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DxOMark Mobile Report: Samsung Galaxy S3

Summary

With a DxOMark Mobile score of 72 the Samsung Galaxy S3 is placing itself among the best smartphones so far tested by the DxOMark, but fails to offer any significant advantages over the direct competitors in the top-of-the-line bracket of the smartphone market. 

The DxOMark team report that the Galaxy S3 produces results with vivid and pleasant colors in outdoor shooting, that autofocus is accurate, repeatable and smooth, and that the flash performance is generally good.

Performance drops under low light where a "loss of texture due to an over-reduction of noise" can be observed. "Auto-exposure sometimes fails in challenging outdoor conditions (bright gray sky, backlit) or in low light conditions" and a "slight color shading noticeable with different lightings".

In video mode, DxOMark's engineers reported that the Samsung Galaxy S3 gives "pleasant colors and exposure", the autofocus is "intuitive and reactive" and "noise is not visible in bright light conditions." On the other hand "autofocus in continuous mode is unstable, and produces noticeable lens breathing, strong noise is visible in low light conditions and stabilization does not manage to compensate for walking motion."

Dr. Frédéric Guichard, DxO Labs’ Chief Scientific Officer, said: 'The Samsung Galaxy SIII is a perfect example of the image quality improvement of mobile devices. Its full HD videos are truly impressive, the best that DxOMark Mobile has tested so far, with better quality than those of a recent compact camera such as the Canon Powershot S100.'

Still Photography

Color, Exposure and Contrast

The DxOMark team found that the Samsung Galaxy S3's colors are "vivid and pleasant in outdoor conditions", and that its "white balance is stable and accurate". The option to use manual exposure settings was noted as a positive as well. As expected the Galaxy SIII performed better in bright natural light than indoors. "Slight color shading is noticeable in indoor conditions" and "in low light with a tungsten illuminant, a red color cast is visible and colors are slightly washed out". Because of this DxOMark scored the Samsung Galaxy S3 at 77/100 for Color in bright light and 75/100 in low light. "Auto-exposure sometimes fails in challenging outdoor conditions" but overall the SIII's metering is decent, with exposure and contast scoring 75/100.

Overall DxOMark awarded the Samsung Galaxy S3 scores of

  • 4.0 out of 5 for Exposure,
  • 4.5 out of 5 for White Balance accuracy
  • 4.5 out of 5 for Color shading*
  • 3.0 out of 5 for Color Rendering in low light, and 
  • 4.5 out of 5 for Color Rendering in bright light

*Color Shading is the nasty habit cellphone cameras have of rendering different areas of the frame with different color shifts, resulting in pictures with, for example, pinkish centers and greenish corners. The Samsung Galaxy SIII didn't exhibit significant shading in anything but the very lowest light conditions (20 Lux).

Noise and Details

DxOMark's engineers reported that the Samsung Galaxy SIII captures "nice details in outdoor pictures" and that the "noise levels stay acceptable even in low light". However, they also observed a "loss of detail in low light condition because of strong noise reduction." They also criticize the "sharpness imbalance between edge and texture due to too strong sharpening on contours."

Texture Acutance

Texture Acutance is a way of measuring the ability of a camera to capture images that preserve fine details, particularly the kind of low contrast detail (textures such as fine foliage, hair, fur) that can be blurred away by noise reduction or obliterated by excessive sharpening.

Sharpness is an important part of the quality of an image, but while it is easy to look at an image and decide visually whether it's sharp or not, the objective measurement of sharpness is less straightforward.

An image can be defined as 'sharp' if its edges are sharp and if fine details are visible, but in-camera processing means it's possible to have one of these (sharp edges) but not the other (fine details). Conventional MTF measurements tell us how sharp an edge is, but have drawbacks when it comes to measuring fine detail preservation. Image processing algorithms can detect edges and enhance their sharpness, but they can also find homogeneous areas and smooth them out, to reduce noise.

Texture Acutance, on the other hand, can qualify sharpness in terms of preservation of fine details, without being fooled by edge enhancement algorithms.

A detail of  target made of a 'dead leaves' pattern, designed to measure Texture Acutance. It is obtained by drawing random shapes that occlude each other in the plane, like dead leaves falling from a tree. The statistics of this model follow the distribution of the same statistics in natural images.

In this example from a DSLR without edge enhancement sharpness seems equal on edge and on texture. Many details are visible in the texture.

In this second example edges have been digitally enhanced, and the edge looks over-sharp, with visible processing halos ('ringing'). On the texture part, many details have disappeared.

At first sight, the images from these two cameras may appear equally sharp. A sharpness measurement on edges will indeed confirm this impression, and will even show that the second camera is sharper. But a closer examination of low contrasted textures shows that the first camera has a better preservation of fine details than the second. The purpose of the Texture Acutance measurement is to qualify this difference.

Note: Acutance is a single value metric calculated from a MTF result. Acutance is used to assess the sharpness of an image as viewed by the human visual system, and is dependent on the viewing conditions (size of image, size of screen or print, viewing distance). Only the values of texture acutance are given here. The measurements are expressed as a percentage of the theoretical maximum for the chosen viewing condition. The higher the score, the more details can be seen in an image. 

For all DxOMark Mobile data presented on connect.dpreview.com we're showing only the '8MP equivalent' values, which gives us a level playing field for comparison between phone cameras with different megapixel values by normalizing all to 8MP, suitable for fairly large prints. DxOMark also offer this data for lower resolution use-cases (web and on-screen). For more information on DxOMark's testing methodology and Acutance measurements please visit the website at www.dxomark.com.
In good light, texture acutance is slightly better in daylight than under artificial light sources.
The 100% crops above show clearly how noise reduction smears fine detail at lower light levels.
In lower light the Nokia 808 with its PureView technology is the clear leader here. In bright light the iPhones 4S and 5 can catch up with the Nokia but the Galaxy S3 trails slightly behind at all light levels.

Edge Acutance

Edge acutance is a measure of the sharpness of the edges in images captured by the phone's camera, and again we're only looking at the most demanding of the three viewing conditions that DxOMark reports on, '8MP equivalent'.
The Samsung Galaxy S3's ability to retain fine texture in images increases noticeably from very low light (20 Lux, for example a floodlit building at night ) to 100 Lux (very dark overcast day) but then stays on the same high level for 700 Lux (outdoors on an overcast day). Results under artificial light are almost identical.
The Galaxy S3 trails behind the competition at very low light levels but catches up and has a slight edge over the other phones in this comparison at brighter light of 100 and 700 Lux. However, this is probably a reflection of the high sharpening levels applied to the S3 images.

Visual Noise

Visual Noise is a value designed to assess the noise in an image as perceived by the human visual system, depending on the viewing condition (size of image, size of screen or print, viewing distance). The measurements have no units and can be simply viewed as a weighted average of noise standard deviation for each channel in the CIE L*a*b* color space. The lower the measurement, the less noise in the image.

 Visual noise is high at very low light levels, but drops to a marginal level once you get out into the daylight. Most of the measures noise is luminance grain as chroma noise is being eliminated by noise reduction.
 The results under tungsten light are almost identical to the daylight measurements.
The Nokia 808 is the clear winner here, thanks to its groundbreaking 'PureView' oversampling technology. The Samsung Galaxy S3 is pretty much on the same level as the iPhone 5 while the iPhone 4S is noisier than the competition across all light levels.

Noise & Detail Perceptual scoring

DxOMark engineers don't just point camera phones at charts, they also take and analyse scores of real-world shots and score them accordingly. Their findings for the Samsung Galaxy S3 were:

Natural scene

  • Texture (bright light): 4.5 out of 5
  • Texture (low light): 3.0 out of 5
  • Noise (bright light): 3.5 out of 5
  • Noise (low light) 3.0 out of 5
Bright light sample shot
 100% crop shows "many fine details"
Low light (20 Lux) studio shot
Some fine detail is lost.
Fine detail is blurred but noise remains at acceptable levels.

Artifacts

Phone cameras, like entry-level compact cameras, tend to suffer from artifacts such as sharpening halos, color fringing, vignetting (shading) and distortion, which can impact on the visual appeal of the end result. DxOMark engineers measure and analyse a range of artifacts. Their findings after testing the Samsung Galaxy SIII are shown below:

Pros:

  • No major problems

Cons 

  • Rinign noticeable at a 100% scale, due to strong sharpening filter
  • Significant loss of sharpness in low light conditions

Perceptual scores

  • Sharpness 4.0 out of 5
  • Color fringing 4.5 out of 5

Measured findings

  • Ringing center: 17.7%
  • Ringing corner 5.9%
  • Max geometric distortion 0.35%
  • Luminance shading 17%

Distortion & Chromatic Aberrations

the graph shows the magnification from center to edge (with the center normalized to 1). The Samsung Galaxy SIII shows a very slight complex distortion, with a maximum geometric distortion of 0.35%. You are not going to notice this in normal photography.
Lateral chromatic abberations minimal -  chromatic abberation this small are not seen by most observers.

Autofocus

DxOMark also tests autofocus accuracy and reliability by measuring how much the accutance - sharpness - varies with each shot over a series of 30 exposures (defocusing then using the autofocus for each one). As with other tests these results are dependant on the viewing conditions (a little bit out of focus matters a lot less with a small web image than a full 8MP shot viewed at 100%). Even using the 8MP equiv. condition the Samsung Galaxy SIII did very well, earning an overall score of 91/100 in bright light and 71/100 in low light.

Pros: 

  • At 700 Lux, the autofocus is fast, accurate and reliable in both auto mode and trigger mode
  • Scene change detection is good and automatic focusing is accurate
  • Automatic face detection

Cons: 

  • Autofocus slightly less repeatable in low light
Autofocus repeatability - average acutance difference with best focus: Low light 2.64%, Bright light 0.84%

Flash

DxOMark scored the Samsung Galaxy SIII 81/100 overall for its flash performance, deducting points for occasional white balance issues in mixed light and the lack of red-eye reduction.

Pros: 

  • Good overall image quality with or without additional light source: nice colors, good exposure and sharp details

Cons: 

  • Colors are sometimes neither accurate nor uniform when mixed with a tungsten illuminant 
  • No red eye correction

Overall DxOMark Mobile score for Photo: 73 / 100


Video Capture

DxOMark engineers put phone cameras through a similarly gruelling set of video tests, and you can read their full findings on the DxOMark website here. We'll simply summarize for you. In bright light DxOMark found the Samsung Galaxy S3 to produce good results with good exposure, pleasant color rendering and free from noise. Lowlight performance was less impressive, with a significant loss of detail and increased amounts of both luminance and chroma noise. Image stabilization only compensates for relatively small movements and the AF can be little unstable in continuous mode (but can be locked).

Pros: 

  • Colors and exposure are pleasant.
  • Intuitive and reactive autofocus
  • Videos are free from noise in bright light conditions.

Cons: 

  • Autofocus in continuous mode is unstable, and produces noticeable lens breathing .
  • Strong noise in low light conditions.
  • Visible color shading under tungsten light source.
  • Stabilization does not manage to compensate for walking motions.

Overall DxOMark Mobile score for Video: 71 / 100

Comments

Total comments: 55
IamButterfly

I'm having an issue with finding a way to unhide a hidden photo.
Any help will be appreciated. :)

0 upvotes
branca0306

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

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

1 upvote
walimatkhan

how can i change the front camera to rear camera?

0 upvotes
FYoung

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

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....

1 upvote
gail

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

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

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

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

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.

1 upvote
Rapr

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

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

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm

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

0 upvotes
kenyee

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

1 upvote
gfraser7

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

1 upvote
_sem_

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

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

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

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

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

0 upvotes
photo chris

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

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

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

>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

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

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm

answered now (see below) :-)

0 upvotes
Digital Suicide

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

3 upvotes
princesscinderrala

Yeah also htc one x hit it

0 upvotes
TBoyd

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

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

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

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

0 upvotes
TBoyd

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

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

Looks like there's no contest at all.

808.

3 upvotes
DanielFjall

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

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

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

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

0 upvotes
IZO100

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

6 upvotes
peterwr

NA? I'm guessing you mean North America.

LTE?

0 upvotes
onlooker

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

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

0 upvotes
onlooker

Thanks, Lars.

0 upvotes
BJN

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

Thanks for catching that. Fixed!

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm

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

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

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

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

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

2 upvotes
Edgar Matias

Perfect, thanks.

The site looks great, BTW.

0 upvotes
noshea

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

1 upvote
Anepo

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: 55
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