Friday, November 30, 2012

Samsung Galaxy Note II Review: Camera and Video on the go

Disclaimer : I am not pro photographer or reviewer. I am reviewing this base on my personal opinion and criteria. All pictures are taken by Samsung Galaxy Note II without any editing except resizing and watermarking.

Phone camera! Back to those day people still lugging their phone and compact camera around to shoot. Nowdays, phone camera pretty much slowly replacing the compact camera. Is phone camera really ready to take over the world? I mean the compact camera? Let's see how does the Samsung Galaxy Note II camera perform.

To start off, Samsung Galaxy Note II has 8 Megapixel back facing camera and 1.9 megapixel front facing for video and selca with BSI sensor for both. It packed with 4mm lens with fast aperture, f2.6 while allowing for 1080p video capture on the back camera. The front-facing cameras are the same as well: they are capable of 720p video recording.

(Warning: they default to 1.3MP, which is 1,280 x 960. The 1.9MP setting offers 1,392 x 1,392 pixel resolution.) - Engadget

ISO range it is capable from 100-1600. Thanks to the BSI sensor it promised better low light performance. Below are 100% crop of ISO test from 100-1600.

I would said it is pretty usable even ISO 1600 if you have a good condition of light. Somehow I feel lowlight the image hardly get sharp. Example here are the pics of dinner taken last week at TGIF with le gf. I believe everyone aware how dim lighting in TGIF.

I have to say the Super Amoled HD does make the image and color look nice from the phone screen but the moment I transfer out the photos to PC I am pretty disappointed. Well it is expected actually. That's why, I never trust AMOLED screen. IPS and Sony Bravia screen still FTW. I forgot, Retina Display also.

Of coz, the camera are capable of doing Macro, Panorama and also digital zoom.

Macro is very good. I has no complain on it. The picture are close enough and sharp.

I am not a big fans of Panorama shooting however it is still usable. The image stitching is very accurate however, the image wasn't in focus when doing panorama. Click the image for full size.



I will avoid using digital zoom if I am you. It sucks as usual.

Alright, enough of all the explanation of Samsung Galaxy Note II. I actually put down all my camera gear at home and brought only Note II to one of the Nuffnang event last week. The event held at The Square, Publika. This gonna be real field test for Samsung Galaxy Note II and here is where my frustration coming.

With 5.5 inch screen display, Samsung Galaxy Note II is actually way too big for my single palm. It is not comfortable to hold and grip. Not to mention features that I was hoping for - Touch to Capture doesn't present on the Note II. Thanks God there is still alternate way instead by using voice command by saying "Shoot, Cheese, Capture" the camera will automatic capture. However, I still required to touch to focus (where involve 2 hand) and speak. Not to mention the crowds is very noisy and the camera failed to listen my command. I was frustrated to use both hand because I was enjoying my Baskin Robin ice-cream on another hand.

Another alternate way to solve my frustration was change the volume key behaviour to shutter button. Yeap this features do safe my ass that night but the awkward shutter button AKA Volume button position still make me hardly to handle the camera properly. In the end I gave up and quickly finish my Ice Cream used both hand. I would say my problem will totally solve if it has Touch to Capture features. Samsung do you hear me? I am not sure is my problem easily solve by using burst mode but, it is never my policy to spam shutter unnecessary.

Of course, heavy noise is present on most of the photo except on the stage with existing lightings around. One of my realization was the camera lack of contrast and dynamic range. Not sure other phone but Sony EXMOR R sensor in Xperia phone done a pretty good job on this and not to mention, Nokia Pureview 808.

Did a quick video recording on the event to test out the 1080p. I had no complain on it. The audio is clear, the image is good, my hand is steady enough i know.

Overall, is phone camera ready to replace compact? In this case is Samsung Galaxy Note II ready to do so? For casual user and people who love social sharing instant, yes this phone is really do perform up to expectation. It is good also for people who dislike carry too many electronic devices unless you are ready to get Samsung Galaxy Camera :P

Coming from Compact, DSLR and Mirrorless camera user, I was still hopping to see more better capability and quality image from phone camera. Nokia is already doing the right thing by packing 1/1.2 inch sensor (which is bigger than majority compact camera in markets nowdays) into the Pureview 808. I am pretty sure the camera evolution is still going on. Of course not in term of megapixel, but in terms of sensor and quality optic on the lens. At this moment, I will still willing brought my Olympus to everywhere I went and also my Asus Padfone for instagram purposes.

Verdict : The camera on Samsung Galaxy Note II can shoot a beautiful photo on daylight but not lowlight. It is worth to note that the camera is lack or good control on contrast and also dynamic range. The Super AMOLED HD display easily fool all users who thought their pictures look good on lowlight.

Extra pictures for fun :P

Next part is gonna be final part and verdict of Samsung Galaxy Note II! Stay tune to me! If you miss out the 1st (click here) and 2nd (click here) part of review, pls do so by reading it :)