Monday, March 8

Samsung isn’t exploiting the full photo potential, according to DxOMark

Info Frandroid – The photo and video quality of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is currently being tested by specialist DxOMark. Before publishing its final report and the rating assigned to the smartphone, the laboratory shares some feedback with us. In general terms: the device is very good, but could better use its sensors, especially for zooms.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra grip

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra in hand // Gamesdone: Arnaud Gelineau – Frandroid

Presented a few weeks ago, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra marked the beginning of the year 2021 with its imprint. This premium smartphone offers a slew of new features, but it stands out in particular for its impressive photo module composed, among other things, of a main 108 megapixel sensor and two telephoto lenses for optical zooms x3 and x10. It is therefore quite natural that the specialist in photo testing, DxOMark, is interested in it closely.

The Galaxy S21 Ultra is currently being tested by the lab on its photo and video capabilities. DxOMark will publish its final report in a few days with the rating assigned to the product, a moment still eagerly awaited by manufacturers. To be patient, the expert nevertheless agreed to share his initial feedback with us.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra module photo

The imposing photo module of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra // Gamesdone: Arnaud Gelineau – Frandroid

You will therefore find here a small overview of the main remarks of DxOMark on the flagship of Samsung before the full verdict. A first glimpse already rich in lessons.

Galaxy S21 Ultra could be better in photos

Overall, the lab recognizes excellent photo and video quality on the Galaxy S21 Ultra. However, in-house engineers regret the performance “ below what we could expect “. More precisely, “ with such characteristics, we could have had something better », Summarizes Pierre-Yves Maitre, image quality manager at DxOMark.

The information to remember is therefore not that the smartphone is bad, far from it, but that it does not exploit its full potential. With such a large main sensor and with such versatility, it could have gone even further.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra back lying

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra // Gamesdone: Arnaud Gelineau – Frandroid

This is the reason why DxOMark offers some areas for improvement. Those in charge of the tests start by giving us a few positive points that they particularly appreciated, before going on to discuss the points that annoy them.

Successful integration of all sensors

With regard to the photo, the laboratory thus emphasizes an excellent dynamic range and pleasant colors ” typical of Samsung cameras »As well as a very well-controlled integration of the four main sensors (108 mpx, ultra wide-angle, x3 and x10).

DxOMark explains that it is not necessarily easy to offer a smooth software experience with so many sensors, but that Samsung is doing very well. For example, tests show that, when gradually zooming in from ultra wide-angle (x0.6) to digital x100 magnification, the passage from one sensor to another is almost transparent thanks to a good control and consistency of “three A»: Auto-exposure, auto-white balance and autofocus.

Almost no jerk is observed. There is still room for improvement, but the Galaxy S21 Ultra is very clearly at the top of the basket in this exercise. “For the user, there is really an impression of transparency, good finishes», Confides Pierre-Yves Maitre.

Better than the iPhone 12 Pro Max on some points

In its tests, DxOMark compares the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra a lot to the iPhone 12 Pro Max and the Huawei Mate 40 Pro, two leaders in terms of photo quality. However, in its management of the dynamics, the South Korean champion is doing better than the flagship of Apple and does less well than the Chinese competitor than in the most difficult conditions.

In the exercise below, the Galaxy S21 Ultra indeed preserves the colors and details in the foreground well while offering a very faithful rendering of the clouds in the sky in the distance.

DxOMark Galaxy S21 Ultra dynamic test

The dynamics of the photo are better managed on the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra than on the iPhone 12 Pro Max // Gamesdone: DxOMark

Before tackling the more negative points, also note that DxOMark observes that the shots at very long focal lengths on the Galaxy S21 Ultra are better than those of the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Below, for example, the two shots were taken 9 meters from the immortalized scene with illumination at 1000 lux.

Even by bringing the phone closer to Apple at 5 meters, it does not manage to surpass the rival of the Samsung team remained at 9 meters.

Recall that we observed similar disparities in the quality of the zooms when we compared the Galaxy S21 Ultra and the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

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Galaxy S21 Ultra disappoints DxOMark on noise management

You have additional proof above, the Galaxy S21 Ultra offers very good photo quality and this emerges in the first observations made by DxOMark. However, the specialist in the sector points to something else: a kind of frustration. Indeed, he believes that Samsung has integrated ahardwareextremely premium on its flagship, but that it does not take advantage of it as much as it should.

This criticism applies in particular to the management of noise in the image. With a large 1 / 1.33 inch main sensor, the phone should be able to pick up light well to handle it effectively in a variety of situations. Unfortunately, DxOMark regrets some weaknesses in low light and in the shadow areas of photos taken during the day.

Example on the following scene. If we linger on the panel in the foreground, we see that it suffers from a marked luminance noise on the Samsung model that we do not find on the side of the Mate 40 Pro. That is, we can distinguish a grainy appearance in the image.

The iPhone 12 Pro Max is also doing better and even offers to display a much better sharpness on this plan of Boulogne-Billancourt.

So here we have one of the main criticisms made by DxOMark to the Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Luminance noise on the Galaxy S21 Ultra according to DxOMark

On dark areas, the Galaxy S21 Ultra does not effectively erase luminance noise // Gamesdone: DxOMark

However, it does not stop there, there is another important point to improve according to DxOMark.

A perfectible zoom for more versatility

As we have already said, the Galaxy S21 Ultra has the chance to embed two telephoto lenses which allow it to have nice x3 and x10 optical zooms. It is not on these magnification factors that the caveats underlined by DxOMark bear, but rather on the intermediate zoom levels.

For these photos, the two telephoto lenses work together. In the center of the image, the Galaxy S21 Ultra therefore relies on the information from the x10 zoom, while the x3 zoom takes over at the periphery of the shots. However, the fusion between the two sensors is not very well managed and we can very clearly see a line appearing in the image. Look at the zoomed image below: we can clearly see the place from which the x10 zoom leaves the hand at x3 as the noise level is higher at the edges.

Galaxy S21 Ultra zoom test by DxoMark

The fusion between the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s x3 and x10 optical zooms is not very good on intermediate magnifications. // Gamesdone: DxOMark

This inconsistency will cost the Galaxy S21 Ultra valuable points in DxOMark’s final test. Beyond that, laboratory tests also show ashutter lagtoo important on the photos in HDR. This means that under these conditions, the phone takes a little too long between the release of the shutter and the moment when the shot is captured.

A quick word on the video

DxOMark also focused on the video recording quality of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. Among the positive points, the very good management of dynamics is praised, particularly on the rendering of very bright areas that are not overexposed. 4K at 60 frames per second is also cited among the strengths for the details and fluidity of the images it allows.

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Alas, it’s that same 4K / 60 fps that prevents the Galaxy S21 Ultra from perfectly reducing digital noise in low light. That is why “some competitors choose to reduce the framerate to 30 fps”Under these conditions explains DxOMark. Strangely enough, image stabilization and noise reduction algorithms can also cause “floating effects ».

When filming a landscape for example, the elements in the distance can indeed give the impression of not moving in the same plane as those in the foreground. Because of this visual effect, they almost seem to float independently.

Defects that can be corrected

What is interesting in the analysis of DxOMark is that the faults pointed out are not crippling. Again, thehardwarepremium is there and the elements pointed out by the specialist are rather related to the software settings made by Samsung. In other words, the South Korean giant is criticized more for its choices than for the material used.

A final example makes it clear. Below, we can see the photo of a person indoors and in low light. In reality, the atmosphere was a little yellowish orange as we can see on the photo of the Mate 40 Pro (the iPhone 12 Pro Max applies a somewhat similar colorimetric treatment). The Galaxy S21 Ultra, it tries to recover a more natural color for the skin.

The will is commendable, but in the process, Samsung’s phone makes a ton of noise and doesn’t even make up for it by offering more face detail. Finally, we therefore lose the atmosphere of the scene, the sharpness and we have a grainy effect in exchange. Too bad.

DxOMark test Galaxy S21 Ultra low light

On this person’s face, the Galaxy S21 Ultra suffers from too high a noise level // Gamesdone: DxOMark

However, the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s photo module is quite able to provide a high quality image under these conditions. It is really a question of software processing to be refined.

Remember, moreover, that it is the very essence of DxOMark to help smartphone manufacturers find the best adjustments and the best compromises.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra dos

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has a matte glass back, here in its black version // Gamesdone: Arnaud Gelineau – Frandroid

There is no evidence that Samsung will come up with an update to correct all of the points raised by DxOMark, but let’s just say it’s within the realm of possibilities. Fortunately, the brand does not need to replace the hardware part of its Galaxy S21 Ultra. It’s all about the software.

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