All the Camera Features on the Samsung Galaxy S22 series: Adaptive Pixel, Nona-binning, and more!
Samsung’s flagship smartphone series for 2022 is out and it consists of three new devices — the Galaxy S22, Galaxy S22+, and the Galaxy S22 Ultra. As always, the new Galaxy S22 series devices improve on their predecessors in various departments. The biggest improvement can be seen on the Galaxy S22 Ultra, which has now taken the place of the popular Galaxy Note series as it comes with a built-in S Pen. In addition, Samsung has also improved the cameras on all three phones. Along with new sensors, Samsung has also included a bunch of new camera features on the Galaxy S22 series. Let’s take a look at these new camera features and how you can benefit from them.
Before we begin, let’s first take a look at the camera hardware on the Galaxy S22 series. The standard Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus feature a triple camera setup consisting of a 50MP primary sensor with a focal length of 23mm and f/1.8 aperture. This is the sensor that you’ll probably use the most and, on paper, it seems like a good improvement over the 12MP shooter found on the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Plus.
Samsung Galaxy S22 series: Camera Hardware
|Specification||Galaxy S22||Galaxy S22 Plus||Galaxy S22 Ultra|
|Primary Camera||50MP, f/1.8||50MP, f/1.8||108MP, f/1.8|
|Secondary Camera||Ultra-wide: 12MP, f/2.2||Ultra-wide: 12MP, f/2.2||Ultra-wide: 12MP, f/2.2|
|Tertiary Camera||Telephoto: 10MP, f/2.4, 3X||Telephoto: 10MP, f/2.4, 3X||Telephoto: 10MP, f/2.4, 3X|
|Quarternary Camera||–||–||Telephoto: 10MP, f/4.9, 10X|
|Front Camera||10MP, f/2.2||10MP, f/2.2||40MP, f/2.2|
|Extra Modules||–||–||Laser Auto Focus|
The primary camera is accompanied by two additional cameras that offer varied perspectives. There’s a 12MP ultra-wide camera with a 120° FoV and f/2.2 aperture. Finally, there’s a telephoto lens with a 10MP sensor and f/2.4 aperture. The telephoto lens has 3X optical zoom capabilities which can extend up to 30X digital zoom that Samsung refers to as Space Zoom. The resolution is down to 10MP from last year’s 64MP sensor, but Samsung claims to have made improvements in the way the sensor is used, which results in better pictures. If you take a lot of selfies, the devices feature a 10MP f/2.2 sensor over on the front.
Needless to say, the Galaxy S22 Ultra has a superior camera setup since it’s a top-of-the-line device. The primary camera features a 108MP sensor, just like on the Galaxy S21 Ultra. It has a focal length of 23mm and f/1.8 aperture. The 12MP ultrawide camera from the standard S22 with a 120° FoV and f/2.2 aperture also makes its way to the S22 Ultra along with the 10MP 3X telephoto lens. However, there is one additional sensor on the Galaxy S22 Ultra — a 10MP 10X optical zoom camera that can achieve a digital zoom or Space Zoom of up to 100X.
The 3X telephoto lens is mainly to shoot close-up objects or take portrait mode images. Generally, pictures taken via the Portrait Mode tend to look better when shot on a telephoto lens. This is where the 3X lens comes in. As far as the 10X lens is concerned, it can be used to capture far-off objects like animals and birds in the wild, or when combined with that 100X Space Zoom, it can take some crisp shots of the night sky. In addition, the Galaxy S22 Ultra has a laser autofocus sensor that assists the primary camera. Samsung has gone all-in even on the front of the Galaxy S22 Ultra with a 40MP f/2.2 selfie camera.
The primary and telephoto sensors on all three phones in the Galaxy S22 series feature OIS. If you want a complete powerhouse in terms of camera capabilities, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is the perfect pick. It’s got the most versatile camera setup and the range of focal lengths that should have you covered in most situations. Apart from the solid hardware, Samsung has included a ton of new software features that takes full advantage of the hardware to produce some great-looking shots. Let’s go over those now.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Series Camera Features: Nona-binning and Tetra-binning
If you’ve been following the smartphone landscape for the past few years, you would realize that brands have started to use camera sensors with very high megapixel counts. While a large megapixel number doesn’t necessarily indicate better camera performance, it can serve two purposes — capture more details and provide a marketing advantage.
However, using a sensor with a high megapixel count like 50MP and 108MP means that the file size of every single picture captured is going to be extremely high. This isn’t ideal since smartphones have limited storage. If a single image is 50-60MB in size, you will end up filling a large chunk of your phone’s storage pretty soon. Another slight drawback of cramming in so many pixels in a camera sensor is that the size of each individual pixel ends up being small.
To tackle both these issues, smartphone brands make use of a technique referred to as pixel binning. Pixel binning essentially combines a set of neighboring pixels into one large pixel. This way, the size of one pixel becomes considerably larger, resulting in better photographs. It also brings down the size and resolution of the image considerably by a multiple that’s decided by the number of pixels undergoing binning.
The Galaxy S22 Ultra, for example, employs nona-binning which means a 3×3 grid of neighboring pixels (9 of them in total) is combined to form one large pixel. As a result, the 108MP camera, which essentially implies that there are 108 million pixels in the camera sensor, will now produce 12MP images (108 divided by 9). In simple terms, you now have 12 clusters consisting of 9 million pixels each resulting in a total of 108 million pixels or 108MP.
Similarly, the standard Galaxy S22 and the Galaxy S22 Plus use tetra-binning, more commonly referred to as quad-binning. Instead of combining 9 pixels, tetra-binning combines four neighboring pixels in a 2×2 grid into one large pixel. As a result, the 50MP primary sensor on the Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Plus will click 12.5MP images by default.
Samsung Galaxy S22 series: Software Features
Powerful hardware is often not very useful unless it’s supported by good software. Samsung’s camera software has always been feature-rich and it’s only getting better with the Galaxy S22 series. Apart from the usual set of features like Single Take, Multi-camera video, and AI modes, there are several new features that Samsung has added this time around. These features either work in the background to optimize your pictures or offer additional modes in the camera app for specific scenes. Here are the top camera features of the Samsung Galaxy S22 series.
Advanced Auto Framing
This feature is exactly what it sounds like. The Galaxy S22 series devices are smart enough to detect the subjects you’re shooting from the camera. The phones can detect up to 10 subjects and optimize the focus of the shot accordingly. Up until now, we had seen phone cameras optimize the scene based on the subject. This automatically adjusted the colors, saturation, contrast, etc. based on the type of shot you were taking. With Advanced Auto Framing, Samsung is taking things to the next level by automatically framing the shot for you based on the position of your subject.
Thanks to this feature, the Galaxy S22 series phones can lock focus onto your subject and automatically adjust the zoom range to either get closer to the subject or move farther away, depending on the scene. If you’re taking a picture of a tall building or a landscape, the phone will automatically zoom out to fit as much as possible into the frame. If you’re taking a picture of a person, the phone will punch in and lock focus on the face to create a portrait-like effect.
Super Steady System & Advanced OIS
This feature involves both a hardware element as well as some software processing. All three phones in the Galaxy S22 series have Optical Image Stabilization, more commonly known as OIS, on the primary camera. Super Steady System essentially combines OIS with software-based Electronic Image Stabilization (or EIS) to produce extremely stable videos. This helps the phone capture almost perfectly stabilized videos without any jitters.
The advanced OIS system not only helps with videos but also keeps the phone steady when clicking pictures in low-light situations. This is important, since keeping the phone still while clicking pictures with a higher shutter speed is important to avoid blurry images.
This feature is also pretty straightforward. Samsung’s take on the Night Mode is now called Nightography, a wordplay on Night + Photography. Samsung claims that the new Galaxy S22 series devices, specifically the Galaxy S22 Ultra, feature the brand’s most advanced camera for capturing both photos and videos in low-light situations. Nightography essentially uses multi-frame stacking to get as much light as possible into your shot with the least amount of noise. The Galaxy S22 Ultra also has a 23% larger pixel size, which further improves performance in dimly lit environments.
If you’re going to take a lot of pictures and videos at night, Nightography will surely help you capture better images in low light. Be it cityscapes at night or a constellation of stars in the sky, you will be able to capture them all in the best possible way with Nightography.
Like I mentioned earlier, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra has a 108MP camera sensor that uses nona-binning to produce 12MP shots. This is done to save storage space and attain a larger pixel size. However, capturing a 108MP image has its own advantages, especially when it comes to minute details. This is exactly why Samsung has come up with a hybrid solution called Adaptive Pixel.
Instead of capturing a single photo in either 108MP or 12MP, Adaptive Pixel captures the same shot in both resolutions and then merges the two images into one. This way, you get the details of the 108MP shot while also capturing more light from the increased pixel size. The size of the final image is also kept in check. This seems like a helpful technique that can considerably improve your camera experience.
AI Stereo Depth Map
Samsung is making good use of Artificial Intelligence or AI algorithms on the Galaxy S22 series to capture the best shots. The AI Stereo Depth Map feature uses the AI engine to create a depth map that accurately calculates the distance between the subject and the phone and then accurately picks out small details that could otherwise be missed. A good example of this is when you’re taking portrait mode shots.
Generally, while clicking portrait images, the artificial background blur or bokeh that is applied can be inaccurate depending on the subject and other elements present in both the background and foreground. As a result, some portions of the image that were meant to be in focus get blurred or parts that were supposed to be blurred remain in focus.
Using AI Stereo Depth Map, Samsung has been able to solve that issue by accurately detecting small elements like individual strands of hair. This ensures that when you’re clicking an image of a person, every single aspect, right from the hair to other accessories like spectacles, is kept in focus while the background is blurred.
Advanced Portrait Mode
This works in tandem with the AI Stereo Depth map feature to produce portrait mode images that look good and have accurate edge detection. The algorithm is tweaked to work both in the day and at night when there’s not a lot of light illuminating the subject. The feature also works on the selfie camera, so if you take a lot of selfies for your Instagram, you’re covered here as well.
Apart from the obvious subjects for most portrait mode shots — humans — Samsung also claims that they’ve worked on the portrait mode algorithm to work well with pets. If you constantly take photos of your pets, you can now use portrait mode and the AI onboard will try to ensure that you capture a clear picture of your pet with a blurred background.
Expert RAW App
This is the section that most camera nerds like me are going to be excited about. There are two types of people who take photos via a smartphone — the average user who just points at a subject and clicks and pro users who want absolute control over the shots they take. Samsung has a dedicated Pro Mode built right into the camera app, which is important if you target professionals (take note, Apple and Google).
Apart from the Pro Mode, Samsung has also introduced the Expert RAW App for the Galaxy S22 series, which gives users multiple export and edit options. You get granular controls in the camera app that you can tinker around with before you click your pictures. Of course, since there’s RAW in the name, you can click high-quality 16-bit RAW images from the Samsung Galaxy S22 series.
The app also offers support for wide dynamic range using multi-frame synthesis. You can use all four lenses on the Galaxy S22 Ultra in the Expert RAW app — the primary 108MP camera, the ultra-wide lens, and both telephoto cameras depending on what you’re shooting. As for the controls that you get within the app, there’s ISO, Shutter Speed, Histogram, Focus points, and more. Think of this as a mode that’s dedicated to people who often use professional cameras in manual mode.
The Expert RAW app also gives users the option to export images directly to the Adobe Lightroom app from where you can edit individual pictures to your liking, either by using manual sliders or by using presets. Those who shoot in RAW would be aware that images exported in that format require color-grading so this can be a helpful feature if you click a lot of RAW images.
Of course, there are plenty of other features in the camera app on the Galaxy S22 series including a macro mode that uses the ultra-wide angle camera to capture close-up objects. There’s also a multi-camera mode known as Director’s View that basically lets you shoot videos via multiple cameras together either in a Picture-in-picture format or as separate clips. This is helpful for those who shoot vlogs on their smartphones.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra was one of the best camera phones last year, both in terms of the quality of images captured as well as the versatility in terms of the available lenses for all situations. The Galaxy S22 Ultra carries that forward with further improvements in terms of hardware and software. Of course, it’s too early to say anything right now since it’s the beginning of the year and brands have only started to launch their flagships. But the Galaxy S22 Ultra seems to be a great camera phone on paper. Will it be the phone to beat this year when it comes to smartphone photography? Stay tuned for our review to know more!
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