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How to get a Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra camera for less money

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So far, only influencers have held the first test devices of the Galaxy S20(+) and S20 Ultra in their hands. The new high-end smartphones have not yet reached the mass market either. Samsung, however, never tires of banging the advertising drum. In the latest support article, the South Koreans proudly present seven new tricks of the cameras. What is so exciting about them, and where you can already find similar features, we will show you in this article.

Samsung has equipped its new smartphones, which will soon be on the market for lots of money, with the best camera and chipset technology available. In response to Samsung's new article, we want to show you that similar fun and good photos are possible with phones that don't cost as much as a used compact car. Some competing smartphones already offer similar features - for significantly less money. So let's go over the promises:

1. Detailed images up to 108 megapixels

For a long time, high megapixel numbers were considered a pure marketing ploy. Consumers and testers quickly realized that image quality depends on many more factors than the number of photo pixels. However, since the 100-megapixel mark has been broken, the game seems to be starting all over again.

samsung galaxy s20 photo details ad
The idea behind the many megapixels in the cameras of the Galaxy S20 seems to be: just take a snapshot and take care of the details later. / © Samsung

Only the particularly expensive Galaxy S20 Ultra gets the 108-megapixel sensor. The smaller Galaxy S20 and S20 Plus get only 64 megapixels. In both cases, we first have to find out in our full review whether the cameras actually output this resolution ex works. Manufacturers often use high-resolution sensors, but reduce the number of pixels in the JPEG files' actual output for many reasons.

By the way, if you're looking for a cheap smartphone with the Galaxy S20 Ultra camera, you'll find it at Xiaomi. Its Mi Note 10 already came on the market in November 2019 and is available in Europe for about €450. That is about a grand less than the Galaxy S20 Ultra. My colleague Stefan tested it extensively and judged that he would leave his DSLR at home at least when traveling.

2. Hybrid zooming

Our colleague Julia has talked extensively about the pseudo-zoom of the Galaxy S20. The experts at Notebookcheck first discovered that the cameras of the new devices only offer an optical magnification of 1.06-times; the rest is cut out as an image section from the - above-mentioned - surplus of sensor pixels and optimized by software.

Galaxy S20 Camera zoom
The space zoom comes almost entirely from the software. / © Samsung

With their software improvements, the Galaxy S20 and S20+ models reach 30x zoom and the S20 Ultra even up to 100x zoom. This is called Space Zoom and is appropriately advertised with images of the moon.

Samsung is thus hitting back after Huawei took the smartphone camera zoom crown last year with the Huawei P30 Pro. In our test, the P30 Pro camera proved its strengths with its 50x hybrid zoom.

3. Still images from videos

Granted: for the time being, the Galaxy S20 will be the only smartphone on which you can record 8K videos. A still image from an 8K video is equivalent (according to Samsung) to a 33-megapixel photo. The catch is that such videos can only be recorded for one minute. The Galaxy S20 then withdraws to process the data mountain. So, how useful 8K videos prove to be in everyday life, the extensive camera test of the Galaxy S20 still has to show - and as you know, we still owe it to you.

Galaxy S20 Camera video still
Still images from an 8K video resolve to 33-megapixels on the Samsung Galaxy S20. / © Samsung

If your current smartphone can only handle 4K recordings, this means a resolution of eight megapixels for still images. This should be more than enough for most snapshots, especially since you're capturing 30 per second. This should also allow fantastic moments like the one above to be preserved optimally.

Samsung is also promoting the fact that 8K videos can be streamed directly to Samsung televisions. Even though the manufacturer is proud of its proprietary solution, wireless transmission from smartphone to TV set has not been a technical miracle since 2015 thanks to Google Cast. Both a FireTV Stick and a Google Chromecast make it possible - directly from the Google Photos app. Granted: only Samsung currently masters all this in 8K.

4. Multiple scenes from one take

Here we have a feature with which the Galaxy S20 could actually stand out from the crowd. Samsung calls it 'Single Take.' You hold your camera for three to ten seconds on an exciting scene (the more movement, the better) and afterwards the software suggests a series of still images and offers to create a video from the material consisting of several cuts.

However, it's only a matter of time before TikTok or Instagram replicate this feature in their apps, making it available to users of the cheaper alternatives to Samsung's new Galaxy S20 smartphones.

5. Software stabilization for videos

Even if the wobbling camera has been made acceptable by modern TV shows and film formats, video recordings should be at least rudimentarily stable. Since smartphone videos, in particular, are rarely shot with a tripod or gimbal, the danger of blurred images is particularly high here.

With 'Super Steady', Samsung wants to calm your shaky recordings right from the start. Here, too, it takes advantage of the generous sensor size and megapixel abundance. Often cropping-based video stabilization comes at the expense of maximum resolution. Here we have to see if Samsung can at least create "super-stable" 4K videos. So it would be on par with the iPhone 11 Pro Max. If you are satisfied with super-stable Full-HD videos, you can get them with older versions of the Google Pixel series. They often change hands on eBay for very little these days.

6. A good night mode

We have known the night mode for photos in smartphones for some time. Here, too, Huawei impressed us with the P30 Pro in our camera test. New, however, is the night mode for videos, which - so the expectation is - will finally make recordings at parties and in the bar look less dark, muddy, blurry and noisy. Whether the smartphones of the Galaxy S20 family achieve such good results as Apple did with the iPhone 11 Pro, we'll have to find out in our test.

AndroidPIT Huawei Mate 20 Pro night 02
The Huawei P30 Pro can also turn night into day - at least in photos. / © NextPit

For smartphones with the Android operating system, the low-light videos of the Sony Xperia 1 are considered the best so far according to MoMo-Filmfest. Its successor Sony Xperia 1 II has already been introduced.

7. Peer-to-peer sharing

Due to the high resolutions of the Galaxy S20 cameras, the data volume of photos and videos is correspondingly large. 8K video will be 600MB per minute - or 10MB per second (!) - after compression. Then you don't want to send the photos and videos to your buddies via WhatsApp - especially since they lose their charm when compressed. Samsung offers to send them via Quick Share to the buddies who are in your immediate vicinity. The catch? You must have a Galaxy device.

Sharing is similarly simple with the Google Files App. Install the app, find friends nearby and connect directly, bypassing the Internet and keeping your data volume untouched. In many cases, it works without an app. In the Share menu, you can find the appropriate tools with Wi-Fi-Direct, Android Beam or similar. These methods automatically establish the fastest available direct connection between two smartphones. In the case of Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac), the data transfer rates are up to 80 MB per second.

If you know of another camera alternative, please leave a comment and share it with us.

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Eric Ferrari-Herrmann

Eric Ferrari-Herrmann
Senior Editor

Eric has been with AndroidPIT since 2014. He’s writing articles and reviews for the German website. Topics are mostly privacy and new technology but there's also the occasional piece on environmental sustainability.

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