Since having some serious hands-on time with the new Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, I was very pleased about how great the phone has been with general usage with cutting edge features. If there is one aspect with smartphones that has always eluded me (not for a lack of trying) is to actually be able to take great photos. I have had hands on time with other brands with most recently being a OnePlus that I switched over from, which all had great cameras and served basic photo taking adequately but never made me feel exploring photography beyond that.
That all changed with the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra.
And just to preface that, for those who have access to the latest and greatest, I’ve read impressions of how there is good marginal improvements over the years but for me having this true generational leap just feels instantly impressive without much tweaking or effort. With that being said for those (who like me have always been interested but aways has less than desirable results) I just thought to share a few things I’ve learnt on my own photography journey.
The S23 Ultra’s Zoom Is Kind Of Insane
So just to add a little context of what the zooms can do, the S23 Ultra has two different zoom features with the standard optical zoom using the telephoto lens goes from 3x to 10x. Anything further than 10x will automatically be switching to the digital zoom which goes all the way to 100x but of course at the cost of quality. From my own observations, the maximum zoom that I feel takes some good photos would be at 30x as anything past that point results in some really grainy photos because of the digital processing and also just for it being much harder to get a steady shot without a tripod.
From the pictures below, both sets of pictures were taken from the same top deck of a building overlooking the coastal area and zooming in with just with the 30x in Photo Mode (focusing in the direction of the highlighted area), I managed to capture a shot of the docked boat and the building construction in the distance. Sure, there is a bit of quality loss but that picture at 30x has no business looking as good as it does from that distance. I did test going further but as expected the picture quality was quite degraded.
Impressive Low Light Photos
This picture below was taken in an almost pitch black room with the only light source around the corner (so I don’t knock stuff around in the dark) and it really took me by surprise. Most smartphone cameras I have tested with similar conditions usually result in just a slightly brighter photo with muted colours betraying that it was taken in low light conditions, but even with softer features around the photo above, the vibrancy of the colours captured caught me off guard. Mind you the Jazz Club Lego set does not pop even in darkness so to see it enhanced in this way was truly eye opening.
Appreciating The Dynamism Offered
As you will see below, I was having a bit of fun capturing shots in the standard Photo Mode as well as with the Portrait Mode. Although the standard Photo Mode is capable of capturing some very impressive shots, bumping it up to the higher megapixel count does lose a bit of what the phone’s own internal processing power can do in enhancing the photos itself. With Portrait Mode I was able to capture some pretty impressive (by my standards of course) focusing on the right subjects to get exactly the kind of shots I was trying to create. What’s also very convenient is how if I need an extra bit of quality check, I can just remaster the photos on the S23 Ultra immediately and even get a direct comparison slider of before and after to choose as I please.
With the new S23 Ultra camera, I really felt much more comfortable taking photos because at least it feels like I’m capturing something special and not just another standard photo with the added benefit of not needing so much extra editing work involved after (but if you want to its easy to do as well). Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but this makes me motivated to take more photos knowing that even someone as ungifted as me is able to capture moments of magic.
At least now when family or friends ask me to take photos for them, I’m greeted with “wow this looks amazing” rather than secretly retaking it with someone else.
With that being said do check out some of what I managed to capture below with the S23 Ultra.