU, GPU, DSP and RAM have all had increased clocks — it now claims the top spots on most credible graphics benchmarks (GFXBench, BasemarkX, and 3DMark). The AMOLED screen should at minimum be using the same panel in the Note 3, which was a HUGE improvement over previous screens in terms of sRGB colour accuracy, viewing angles, and efficiency. The camera sensor is larger, it uses ISOCELL, it appears to use a secondary sensor, and has a pleathora of computed imaging functions that offer a significant features and quality improvements over the S4 camera. It has a fingerprint scanner that can be used to unlock the device, unlock protected documents, and make mobile payments. The battery has a higher capacity (higher volts and amps), and is also coupled with more efficient software leading to claims of 12 hours of video watching, 10 hours of web surfing, 2 weeks of standby time, etc. The UI has been modernized significantly and looks nicer than TouchWiz of old. Oh, and it’s waterproof to 1 meter of submersion, which should make this device very durable in practice. And I think it looks quite nice, certainly a step up over the S4.

      And these aren’t all of the features.

      This is a significant upgrade over the S4, and to be honest, it packs a ton of technology for any device refresh.

      The S5 is a winner and will make a great mobile device.

  • BlazeHN

    2GB RAM and the worse of all… 16GB Sorage (6GB user available now?)… ugggg…

  • Ryan

    Moral of this story: The Nexus 5 is still a better bang for your buck.

    • deke218

      Keep telling yourself that.

      • Xero

        Why is it that Nexus owners think everything else is garbage.. I just put gpe ROM on my One, and it blows the Nexus 5 away, my Note 3 with all of sammies bloat ware still is more powerful, more useful and better looking then any Nexus device I’ve ever seen.. I tend to want the top of the line tech and there is a reason I skipped the Nexus 4 and 5..

        • Bicarbonate

          Xero…Can I just say LOL!! Look, if you prefer the HTC One to the Nexus 5, for any reason, fine, no issue. But I do find your comment that with GPE ROM HTC One blows N5 away laughable!! I had One myself and did a full GPE conversion (S-Off, bootloader unlock and CID change). I then decided to try an N5 and was able to compare them side by side before I sold the One and can say as an objective fact (if you believe me) that the GPE one is an inferior Android implementation to the N5 in most metrics that I could see to test. I’m talking the general OS and responsiveness, the N5 is faster and smoother. I’m not saying the One is bad but side by side it is easily noticeable. Speakers and headphone SQ about the only areas the One > N5. If you prefer the One construction and styling (and I do think it is nice) then One > N5. I personally would take the N5 bigger screen and wireless charging over the One’s speakers and aluminium build.

  • http://droidsamurai.blogspot.com DroidSamurai

    >> Moto X thrived without amazing specs

    That works for the Moto X because its OS is much more streamlined and highly optimized. Samsung isn’t well known for doing that. My wife’s Note 3 doesn’t always feel as snappy as my Moto X even though it has a much faster processor and more RAM.

    • TheInfamous

      The Moto X is a decent device,but it did not thrive…as sales were pass poor despite being well recieved by the tech community.

  • Charles

    I think missing Optical Image Stabilization is a major disaster for this phone. I was waiting to find out if this phone will have it, and will now look at other phones instead. BAD DECISION by Samsung.

    • Sean Lumly

      It can do stabalization in software. In any case, it will be interesting to see the results given actual shots. The Galaxy S line has always had top-notch cameras that can produce remarkable photos.

  • Peter

    because s5 has no OIS, I will not buy it!

    • jamie

      the nexus 5 has Optical Image Stabilization

    • donger

      LOL.

  • furry

    The S5 was launch and the crowd of 5000+ was’nt very impressed! We will have to wait for what the competitors has to offer to decide. It is really a pity Samsung that you did not sell us S5 without any doubts. This launch should have been bang and WOW that cause all potential buyers to just forget about any other competitors and just go get the S5. But at last, this is not the case in this bad launch. If they think they have a premium S5 set under wraps, that would be a very bad and unwise marketing strategy as the whole world was waiting so eagerly for this S5 and it drop like a “Oh well just another high end phone, nothing really special”. Have’nt they read of the saying strike while it is hot!!!. If the Ram was 3G and battery was 3200mah, I would go for it even if it is not so nice in design. But then, there are no redeeming factors on S5. What main features available on S5, they are on the other similar competitors handsets (LG Pro G2, Xperia Z2, HTC M8). This is a sad story for S5 launch.

    Note: Heart beat and finger scanner is just gimmicks. I do not have top secret info to hide and what makes you think your phone can be protected by the finger scanner when any app can easily access your contacts or browser history or SDcard if permission is granted. No smart phone is completely secured. The finger scanner is just a sales gimmick! Do not let this be a purchase factor. Screen size, Battery capacity, System memory and less bloat ware is what counts.

  1. I think your last paragraph should say S5 instead of S4. I agree with you about OIS missing from the camera.

    • lmao it’s because it’s the same phone even his got mixed up.

      • rizGuest 1 year ago

      • Totally intentional, man, totally intentional O_o

      • XeroGuest 1 year ago

        Seriously though, we are entering a stagnant point in mobile tech.. Sure we could put in dual octacore processors, 30mp cameras with ois and 16gb of ram… The problems is our battery tech, as it stands we are at our limit, most barely get 20hours on these things.. Next big thing will have to be a new battery that exceeds current battery tech, then we will see another mobile tech jump.

        • Sean LumlyGuest 1 year ago

          Battery chemistry has been improving gradually year-over-year.

          And the idea of stagnation in mobile is a recent internet meme with zero basis in reality. There is a TON of innovation happening in hardware and software. Just because there hasn’t been a node shrink for over a year, doesn’t mean that things have stagnated.

  2. The specs are nice. It’s a healthy upgrade. It’s the design of the phone. That alone molds deeply with the bells and whistles it has to offer. They didn’t execute in that area..again..and again.

    • Sean LumlyGuest 1 year ago

      Exactly right. The specs of the Galaxy S5 in many cases are industry leading. It is a large leap over the originaly Galaxy S4, and still a considerable boost over the LTE Galaxy S4, the Note 3, and the Galaxy Active.

      The CPU, GPU, DSP and RAM have all had increased clocks — it now claims the top spots on most credible graphics benchmarks (GFXBench, BasemarkX, and 3DMark). The AMOLED screen should at minimum be using the same panel in the Note 3, which was a HUGE improvement over previous screens in terms of sRGB colour accuracy, viewing angles, and efficiency. The camera sensor is larger, it uses ISOCELL, it appears to use a secondary sensor, and has a pleathora of computed imaging functions that offer a significant features and quality improvements over the S4 camera. It has a fingerprint scanner that can be used to unlock the device, unlock protected documents, and make mobile payments. The battery has a higher capacity (higher volts and amps), and is also coupled with more efficient software leading to claims of 12 hours of video watching, 10 hours of web surfing, 2 weeks of standby time, etc. The UI has been modernized significantly and looks nicer than TouchWiz of old. Oh, and it’s waterproof to 1 meter of submersion, which should make this device very durable in practice. And I think it looks quite nice, certainly a step up over the S4.

      And these aren’t all of the features.

      This is a significant upgrade over the S4, and to be honest, it packs a ton of technology for any device refresh.

      The S5 is a winner and will make a great mobile device.

  3. 2GB RAM and the worse of all… 16GB Sorage (6GB user available now?)… ugggg…

  4. RyanGuest 1 year ago

    Moral of this story: The Nexus 5 is still a better bang for your buck.

    • deke218Guest 1 year ago

      Keep telling yourself that.

      • XeroGuest 1 year ago

        Why is it that Nexus owners think everything else is garbage.. I just put gpe ROM on my One, and it blows the Nexus 5 away, my Note 3 with all of sammies bloat ware still is more powerful, more useful and better looking then any Nexus device I’ve ever seen.. I tend to want the top of the line tech and there is a reason I skipped the Nexus 4 and 5..

        • BicarbonateGuest 1 year ago

          Xero…Can I just say LOL!! Look, if you prefer the HTC One to the Nexus 5, for any reason, fine, no issue. But I do find your comment that with GPE ROM HTC One blows N5 away laughable!! I had One myself and did a full GPE conversion (S-Off, bootloader unlock and CID change). I then decided to try an N5 and was able to compare them side by side before I sold the One and can say as an objective fact (if you believe me) that the GPE one is an inferior Android implementation to the N5 in most metrics that I could see to test. I’m talking the general OS and responsiveness, the N5 is faster and smoother. I’m not saying the One is bad but side by side it is easily noticeable. Speakers and headphone SQ about the only areas the One > N5. If you prefer the One construction and styling (and I do think it is nice) then One > N5. I personally would take the N5 bigger screen and wireless charging over the One’s speakers and aluminium build.

  5. >> Moto X thrived without amazing specs

    That works for the Moto X because its OS is much more streamlined and highly optimized. Samsung isn’t well known for doing that. My wife’s Note 3 doesn’t always feel as snappy as my Moto X even though it has a much faster processor and more RAM.

    • TheInfamousGuest 1 year ago

      The Moto X is a decent device,but it did not thrive…as sales were pass poor despite being well recieved by the tech community.

  6. CharlesGuest 1 year ago

    I think missing Optical Image Stabilization is a major disaster for this phone. I was waiting to find out if this phone will have it, and will now look at other phones instead. BAD DECISION by Samsung.

    • Sean LumlyGuest 1 year ago

      It can do stabalization in software. In any case, it will be interesting to see the results given actual shots. The Galaxy S line has always had top-notch cameras that can produce remarkable photos.

  7. PeterGuest 1 year ago

    because s5 has no OIS, I will not buy it!

  8. furryGuest 1 year ago

    The S5 was launch and the crowd of 5000+ was’nt very impressed! We will have to wait for what the competitors has to offer to decide. It is really a pity Samsung that you did not sell us S5 without any doubts. This launch should have been bang and WOW that cause all potential buyers to just forget about any other competitors and just go get the S5. But at last, this is not the case in this bad launch. If they think they have a premium S5 set under wraps, that would be a very bad and unwise marketing strategy as the whole world was waiting so eagerly for this S5 and it drop like a “Oh well just another high end phone, nothing really special”. Have’nt they read of the saying strike while it is hot!!!. If the Ram was 3G and battery was 3200mah, I would go for it even if it is not so nice in design. But then, there are no redeeming factors on S5. What main features available on S5, they are on the other similar competitors handsets (LG Pro G2, Xperia Z2, HTC M8). This is a sad story for S5 launch.

    Note: Heart beat and finger scanner is just gimmicks. I do not have top secret info to hide and what makes you think your phone can be protected by the finger scanner when any app can easily access your contacts or browser history or SDcard if permission is granted. No smart phone is completely secured. The finger scanner is just a sales gimmick! Do not let this be a purchase factor. Screen size, Battery capacity, System memory and less bloat ware is what counts.