What’s new in the Galaxy S21 cameras?

What’s new in the Galaxy S21 cameras?

The Samsung Galaxy S21 smartphones have finally arrived, and they add to the Galaxy S lineup’s legacy of innovation. With the latest Galaxy S21 devices, we see major improvements in several areas, including performance — thanks to the Snapdragon 888 or the new Exynos 2100 chipset, security with the more efficient ultrasonic fingerprint scanner, improved software experience with One UI 3.1, UWB, and a lot more. The new Galaxy devices also get a host of new camera features — even though Samsung uses almost the same camera hardware as the previous generation.

In this article, we will discuss an entire lot of new software and hardware additions to the Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21 Plus, and the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Before we begin, he is an overview of the camera specifications of the latest Galaxy series:


Samsung Galaxy S21 series: Camera Specifications

Camera Specifications Samsung Galaxy S21 Samsung Galaxy S21+ Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Rear Camera(s)
  • Primary: 12MP, wide-angle lens, f/1.8, 1/1.76″, 1.8µm, OIS, Dual Pixel AF
  • Secondary: 12MP, ultra-wide-angle lens, f/2.2, 120° FoV, 1/2.55″, 1.4µm, Fixed Focus
  • Tertiary: 64MP, telephoto lens, f/2.0, 1/1.76″, 0.8µm, PDAF, OIS
  • Primary: 12MP, wide-angle lens, f/1.8, 1/1.76″, 1.8µm, OIS, Dual Pixel AF
  • Secondary: 12MP, ultra-wide-angle lens, f/2.2, 120° FoV, 1/2.55″, 1.4µm, Fixed Focus
  • Tertiary: 64MP, telephoto lens, f/2.0, 1/1.76″, 0.8µm, PDAF, OIS
  • Primary: 108 MP, wide-angle lens, f/1.8, 79°, 24mm, 1/1.33″, 0.8µm (pre-nona-binning), OIS, PDAF, Laser AF
  • Secondary: 12 MP, ultra-wide-angle lens, f/2.2, 120° FoV, 13mm, 1/2.55″, 1.4 µm, Dual Pixel AF
  • Tertiary: 10 MP, telephoto lens, f/2.4, 35°, 72mm, 1/3.24″, 1.22µm, OIS, 3x optical zoom, Dual Pixel AF
  • Quaternary: 10 MP, telephoto lens, f/4.9, 10°, 240mm, 1/3.24″, 1.22µm, OIS, 10x optical zoom, Dual Pixel AF


  • 4K @ 60fps across all front and rear cameras
Front Camera(s) 10MP, f/2.2, 1.22µm, 80° FoV, Dual Pixel AF 10MP, f/2.2, 1.22µm, 80° FoV, Dual Pixel AF 40MP, f/2.2, 0.7µm, 80° FoV, PDAF

Samsung Galaxy S21 plus ultra Series

Samsung Galaxy S21, S21 Plus, and S21 Ultra Photography Features

Single Take 2.0

Samsung introduced the Single Take feature last year with the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. It allows users to capture fast-changing scenarios by recording a short video clip of up to 10 seconds instead of just one single photo and then letting them pick what fits the best according to their needs.

With the Galaxy S21 series, Samsung has announced Single Take 2.0 that now captures more frames each second. Now, the feature also records the section as a slow-motion video clip so you can share the most action-packed events with great detail and the added dramatic effect of slow-mo.

8K Video Snap

Just like the Single Take 2.0 mode, the Galaxy S21 devices can also capture a short 8K video clip to ensure that you don’t miss any crucial moment. This video clip can eventually render an image in 8K resolution (or approximately 32MP).

Enhanced Portrait Mode and DSLR-like Bokeh

Samsung claims to have greatly improved the portrait mode on the Galaxy S21 devices. The images now use AI to emulate a professional camera. The phones use AI for three-dimensional depth, sensing to achieve a more natural-looking background blur. Besides, the AI also enhances portraits to look like they were shot under studio lighting.

Furthermore, the Galaxy S21 smartphones also receive various face-lighting effects in the portrait mode, similar to the stage lighting effects already popularized by the iPhones. The smartphones primarily feature three lighting modes as High-key mono, Low-key mono, and Backdrop for studio-like results.

Samsung ISOCELL HM3 108MP sensor on Galaxy S21 Ultra

With the Galaxy S21 series, Samsung announced its latest ISOCELL HM3 sensor which succeeds the recently announced ISOCELL HM2. The ISOCELL HM3 sensor is 1/1.33″ in size with pixels measuring 0.8μm — just like the ISOCELL HMX and HM1 sensors. With the help of 9-in-1 pixel binning, the sensor captures 12MP images by default with large resultant pixels measuring 2.4μm.

Although the ISOCELL HM3 resembles the HMX and HM1 sensors in terms of specifications, it comes with improved color and exposure perception. In addition to the ISOCELL Plus technology that improves the sensor’s efficiency, it supports 12-bit color recording and allows it to capture 64x more colors than the previous generations. Additionally, the Smart ISO Pro widens the range for HDR photography while the Super PD Plus feature allows for 50% more accurate autofocussing.

12-bit HDR and 12-bit RAW photography

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is also capable of capturing photos with HDR and RAW shots in 12-bit. This means that images in this mode will have about 68 million colors — or 64 times the colors in a 10-bit image. As you can expect, this allows for a finer transition between one color to another on a photograph, essentially eliminating color noise to a great degree. An average user may not detect the difference between 10-bit and 12-bit color, but the upgrade is of great importance to professional photographers.

Dual telephoto cameras and 100x Space Zoom

Samsung is reintroducing the 100x Space Zoom with the Galaxy S21 Ultra. But unlike the Galaxy S20 Ultra, which only features a 4x telephoto setup, the Galaxy S21 Ultra features a more advanced 10x periscope camera for crisper long-range images. Inarguably, this is among the most advanced telephoto cameras available on any handheld device.

To top it up, Samsung also offers a secondary telephoto camera set at 3x optical zoom. The company claims there is a seamless and automatic transition between the two telephoto cameras based on the level of the zoom or focal range at which you are attempting to shoot.

Zoom Lock

To ensure that the long focal range does not hamper users’ ability to pan and focus, the Galaxy S21 Ultra comes with AI-backed stabilization to improve OIS. The smartphone also features “Zoom Lock” that uses AI to add a slight delay while moving the smartphone to ensure the panning is smooth and non-jittery. Samsung also claims the Zoom Lock feature will provide tripod-like stabilization, which may actually be the case. Check out a demonstration of the feature in our Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra hands-on article or the video below:

Samsung Galaxy S21, S21 Plus, and S21 Ultra Video Features

Unlimited video recording

As Samsung made quite evident at the Galaxy Unpacked event, the Galaxy S21 smartphones are meant not to limit users in any way, especially when it comes to video recording. There is no automatic cut-off timer, and you can keep recording videos as long as you desire.

Director’s View

The Galaxy S21 series is a no-compromise device in terms of performance. This allows smartphones to have some truly amazing features, such as the Director’s View. This feature allows users to record a video using multiple cameras and from different viewpoints. Simultaneously, the feature also gives users the liberty to switch between any of the cameras mid-roll without having to stop or pause the video.

Vlogger View

The Vlogger View on Galaxy S21 smartphones allows users to use the front camera alongside the rear camera. This allows video content producers, especially vloggers — whom this mode is named after, to capture their reactions while also recording something from the rear camera.

Multi mic recording

With the Galaxy Note 20 series, Samsung launched the Video Pro mode. In that mode, users could switch among different microphone modes while recording a video. The Galaxy S21 series takes a step further with this feature that allows users to use multiple microphones to be used as simultaneous audio sources. Using this feature, you will be able to record audio with the microphones on the smartphone and the Buds Pro simultaneously.

4K recording at 60fps across all 5 cameras

All five cameras on the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra can record hyper-smooth 60fps videos at 4K resolution. Alongside the above-mentioned features, such as unlimited video recording and Director’s View, [email protected] video recording makes the Galaxy S21 Ultra a supreme device for video recording.

When will the Galaxy S20 series get these camera features?

Samsung has a kind heart when it comes to bringing new features to older smartphones, and the same can be true for some of these features — at least those that can easily run on older hardware. While Samsung does not categorically clarify the availability of these features on older flagships, make sure to check out the XDA News Portal for any updates.

    The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is the ultimate overkill in the new 2021 flagship series, packing in a flagship SoC, a premium build, a great display, and an amazing camera setup, as well as all the extras expected on a premium flagship.

About author

Tushar Mehta
Tushar Mehta

I am a Senior Editor at XDA. I have been reviewing gadgets for over five years and gained experience by working for prominent tech publications in India before joining XDA. I enjoy fiddling with all smart objects and my love for software customization dates back to the Symbian S60 days. I like to devote my spare time idealizing the romantic union of technology and philosophy or spacing out on Pink Floyd. You may email me at [email protected]

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