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Features

Like most smartphones the Galaxy S3's camera is geared towards 'point-and-shoot' operation and all you need to do to capture an image after launching the camera app is press the shutter button. You can also change and/or lock the focus point by tapping and/holding a specific point on the screen. For many users these will be the only controls they ever use on a smartphone and that's totally fine.

However, for those who like to play with options and functions the Samsung Galaxy S III's camera app has a much more comprehensive feature set than its stock Android equivalent. Many of the features we know from digital compact cameras but by smartphone standards the Galaxy S3's camera comes with a comprehensive feature set.

In addition to the features described in more detail below it is worth mentioning the Samsung also offers a range of scene modes, geotagging and the ability to capture stills images while capturing video at the same time.

Burst Mode / Best Shot

Setting the camera app to Burst Mode allows you to capture up to 20 shots at a frame rate of approximately six frames per second in one burst by pressing and holding the shutter button. The images are captured at full size. This works very well for moving subjects in good light and therefore fast shutter speeds.

Image #1
Image #2
Image #3
Image #4

In lower light no control over shutter speeds or ISO in Burst mode means that you often end up with slower shutter speeds and therefore some motion blur in your images. The S3 camera has a tendency to keep ISO to a minimum which in low light typically results in shutter speeds that are not fast enough for moving subjects.

This sample was taken indoors. The camera selected ISO 80 which resulted in a shutter speed of 1/50 sec and a blurred subject. In these situations it would be beneficial to select a higher sensitivity despite the loss in image detail.

In Burst mode you've also got a 'Best photo' option. If this mode is activated the camera takes eight shots in quick succession and then picks the best image based on focus, smiling and blinking and other unspecified criteria. After a Best Shot burst has been captured the camera app suggests the best shots but all shots in the burst are displayed and you can save all of them if you want.

HDR mode

With HDR mode activated the Galaxy S III takes three images in quick succession and combines them to one High Dynamic Range image. Both the standard and HDR exposure are saved. The sample below shows the standard exposure on the left and the HDR picture on the right.

Standard (non-HDR) exposure
With HDR function activated

As you can see the HDR exposure has a slightly 'flatter' appearance but shows more detail in the highlight areas of the scene, such as white cabin of the boat on the left. HDR mode works best with relatively static scenes such as the one in the sample above. With moving subjects in the frame you often end up with a 'ghosting' 'effect in the image.

Panorama mode

There is an abundance of apps available in the Google Play store to create panoramic images and the stock Android camera app offers this feature too. But you don't need to reach for a third-party app - thre's a panorama function included in the S3's native camera app. It essentially works in a very similar way to the panorama modes we have seen on many compact cameras before.  

Once you've set the app to panorama mode and pressed the shutter button you can pan the camera in any direction and hold it vertically or horizontally to create a panorama picture. As you are panning the app draws a frame around the last image that was captured which allows you to align your framing pretty easily.

With static scenes the panorama stitching works well but you get the occasional stitching error, in this sample shot visible on the distant buildings just to the left of the image center. At just over 6000 pixels the panorama images are only double the width of a standard 4:3 capture and not stitched from full-size images.
In scenes with moving subjects, such as this corridor at a trade show venue, the stitching algorithm gets confused, resulting in ghosting effects and the same subject appearing mroe than once.

The app creates approximately a 180 degree panorama but the images are stitched at a reduced size, resulting in panoramic images that are typically just over 6000 pixels wide. Panoramas of static subjects are usually nicely rendered but pretty often show at least minor stitching errors. Like most panorama modes things become more problematic once there are moving subjects in the scene. This can result in 'ghosting effects' and/or the same subject appearing multiple times in the image.

Beauty

This is a filter which retouches blemishes on subject faces. When looking at the image close-up the effect is a little too pronounced for our taste, overprocessing the image and essentially make people resemble display mannequins. This can be a fun feature to play with but the novelty factor wears off pretty quickly and any serious retouching work is certainly better done in a dedicated app or on your computer.

The Beauty Shot feature creates slightly artificial looking results when viewed at a larger magnification but for 'facebook-sized' images it works quite well.

Cartoon

This shooting mode is essentially a filter that converts your image into a cartoon at the time of capture. You can see the filter applied in the live view images which helps create the desired effect but with essentially no parameters to plat with the possibilities are distinctly limited.

The Cartoon shooting mode applies a cartoon style digital filter to your pictures and live view image preview.

Filters

The S3's camera app offers a range of digital filters which have their own dedicated menu button. This includes the follwoing effects:

  • Negative
  • Black and White
  • Sepia
  • Washed out
  • Cold vintage
  • Warm vintage
  • Posterize
  • Solarize
  • Blue point
  • Green point
  • Red-yellow point

In theory these filters work in similar way to the Cartoon and Beauty shooting modes. It's not quite clear why the latter were given Shooting Mode status but it certainly makes the user interface look a little unstructured.

When you tap on the filter icon a list of available filters opens up. Tap on the filter to select it. You then have to tap anywhere else on the screen to close the filter list first before you can take an image. This is a little unfortunate as it prevents you from quickly taking a series of images of the same scene using various different filters.

The filters are pretty standard fare, the same sort of effects we've seen on compact cameras for many years. That said, some of them can render an otherwise boring scene a little more interesting.

 No filter
 Sepia
 Solarize
 Polarize

Digital Zoom

Like pretty much all smartphones the Samsung Galaxy S3 doesn't offer optical zoom, but a 4x digital zoom is available, and can be controlled using the famililar 'pinch-to-zoom' gesture. Image quality from digitally zoomed images deteriorates quickly with the zoom factor and at maximum zoom range image quality is very poor compared to the wide-angle images.

 No zoom
 4x digital zoom

Post-capture Editing (Gallery App)

Out of the box the Galaxy S 3 does not have an image editor installed. If you select the edit function within the Gallery app for the first time the phone will first ask you to download and install the image editor which, once done, offers you a good array of editing options. You find all the standard functions such as cropping, resizing and a range of color and contrast options. More sophisticated editing options include effects such as Pop-Art, Retro, Sepia and Old Photo filters, a variation of digital frames and options that allow you to put 'stickers' on an image or directly draw on it.

In the gallery app you can browse the images that are saved on your phone.
There is a large number of retouching options available including a Pop-Art filter...
...a variety of digital frames...
 ...and 'stickers' that can be superimposed onto your images.

Smile Shot

Smile Shot is another feature we have seen before on various compact cameras. Smile Shot looks for faces in a scene and automatically triggers the shutter once all faces are showing a smile. Like similar features we have tested before the smile required to trigger the system is quite pronounced. So, sometimes facial expressions in Smile Shot pictures can look a little 'artificial' but even though, the function still makes an excellent party trick.

Share Shot and Buddy photo share

Share shot allows you to share pictures right when they are taken with other Samsung devices which support the feature. This includes the Galaxy Camera, the Galaxy Note 10.1 and the Galaxy Note II. Although the feature uses Android's Wi-Fi Direct technology is does not work with all Wi-Fi Direct capable devices, only Share Shot capable ones, so make sure the person you want to share with owns a compatible phone or tablet.

Buddy photo share uses facial recognition to match your photos with your contacts. By tagging photos you can send and share pictures, and sort them in your gallery by faces.

Comments

Total comments: 54
branca0306
By branca0306 (1 week ago)

I bought my girlfriend the Galaxy S3,just the same as mine btw,and there is a problem with the camera.
When you open the camera it starts up in negative mode at the effect-settings,so to snap a picture,she always have to alter the setting "effects" from negative to "no effects or another effect...can this be changed or is it a malfunction of the device?

0 upvotes
pankaj123
By pankaj123 (8 months ago)

i am unable to change front camera to rear camera, no button visible for that... what is setting nw. pls recommend

1 upvote
walimatkhan
By walimatkhan (5 months ago)

how can i change the front camera to rear camera?

0 upvotes
FYoung
By FYoung (4 months ago)

To switch between the cameras:

In shooting mode, toggle the icon showing a camera with a curved arrow on each side. It is at the top right of the screen in portrait orientation.

If you don't see this icon, click on the phone's hidden physical Menu button to the left of the physical Home button , and select "Edit shortcuts." This will show all the available shortcuts. Long press the camera with 2 arrows icon and move it to the top or bottom bar.

This is explained in the S3's 160 page user manual available at:
http://downloadcenter.samsung.com/content/UM/201207/20120704064512229/i747M_UG_ENG_WEB.pdf

For easy reference in the future, bookmark this URL and sideload a copy of this user manual to your phone's SD storage card and on a cloud storage to which the phone has access, such as Dropbox.

For support info on the S3, go to:
http://www.samsung.com/ca/consumer/mobile/mobile-phones/smartphones/SGH-I747MBABMC-support#

Sorry for the long URLs, but this site bans tiny URLs.

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 12 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
princesscinderrala
By princesscinderrala (10 months ago)

Its camera is not better than htc one x ..... htc one x also have 8 m.p ..... but that result is awesome. ... galaxy s3 has not better result as i thought....

0 upvotes
gail
By gail (Feb 24, 2013)

You recommend a case so the GS3 isn't so slippery when taking photos. I bought the Samsung Flip Cover Case ($40!), which covers the camera lens and flash when the case is fully open. I can't decide whether this is a good or not. It does give the camera so extra stability, but it's also awkward to use.

0 upvotes
sinc
By sinc (Dec 22, 2012)

I'm a photographer who normally uses a Sony A55 with Zeiss zoom. I have to say this S3 is a nice little camera and a cut above the one in the original Galaxy. (My friend has an S2 which works about the same as the S3.)

Undoubtedly in the years to come phone cameras will eliminate the need for P&S cameras, if they haven't already. They won't be the equivalent of DSLRs.

Nonetheless, the S3 is a great camera. With a little post processing, you can get great digital photos suitable for screen viewing. If you want large prints, you probably won't be happy with anything but a DSLR.

I'm having a lot of fun with this camera.

0 upvotes
Anepo
By Anepo (Nov 28, 2012)

Could you please do as detailed galaxy s2 review? I want a camera phone that runs android and im not sure if the s3 is worth the extra 300 usd it costs over here, pretty please?

0 upvotes
mksng
By mksng (Nov 9, 2012)

Great site...!! Please post a review of Xperia S or SL and Lumia 820 at the earliest. Eagerly awaiting your verdict to decide between Galaxy S3, One X or S, Lumia 820, Xperia S.... Please suggest which is best overall on camera performance

0 upvotes
dbateman
By dbateman (Nov 7, 2012)

I couldn't find it mentioned, maybe I missed it, But what is the 35mm equivalent field of view for the lens?

The first one its 35mm for camera and 45mm ish for video. I am wonder if they went wider at 28mm or kept it a 35mm.

0 upvotes
Rapr
By Rapr (Nov 6, 2012)

Lars Rehm, on 3rd page, you say "The S3 attempts to keep shutter speeds a a hand-holdable levels and does not appear to go any lower than 1/30 sec without using the flash which means that very dark scenes like the bar in the images below will end up under-exposed. There is nothing you can do about it.". But, this is not correct since a night mode is proposed in the Scene mode menu. This mode doesn't use the flash but it uses a longer exposition time. I tryed to take pictures at night with this mode and it appears to decrease the shutter speed down to 1/2 sec. If you didn't use this mode for the tests in low lighting conditions, then the results and the conclusion are certainly incorrect.

0 upvotes
OdesJ
By OdesJ (Nov 5, 2012)

I don't have the button to take stills during video on my S3 with Sprint.

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (Nov 5, 2012)

It disappears when certain settings are activated. Try switching off Image Stabilization, that dis it for me.

0 upvotes
kenyee
By kenyee (Nov 5, 2012)

It's better than a lot of camera phones except the Nokia 808 which has a great lens comparatively.

But to put it in context, most lenses on cellphones will have dust and fingerprints all over them....it's a miracle you can get anything decent out of them, but they're good enough for instagram and facebook so everyone is used to mediocrity :-P

0 upvotes
gfraser7
By gfraser7 (Nov 4, 2012)

Well, I have a real camera so my impression is that the camera on my Siii sucks.

1 upvote
_sem_
By _sem_ (Nov 2, 2012)

How about the red-dot- flare pattern when shooting into the sun through leaves, or sunsets, or into reflectors at night?
Here's a SGS2 sample:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1pdjLrXAXo

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (Nov 5, 2012)

Did not come across this in my sample shooting. There is a shot against the sun in the sample gallery (the one with the geese) and the S3 did just fine int hat situation.

0 upvotes
Rapr
By Rapr (Nov 2, 2012)

This phone provides a night mode. It would be helpful to use it when you are taking pictures at night or in low lighting conditions...

0 upvotes
T. L. Rutter
By T. L. Rutter (Nov 2, 2012)

Thank you for reviewing cell phone cameras. For me, it is pretty important to have these kind of reviews. I bought the Note II last week and pleased with many of the pictures where there is plenty of light, but see issues with quality when there is hardly any light. But it's not bad and knowing these limitations, I can do a work-around. For example, I wanted the 920 due to the "supposed" low-light quality but the phone was not out then, and after giving much thought, felt that since most of my pictures were in the daylight I would be fine, and for those in the dark, I have the NEX that will do just fine.

0 upvotes
rondhamalam
By rondhamalam (Nov 2, 2012)

I like the FLIPBOARD of android (google play) on this device

0 upvotes
photo chris
By photo chris (Nov 2, 2012)

Geez, 10 pages for a phone? At least show the pages in the sidebar or in a menu so I can skip to the content I actually want to read ... you know ... like on DPreview...

4 upvotes
tom sugnet
By tom sugnet (Nov 2, 2012)

I have this phone and pictures look soft even after you've taken them (when previewed on screen). I guess the effective resolution is around 4 megapixels (due to strong NR), it's much much softer than my 6 megapixel Fuji F31fd (which I gave to my mother and don't use anymore).

Comment edited 33 seconds after posting
1 upvote
grafli
By grafli (Nov 2, 2012)

Well there is no surprise that a larger 6MP sensor performs better in low light than a very small 8MP sensor.
More Pixel area= better sensitivity

0 upvotes
Uwe Steinmueller
By Uwe Steinmueller (Nov 2, 2012)

>The Galaxy S3 achieves a good DxO Mark score of 72 which is means it is trailing very slightly behind the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S and HTC One X in our list of the best smartphone cameras.

A link to these reviews would be helpful.

0 upvotes
neo_nights
By neo_nights (Nov 2, 2012)

Why was my question the only one left unanswered? :(
(second comment on this page)

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (Nov 2, 2012)

answered now (see below) :-)

0 upvotes
Digital Suicide
By Digital Suicide (Nov 2, 2012)

Nokia 808 kills samsung S3 in one hit. Even iPhone 5 is better than S3.

3 upvotes
princesscinderrala
By princesscinderrala (10 months ago)

Yeah also htc one x hit it

0 upvotes
TBoyd
By TBoyd (Nov 2, 2012)

Sure - the SIII has no physical shutter button, but you overlooked the fact that the shutter can be voice activated, and it works! Just go to Settings>Language and Input>Voice cmd for apps & check the box for camera.
Who needs a physical shutter button with that feature? I just say "shoot" and the shutter snaps.

3 upvotes
Lk400
By Lk400 (Nov 2, 2012)

I seriously cant imagine ever wanting to use that feature! But then again, I am not a fan of voice commands in general as they feel unnatural and seem like they would be annoying for the people around me.

4 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (Nov 2, 2012)

Thanks, I will check and add this to the review...although I am sure repeatedly saying "shoot" in public can lead to misunderstandings :-)

5 upvotes
Tom Goodman
By Tom Goodman (Nov 2, 2012)

Voice commands are useful for virtually everything you can do on a phone so why not use them for the camera?

0 upvotes
TBoyd
By TBoyd (Nov 2, 2012)

I realize voice is not desirable in every shooting situation, but the reviewer did overlook this feature. The touchscreen shutter button works fine.

0 upvotes
McCool69
By McCool69 (Nov 1, 2012)

All well and good that you are testing cell phones, but reviewing a phone that was out already in May/June this year and is closing in on 30 million sold at this time might be a bit late...

6 upvotes
Rage Joe
By Rage Joe (Nov 1, 2012)

Looks like there's no contest at all.

808.

3 upvotes
DanielFjall
By DanielFjall (Nov 1, 2012)

This isn't Samsungs latest model. And the Note 2 has a flip-button-press - shortcut for fast camera access. Unsure about this one.

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (Nov 1, 2012)

it's the latest in the 'Galaxy S' line although probably for not much longer :-)

I've made that clearer in the introduction.

1 upvote
IZO100
By IZO100 (Nov 1, 2012)

NA version of this phone has a Samsung sensor vs a Sony sensor for the rest of the world.

Also:
NA version doesnt have a quad core CPU
NA version doesnt have the Wolfson audio chip
NA version doesnt have FM radio
NA version has LTE
NA version has 2GB of RAM instead one 1

2 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (Nov 1, 2012)

We tested the US version of this device, as stated in the introduction.

0 upvotes
IZO100
By IZO100 (Nov 1, 2012)

I dont see anything in your introduction about 2 different sensors, thats why I post a comment about this important fact.

6 upvotes
peterwr
By peterwr (Nov 7, 2012)

NA? I'm guessing you mean North America.

LTE?

0 upvotes
onlooker
By onlooker (Nov 1, 2012)

I am really trying to find the focal length of the lens. Am I missing something? Is it not a part of the spec?

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (Nov 1, 2012)

Some manufacturers do not provide this specification but it is approximately 29mm equivalent.

0 upvotes
onlooker
By onlooker (Nov 2, 2012)

Thanks, Lars.

0 upvotes
BJN
By BJN (Nov 1, 2012)

Correction: Android 4.0 is Ice Cream Sandwich. 4.1 and a very recent 4.2 version are Jelly Bean.

I have and S3. It's a great phone and barely a camera. It's amazing that you rank this phone so highly for its photo features. Looks like phones have a low bar to jump at Connect.

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Richard Shih
By Richard Shih (Nov 1, 2012)

Thanks for catching that. Fixed!

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (Nov 1, 2012)

As we do with cameras you have to view these phones in context. The S3 looks good in comparison to many other phones. Is is a better camera than dedicated digital compact cameras? Probably not.

0 upvotes
neo_nights
By neo_nights (Nov 1, 2012)

I really liked the integration between DPReview and DxO data and conclusions. Are those becoming standard and going to be done even on the "normal" DPReview?

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (Nov 2, 2012)

We are currently working with DxO on cell phones and lenses. We might use some of their data for camera reviews on the future, so watch this space.

0 upvotes
Edgar Matias
By Edgar Matias (Nov 1, 2012)

Can we get proper navigation on these review pages?

10 pages is a lot to sort through without being able to go the one you actually want. See DPReview for how to do it right. Either the page thumbnails or pop-up menu would do the trick.

1 upvote
Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Nov 1, 2012)

It's on the list of improvements we want to make - we share your frustration.

2 upvotes
Edgar Matias
By Edgar Matias (Nov 2, 2012)

Perfect, thanks.

The site looks great, BTW.

0 upvotes
noshea
By noshea (Nov 2, 2012)

Not read the review but I recognise the Kruder & Dorfmeister EP cover doing their Simon and Garfunkle impression. Good taste.

1 upvote
Anepo
By Anepo (Nov 28, 2012)

Could you please do as detailed galaxy s2 review? I want a camera phone that runs android and im not sure if the s3 is worth the extra 300 usd it costs over here, pretty please?

Also any chance in comparing it to the samsung galaxy player 5?

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Total comments: 54
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