Galaxy S20 Ultra camera: Testing Samsung’s 108-megapixel and 100x zoom photos

The Galaxy S20 Ultra is all concerning the digicam.

Sarah Tew/CNET

From the second I unboxed the Galaxy S20 Ultra final week, 90% of my testing has centered on the digicam. That, greater than something, is what makes the Ultra so distinct from the standard Galaxy S20 and S20 Plus. Samsung redesigned the digicam system on all of the S20 telephones, tripling the sensor measurement to let in additional mild. But solely the S20 Ultra has a 108-megapixel sensor, 100x AI-assisted zoom and a 40-megapixel front-facing digicam. My mission: to guage if the photograph expertise helps justify the Ultra’s $1,400 value. 

At this level, I’ve shot greater than 100 images on the S20 Ultra, peering at them intently on the gadget’s 6.9-inch display and zooming in on my computer display. It’d be overkill (and possibly break your browser) if I shared all of them right here, so take into account these the highlights. 

In the approaching weeks, my colleagues and I’ll snap and analyze scores extra images to drill down into precisely the place the S20 Ultra’s digicam stands, particularly in opposition to prime competitors just like the iPhone 11 Pro Max, Google’s Pixel 4 and Huawei’s Mate 30 Pro

These footage are not touched up or edited in any manner except said. But word that they’ve been processed by CNET’s content material picture software — you will not see each pixel, however you may hopefully see sufficient to offer you an early concept of the S20 Ultra’s digicam efficiency. I’m additionally testing the video digicam in common and 8K modes, however these recordsdata are large and more durable to share right here. There will likely be loads of footage within the last evaluate, although. Keep checking again for brand spanking new photographs!

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Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra’s 100x zoom makes snooping simpler



Ultrawide-angle shot.

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Galaxy S20 Ultra digicam specs

  • 108-megapixel essential digicam: You want to pick out the 108-megapixel fast setting to take a super-high-resolution photograph, in any other case photographs resolve to 12 megapixels utilizing nona-binning, which basically creates one tremendous pixel out of 9 particular person pixels. Part of the good thing about such a high-resolution picture is to get extra element if you crop right into a shot.
  • 12-megapixel wide-angle lens: Samsung enlarged the sensor, so this is not the identical digicam as on the Galaxy Note 10 or S10 telephones regardless that it makes use of the identical megapixels. The purpose is to let in additional mild, for higher picture high quality, particularly in low mild.
  • 48-megapixel telephoto digicam: This will get you as much as 100x “space zoom,” a characteristic that makes use of AI algorithms to take photographs at excessive distance. The larger the zoom, the shakier your photograph will likely be (a monopod or tripod is vital).
  • DepthVision digicam: I did not exit of my technique to take a look at this but, however it’s meant to help with varied digicam modes. You cannot take particular person images from it.
  • 40-megapixel front-facing digicam: For selfies, you possibly can select from wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle compositions.

Main digicam, customary decision.

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

What I feel to this point

In considerable lighting eventualities, the S20 Ultra’s images look incredible: crisp and vivid, with loads of element. Low-light photographs get a typical Samsung increase of brightness that you could be love or discover a bit overly cheerful, however that comes all the way down to your temper. Selfies look good — possibly a bit too detailed for my tastes, although magnificence settings will airbrush the look — and there is even a brand new characteristic to pick out a hotter or darker picture tone than the default (to use to the scene, to not pores and skin).

I’ve taken dozens of images with the 108-megapixel digicam and I feel I discovered the candy spot. Close-ups and macros did not work so nicely. For instance, I received extra element cropping in on a standard-resolution photograph of the frayed finish of my denims than I did on the 108 digicam. But taking a mid-distance photograph and cropping in, the superior element can punch you within the face, as with the desk plant under. 

In different compositions, zooming in on the phone display or in a full-screen photograph on the computer revealed mushier edges and extra noise than the 12-megapixel counterpart. Interestingly, the 108 setting additionally artificially brightens and shade saturates many scenes, typically flattening shadow and element. The images are too massive to load right here.


Main digicam, customary decision.

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

The digicam’s 100x zoom characteristic completely works, however at such distance, photographs are intensely blurry. There are nonetheless some sensible makes use of, I found, and I am going into additional element in my ongoing Galaxy S20 review. When you are just too far to seize a (pretty static) factor you wish to see, like a statue crowning the dome of metropolis corridor, or a deer sniffing the air, then this excessive degree of zoom could make a photograph doable within the first place — and ok to jog your reminiscence or make a degree.

A very good 4x, 10x and 30x zoom are way more helpful in every day life, however I took sufficient fascinating photographs within the wild to persuade me that 100x zoom has a spot. I would not essentially purchase the S20 Ultra due to it, however I’m excited to see this know-how develop.

Pictures from the Galaxy S20 Ultra


Standard decision, Live Focus (portrait) mode, spot shade.

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET


Crop from standard-resolution picture.

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET


Crop from 108-megapixel decision picture.

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET


Main digicam, customary decision.

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET


108-megapixel digicam setting, no zoom.

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET


10x zoom (108-megapixel digicam setting).

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET


30x zoom (108-megapixel digicam setting).

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET


100x zoom (Standard digicam setting).

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET


108-megapixel digicam setting, no zoom. Where’s doggo?

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET


100x zoom. Here he’s.

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET


40-megapixel selfie, ultra-wide-angle composition.

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET


4x zoom, pretty shut up however I did not wish to get my footwear moist to seize the shot.

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET


Shot on automated mode with essential digicam, low mild circumstances.

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET


This crop in of the 108-megapixel model is impressively detailed. The full-resolution model of this picture was too massive to load.

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET


Shot in automated mode in low mild circumstances.

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

This story will likely be up to date typically with new images. Keep checking again for extra!

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