Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra – this is the most improved camera feature
One of the first things I tend to do when using a new Samsung Galaxy flagship phone is turn off the additional image processing applied to the camera by default, including the Scene Optimizer mode introduced in recent Galaxy models.
The reason for this is that the image processing done by cameras is usually sufficient, with additional enhancements tending to overcook a photo with too much processing or color saturation, resulting in unnatural shots. And the same goes for Android phones with such features located in the camera settings.
But I changed my mind with the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, and by extension the rest of the Galaxy S22 line. That’s because Samsung really seems to have worked on the clever processing of the Scene Optimizer mode so that it enhances photos in a believable and pleasing way rather than increasing saturation and smoothing.
Samsung has already done a lot to improve the cameras in the Galaxy range, with the S22 phones improving the rather excellent Galaxy S21 handsets, which have improved the Galaxy S10 phones very noticeably. Galaxy phones no longer produce photos with unnatural candy colors, and the dynamic range is now very impressive. These improvements seem to have carried over to the Scene Optimizer mode, which I put to the test with a Galaxy S22 Ultra.
To get started, look at the photo of the flower bed below. It was taken on a beautiful day with a selection of flowers bathed in the kind of sunshine that is rare in London. This presented a difficult photo to capture even for the best camera phones.
We can see this with the standard shot the Galaxy S22 Ultra captured, with plenty of sucked in light, but also slightly washed out the punchy red and yellow hues of the flowers.
But by activating the scene optimizer for the same shot, we can see that the brightness is reduced and the white balance is changed to give more pop to the flowers. I think the dynamic range is also improved here, especially in the floating garden parquet which I think has more texture. Granted, it’s not as true to life as the standard shot, but I’d say the no-optimizer shot kicked into the overexposure realm and looks less pleasing overall.
This can be seen again in the photo of some gorse below taken on a windy gray where the sky quickly changed from clear to filled with angry slate gray clouds.
The standard shot is very pleasing with the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s 108MP main camera picking out plenty of detail, while carefully balancing the colors of the gorse against the blue-gray sky.
Activate the scene optimizer and the photo becomes a bit darker, with the sky taking on a darker and more dramatic hue. Yet at the same time, the yellow of the gorse flowers was uncompromised and the red top of the sign post still showed.
It’s subjective of course, but I rather like the result that the Scene Optimizer managed to do here. I feel like it tends to produce photos that walk a line between the high-contrast shots of the Google Pixel 6 Pro and the natural color tones an iPhone 13 Pro can deliver; both of these phones happen to be my favorite phone when it comes to photography.
When things get darker, the Scene Optimizer comes into its own. In many cases, it will simply activate the Galaxy S22 Ultra night mode. As you can see in my friend Claire’s first photo, with the screen optimizer turned off, the standard shot is a blurry mess, with the camera struggling with the overall low light with a bar punctuated by candles and distant light sources at the same time. weather.
Using the Scene Optimizer, Night Mode was activated and the resulting shot was much improved, with better edge processing and detection, as well as sharper details on both Clear and on the background.
To give standard mode another chance (perhaps the previous dull photo was an unfortunate fluke), I took a second photo of Claire with night mode triggered this time. The result was a perfectly decent photo considering the lighting in the bar. But it was a little flat with the color tone of Claire’s face looking a bit off.
With Scene Optimizer enabled, in my eyes the photo has a nicer color tone and more contrast. It’s not the best low light photo I’ve seen, but it’s nice to see that the smart image processing actually works to create an enhanced photo rather than one that just boosts brightness or saturation colours.
So, in conclusion, for once, I can say that you don’t have to disable Scene Optimizer, especially since it can sometimes help cover up clumsy user errors.
And combined with the overall improvement that Samsung has made to cameras and computational photography in the Galaxy S22 lineup, I think the Galaxy S22 Ultra has pretty much caught up to the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max in offering an impressive simple point-and-shoot. It also sets the standard for other optional processing modes on Android phones to achieve.
I’m now intrigued to see where Samsung takes its camera tech and smarts next; roll over 2023 and the Galaxy S23.