Galaxy S23, S23 Plus, ultra cameras: Explaining all the new features

This story is part Samsung eventCNET’s collection of news, tips and advice on Samsung’s most popular products.

Samsung’s flagship lineup for 2023 includes the Galaxy S23, Galaxy S23 Plus It is galaxy s23 ultraand their camera upgrades took up much of the conversation when the phones were unveiled in the Samsung Unpacked last week. There are improvements across the board for the front-facing camera. The $1,200 Ultra phone’s main camera was an upgraded 200-megapixel sensor compared to the 108-megapixel in last year’s Galaxy S22 Ultra.

But what do these camera improvements mean to you? While we’re still in the process of reviewing the Galaxy S23 series and testing its photographic prowess, we can go over all the cameras and standout photo and video features that each phone has.

Every Galaxy S23 phone gets a new front-facing camera

Whether you’re keeping an eye on $800 Galaxy S22, $1000 Galaxy S22 Plus or $1,200 Galaxy S22 Ultraall three phones come with a 12-megapixel selfie camera that you can use to take selfies, record videos of yourself, and make video calls.

The 12-megapixel camera feels like an improvement on paper for the S23 and S23 Plus – each of their predecessors sported a 10-megapixel selfie camera. As far as the Ultra is concerned, the new front-facing camera might seem like a downgrade at first, because the S22 has a 40-megapixel selfie camera. But fewer megapixels isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Samsung has focused on making the new selfie camera better at separating subjects from their background more clearly.

Samsung Galaxy S23 ultra

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My colleague Lisa Eadicicco found out in tests for her S23 Ultra review that the photos taken with the new front camera are equivalent to last year’s device. However, she noted that the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s selfie photos occasionally looked unnatural, exaggerating the hair color, compared to photos taken with the selfie cameras on the Pixel 7 Pro It is iPhone 14 Pro. She also said the S23 Ultra’s selfie camera takes better night portraits over last year’s S22 Ultra.

The new camera also supports Super HDR, which enhances color, contrast and brightness for videos shot at 4K 60fps.

Speaking of video, all rear cameras in the S23 lineup can record video at 8K 30fps, up from 8K 24fps last year. Galaxy S22 Line. In terms of frame rates, 30 fps is widely supported on apps like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. The 8K 30fps setting isn’t really geared towards everyday use. But 8K can be useful if you intend to play your videos on a larger 8K compatible screen or if you are recording footage for a movie like Samsung often hints during its announcement. It’s also worth noting that 8K videos typically take up more space than those shot in 4K or HD.

Samsung has also increased the field of view on the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s camera when recording in 8K, which is great considering the cropping was pretty severe on previous Galaxy S phones that support 8K. The S21 and S22 series made images shot in 8K on the main wide-angle camera look like they were taken on a telephoto lens.

The three rear cameras on the Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus

The triple rear-facing cameras on the Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus are pretty much the same as their predecessors, hardware-wise, but Samsung says it’s made improvements behind the scenes in elements like dynamic range and glare reduction. We haven’t tested the Galaxy S23 and S23 Plus yet, but those changes have certainly been noticeable on the Galaxy S23 Ultra. Otherwise, Samsung has removed the camera bulge, giving the cameras on the S23 and S23 Plus a similar look and feel to those found on the S23 Ultra.

So what does each camera do?

The three cameras of the Galaxy S23

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Let’s start with the main camera, which has a wide-angle lens and is positioned in the middle of the other two cameras. This will be your daily driver. The main camera gives you the option to shoot at 50 megapixels, however full resolution images need to be taken in ideal lighting conditions to capture the best quality. You may have 50 million pixels to work with, but unlike the newer mirrorless cameras or DSLRs of the past, the phone’s sensors and their pixels are incredibly small and don’t absorb as much light. This leads to more noise in the image and the need to use more noise reduction processing, which can make details look soft and your photo look bad.

Instead, Samsung’s camera app defaults to 12-megapixel photos, which combine groups of individual pixels to act as a single, larger pixel. The process is called pixel binning and results in less image noise and higher quality photos in low and medium light conditions (think inside a dark restaurant).

To know more: What exactly is pixel binning?

Then you have the 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera at the top of the camera array, identical to that of its predecessor. If you want to capture more of your surroundings, pinch the screen to switch to this camera and its 120-degree field of view. The ultra-wide angle is ideal for capturing landscapes, and its exaggerated look makes for dramatic videos. It’s a fun camera to use when you shoot in slow motion.

Lastly, you have the 10-megapixel telephoto camera, at the bottom of the array, with its 3x optical zoom lens. Telephoto cameras can better capture distant objects, subjects and backgrounds. Zooming in can help remove distracting elements from the frame. It’s also the camera you’ll use for portrait mode photos.

And of course, you can use Single Shot mode to take photos from all three rear cameras simultaneously.

The four cameras of the Galaxy S23 Ultra

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

The Galaxy S23 Ultra’s four rear cameras include a 200-megapixel main camera

Samsung has saved its biggest camera upgrades for its premium flagship Galaxy S23 Ultra. Unlike the other two phones in the S23 series, the Ultra has a quad rear camera system, noted in the image below.

The S23 Ultra’s pièce de résistance is a new main camera that has a massive 200-megapixel sensor – nearly double the resolution offered by the Galaxy S22 Ultra. As mentioned in the previous section, you probably won’t need to shoot at the highest resolution unless you plan on making large photo prints. Like the S23 and S23 Plus, the Ultra’s main camera takes 12-megapixel photos by default using pixel binning. In the case of Ultra, it just has more pixels it can pack together, which results in better looking, brighter images with less image noise, even in low light.

Samsung Galaxy S23 ultra

The S23 Ultra has four rear cameras.

James Martin/CNET

The new sensor also features Super Quad Pixel, an improved autofocus system that uses groups of 2×2 pixels to help the camera focus on details like skylines or tree trunks, even when it’s dark. The S23 Ultra also supports the Expert Raw app, which lets you capture photos using Samsung’s computational algorithms and save your snap as a raw file to retain more image data and greater dynamic range. Raw files are generally larger than JPEG files, but are more ideal for photo editing as they contain more image information and settings. Samsung’s Expert Raw app supports all of the S23 Ultra’s cameras, and when you install the app, its controls are added to the native camera app.

Along with the main camera, there’s also a 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera, with a 120-degree field of view, and two telephoto cameras instead of the one found on the S23 and S23 Plus. The first telephoto lens has a 3x optical zoom, while the second has a 10x optical zoom. The second telephoto camera also has a 100x digital zoom, but the more you zoom in, the noisier the images appear. If the 10x telephoto is anything like previous Galaxy Ultra phones, its digital zoom should take decent shots at 25x to 30x magnification, far beyond what the Pixel 7 Pro or iPhone 14 Pro can manage.

Want to know more about the Galaxy S23? check out our Galaxy S23 Ultra review, how can you pre-order galaxy s23 right now It is why Samsung’s future premium phones could be harder to afford.

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